You’ve met this person. You might even be this person.
You’re at a party and you see an acquaintance of yours. Let’s call him Tom.
Upon greeting Tom, he seems to remember a heap of little details about you and the last things you talked with him about, perhaps at another party months beforehand.
Tom carries the conversation with genuine interest, reflecting thoughtfully on your last point and prodding you to share more of your life, thoughts, dreams, etc.
You feel really good. Tom makes you feel valued, intelligent and interesting.
After the conversation, you have a skip in your step. Suddenly, you’re standing taller, gazing around the room, feeling confident that you have a lot to offer the people around you.
But did Tom really find your chronology of Syrian history fascinating?
Did he consider your analysis of Rachel Dolezal that thoughtful?
Was Tom really interested in the play by play of your kid’s basketball game?
The answer is: it doesn’t matter. Tom decided to be mindful in that conversation and devote careful attention to what you were saying, clearly indicating that he values your presence. As a result, you feel more comfortable, confident and more connected to Tom.
When it comes to interacting with kids, we need to be more like Tom.
- We need to be mindful in our conversations with kids, giving them our undivided attention.
- We need to hang off their every word, even if it is disorganized, drawn out, or uninformed.
- We need to show genuine interest, remember the details and ask good questions.
Because we want kids to have a skip in their step.
Because we want kids to stand taller and feel they have something to offer.
We want kids to feel more comfortable, confident and connected to the school environment and to the people in that environment.
We want kids to feel intelligent, valued and interesting.
Kids who feel better do better, and helping kids feel better can be done in one simple step: be like Tom.