Are You Taking Responsibility?
When you're unhappy, are you taking responsibility for the role you played or are you automatically finding a way to pass the blame?
I look forward to Wednesdays because it's the one 'guaranteed' day that I'll leave my house in something other than gym clothes. Every week, I am fortunate enough to spend time with our future-children. Since September, I've been working with two groups of sixth graders. And as of three weeks ago, I added seventh graders to the roster. Our time together has graduated into crafting fictional stories based on real life events, or things that could happen in real life.
To get started, I had them to create a problem and design the solution. Last week, I found myself right smack dab in the middle of a rather disgruntled bunch. Their problem was teachers. This stopped me in my tracks. I started to challenge their thinking. I didn't want to persuade them to think differently, but I did want them to consider what they were saying.
I went around the circle and asked each group member to share a reason why teachers are the problem. One student offered that teachers are always lecturing. Another added that they don't get enough breaks. The group as a whole came to the consensus that the latter was the one they would move forward with. I asked them to elaborate about these 'breaks' they weren't getting that they felt they needed. They responded with "we want to be able to go outside and not be cooped up in the classroom all day."
If you know me, then you know I'm nosey. I wanted to know why they couldn't go outside. The answers ranged from "our behavior", to "we talk too much", or "we talk back." Hearing these responses made me want to dig a little deeper. I asked what were they being lectured on. "Our behavior" rang around the table.
I couldn't have created a more teachable moment.
After hearing everyone's thoughts and feelings, I hit them with: if your teacher expects you to behave a certain way and you aren't, don't you think that warrants further discussion of classroom rules and acceptable behavior? They shook their heads reluctantly. And if you aren't sitting still long enough to get what you need while in class, should you be rewarded with 'fun time'? More reluctant nods.
Our conversation continued and I challenged them to think about what the real problem was. They all agreed it was their disruptive behavior. The obvious solution was to get it together so that the lectures would stop and "fun times" could resume. We can't expect different outcomes to problems we are contributing to.
After my session, I started thinking about the rest of us out here living the same way. Quick to pass the blame, ignoring the role we played in it all. It's easier to not have to take responsibility. It's less work. But how much change can you really expect when everyone else is working except you?
These kids inspire me every single week. As I work alongside them to ensure they get what they need to be successful, I am forced to look within to see if I am practicing what I preach. Even in their misbehavior, they still teach us so much.
Are you taking responsibility or are you passing the blame?