Meaningful Conversation and Meaningful Correction

Brandon and I have always pushed the idea of meaningful conversations and delicious beverages, and I’ve loved the ones we’ve had. There have been a lot of opportunities to discuss our challenges, our growth, and just wrestle with important ideas, but one thing I can tend to avoid is a good, meaningful correction. I recognize their importance, both in theory and in practice, but it isn’t something I enjoy in general. This week at school, I got some very direct experience both in the giving and receiving of correction, and it really highlighted how meaningful it can be.

Last week, my principal was in my classroom for a formal observation, and this week we met to discuss what he saw. When we were scheduling the conversation, I chose to have him come in on my most difficult class. It is a class of 29 freshmen, and, for context, I have no other class with more than 21 students in it. The choice was made because, we both agreed, that anything that would help in that class would obviously translate to any of my others. Nothing went particularly badly, but there were a lot of areas for growth, and my principal calmly and quickly went through some of the key central ones. He apologized a few times for seeming like he was being overly harsh, but in truth, it was wonderful. There was a lot of information that I was able to immediately apply in my lessons for the rest of the week. I knew that was he was giving me was motivated by a desire to help me become a better teacher and not because he was looking to take me down a peg or two.

Similarly, this week a student who had classes with me last year was getting himself into some minor trouble at school with classes and extracurricular activities, and a couple of people asked me to talk to him because he and I have a pretty strong student-teacher relationship. To be honest, I was way more nervous about giving correction to him than I was about receiving it from my principal. My concern was all for nothing, though, as the conversation went really well. He knew, just like I did in my conversation with my principal, that I was offering a correction and challenge because I care about him and want his good. He was receptive, and explained where he was coming on things without being defensive or trying to deny he’d done anything wrong. Now, I’ll have to wait to see how things change moving forward, but I’m feeling optimistic.

Ultimately, both of these conversations were real confirmations of our motto of love and challenge. If we know that love for one another is the motivation, even difficult conversations full of correction can be positive, uplifting times of connection.

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