What in the hell-O-jell-O does that really mean, anyway?
April means evaluation time, Chickens. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it.
I heard myself use this phrase and, after-the-fact thought about what a tepid and vague remark it must have seemed.
A common refrain in education is that students will forget what you teach them, but never forget how you made them feel. I used to roll my eyes and get the shakes when someone started mucking around in the mud of this cliche…then I had a son. (Man…I wonder how many conditional statements could be completed this way?!?)
When it comes to the evaluators or judges in his life (e.g. parents, teachers)…he is happy to fail class after class if he likes the teacher…if the teacher is “nice.” And as far as his parents are concerned, a spoon full of sugar, likewise, helps the ‘NOs’ and ‘WHY-ON-EARTH-WOULD-YOUs?!?!?’ go down. Poor kid…he’s stuck with a mother who actively campaigns against everything (even the word) N-I-C-E (a 4-letter word indeed!).
I think, though, that my son is not alone. It seems as though most people, regardless of age, value ‘niceness’ before…well, most everything else. So when we hear “it’s a pleasure working with you” we interpret it to mean “I don’t mind being stuck in the sandbox with you because you don’t throw sand.”
I, though, am an odd goose in a field of Chickens. What I meant was:
I enjoy working with you because you are studied and well-informed. You are curious…which leads you to think critically and creatively. You enjoy debate, discussion, and ideas. You’re not afraid of taking risks and making mistakes. You can give and take, challenge and accept, lead and follow. You can color inside and outside the lines. You engage with our work and with me. If you throw sand occasionally, I know it is because there is ‘fire in your belly’…and though we may have sand in our eyes, ears, and mouths…what a glorious castle we will build!
And so…words again, Chickens, have given me pause. Very soon you will be doing course evaluations of your own…I’m curious…what do you value in those you work for and with? Give my poll a quick click and let me know…
Somewhere, there is a coffee mug decorated with rainbows and unicorns that says:
I will not remember how you made me feel, but I will remember if you had anything to teach me.