It’s all about them
November 6, 2010 § 14 Comments
Some people have just got it, haven’t they? Magnetism I’m talking about. Meeting someone with it makes me proud to be alive and part of this wonderful universe that Willy is so excited about too in his Authentic Teaching. I’ve cheated here and used a language plant I’ve used before by Maya Angelou, but it does sum up the sentiments I wish to express here perfectly.
“I’ve learned that
people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did
but people will never forget
how you made them feel.”
I was visiting a school a couple of weeks ago, observing a class of eight 12-year olds with special needs who were having extra support with literacy. I was escorted to the classroom by their teacher and came across the children waiting quietly outside. They were polite, issuing timid hellos and gentle smiles with pursed lips, without wanting to hold my gaze. And then there was Annabelle-Jo.
“Hello, are you Mr Warr? We’ve been expecting you. Welcome to our class. I like your tie! My name’s Annabelle-Jo by the way, but you can call me AJ. All my friends do.” Mirroring her words, she was reaching out and offering her hand in a warm welcoming gesture.
“Thank you most kindly, AJ. It is a pleasure to be here,” I beamed back at her, giving her hand a good firm shake.
So here’s a question for you. You’ve been invited to a party, but you’re going to know hardly anyone there. How does this make you feel? It can be daunting when you first walk in to the room, scan for friendly faces and, shock horror, not a soul you know. What to do?
Well, you should read this book, First Impressions. In it, you learn how you’re not alone, how loads of us are self-conscious and worry about what others think, how embarrassed we can get about the most trifling of issues. In fact, most of us go through three predictable stages when we meet someone for the first time. Of course, some cut these stages out all together, either consciously or intuitively, and leapfrog to stage four. They’re the ones with magnetism.
So you find yourself talking to someone at TESOL France, a young man let’s say. He’s introduced himself, he seems confident and sociable, and before you know it, you find yourself at stage 1: How am I feeling about myself? Let’s take stock here. I’m still alive, that’s a start. He’s not laughing at me, that’s good. Have I got anything stuck in my teeth? Hope not. It’s all so self-conscious. It’s all so me me me.
But the conversation progresses and you move on to stage 2: how do I feel about him? Do I like him? Is he interesting? Does he slurp when he drinks? You start making judgments, assessments. And if these turn out positive, then you will naturally be curious about what he thinks of you. That’s stage 3. Does he find my anecdotes amusing, my wisdom insightful, my new hairstyle chic?
And that’s where most of us remain, wondering what others think of us.
But stage 4! The only combination not yet explored, but the most powerful by far. As I said, you can jump straight there, and people will like you, because you have their interests at heart, you’re putting their feelings and needs before your own. You’re thinking: how do they feel about themselves?
Magnetism comes in many different shapes and sizes, that’s the beauty of it, and it matches teacher roles closely. So in class, learners can feel truly valued, that their voice is heard, as they do in the delightful story at Sabrina’s Weblog. They may find they have a connection with us in some way, as all the learners seemed to get in Candy’s autumnal collection. At times, they may feel enlightened, like Willy’s doing to us with his fractals. And sometimes our learners can feel entertained, so that their spirits are raised and their worries fade. It’s simple. It’s about reaching out to others, just like Annabelle-Jo.