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A weekly kick-off e-message from Katherine Eitel

to breathe life back into your practice, your team, and you!


June 20, 2011

The Whole Truth

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I recently saw a quote, attributed to speaker Scott Halford, which said, "To reach wisdom, find the error in what you espouse and the truth in what you oppose."  I like this very much because it speaks to the idea that our beliefs are based on the premise that there is only ONE truth... OUR truth.
How many times have you been so sure you KNEW the truth about something or someone only to discover through a rich dialogue, research, contemplation, exposure to other opinions, or sheer accident that everything you thought you knew for sure ... just wasn't. And with a shifted, or at least expanded, version you wished you could take back all those times you sounded off so righteously?
TruthI know I have. I remember proclaiming loudly and often as a young, married woman how I would never take a child into the grocery store without proper shoes on their feet or give in to a tantrum-throwing brat as they screamed at the top of their lungs for Sugar-Coated Sugar Pops just to quiet them up ... all pre-children, of course. Boy, did I live to eat those words! I remember exhausted spins through grocery stores after work with a screaming, shoeless toddler where I threw in two boxes just for sanity's sake!! We think we KNOW... until we know we don't.
For years it seemed to me that teachers should perform the same way corporate business workers did. You kept your job and advanced your career based on your innovation, creativity, and commitment to getting elevated student test scores in reading, math, and science using the budgets, timelines, and resources you were given. Then a 5th grade school teacher entered my life and I asked his opinion on the matter. He reminded me that corporate middle management has the authority to fire those who don't perform and hire those who will. Teachers do not have this luxury. Rather, they receive a random, cross-section of humanity with their various dynamics and the teacher must move them all to a benchmark within a timeline and set of limited resources. He felt most teachers brought their best creativity and greatest effort but often student test scores would be greatly impacted by circumstances and factors over which the teacher would have minimal control.
We think we know... until we know we don't.  There's almost always some error in that which we espouse and some truth in that which we oppose. This week, ask more questions, tread with care when exclaiming that which you are SURE is true, expand your definitions, and assume there's almost always more to know and understand to complete the picture about everything and everyone.
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