Noticing What Matters

by Rick on April 28, 2019

In most schools the parent-teachers conversation doesn’t go deep enough. Here’s an example of a conversation that goes deeper:

Teacher1: “Yesterday in Malka’s math group the three boys got into an argument about the best way to solve a problem. Malka patiently listened to the dispute for a minute, then calmly took a clean piece of paper, wrote her solution on top, leaned in, slid the paper on top of theirs, almost putting her head between them, and showed them how she had done the problem. She was so compelling that they simply had to stop. They could see that her answer was right. She didn’t raise her voice. She hardly said anything.”
Parent1: “Yes, she really doesn’t like conflict.”
Parent2: “Yes, but you know it’s more like she isn’t afraid of conflict. Remember when she was five and her cousins were over at our house and started fighting over the remote and she tried to get them to stop and finally just went over to the TV and turned it off? That was amazing.”
Parent1: “I know. That’s right. She’s pretty unflappable.”
Teacher2: “Yes, she is actually fearless. I am going to start noticing and taking notes on her fearlessness. In fact, I will email you some good ones.”
Parent1: “Thank you. We are thrilled. We want her to keep developing her conflict skills.”
Parent2: “Yes, I want that, too, but what I love about your story even more than the social skills she is showing, is her spirit. I love that spark in her that makes her show up as herself over and over again, in whatever situation she finds herself. So, what I love is how you keep seeing that in her, and whatever it is that you are doing to bring it out. …and I will look forward to those emails.”

The secret to the success of every child is some adult who sees the child as a unique human driven by an inexorable genius in the process of becoming. When we talk about our kids, let’s keep our eyes on the right ball: their unique character, their unique spark that makes them them.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Gruber April 30, 2019 at 10:47 am

Whenever we see courage, confidence and creativity in kids, especially with regard to solving problems, we need to recognize, affirm and celebrate their independence, their good judgment and their high-level skills. Would that more adults particularly these days in leadership positions were able to demonstrate these kinds of problem solving ablilites.

Larry Arnstein May 1, 2019 at 10:22 am

Hard not to wonder what is in Malka’s future. Her problem-solving and people skills will equip her well for anything she wants to pursue. Her creativity would be a great asset if she were to become a teacher, a doctor, a scientist, a politician, almost anything I can think of. I wish there were more Malkas growing up right now, and hope that in fact there are. Despite a distressing lack of political leadership in the world, most notably in our country, I think we will emerge from these dark days and start solving problems rather than creating them. As Peter Pan says, “Think lovely thoughts!”

Rick May 1, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Hey, Gary and Larry, Is Pete Buttigieg the kind of leader we need?

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