Don’t let bad behavior take the cake

Written January 19, 2012. What a day! I've spent two days explaining SOPA. I think schools across the country are now awake to the fact of just how much their students use Wikipedia! After running home to study with my fourth grader and then going to the dentist (yuck) – I jumped in the car to go to a basketball game. But to get the full story, let's back up till 10 am this morning.

Photo Credit: Big Stock

At 10am I was worn out. Tired. Maybe it was the 2.2 miles I ran Tuesday or the fact I was asleep last night by 9pm or the nailbiting game we lost in overtime  by 1 point Tuesday night but by this morning I didn't know how I could teach.

Do you ever have those moments you don't know how you're going to make it? 
How are you going to keep teaching? This morning was one of those moments. so, as I pondered at break how I was going to motivate myself, I heard myself and what I say to my ninth graders to help them set goals,

“You are the greatest motivational speaker ever born to motivate yourself. What you say to yourself, your mind, body, and soul works to fulfill.”

It is true. So, I looked at my nutty day and said,

“What can I give myself to look forward to?”

And it was this. The girls game starts at 6:30 pm but my son doesn't play until 7:30 (probably.) The game is an hour away and I go through Albany. So, I decided to go to the only Starbucks between Macon and Tallahassee and YOU became my “prize” to look forward to.

It has been a hard week to write blog posts. I've written 6 recommendations for a very talented class of seniors and have four more to do tomorrow. But I really love to blog. I've been using Mr. Reader (my favorite iPad RSS Reader) on my ipad to keep up with the news and keep you posted on what is happening. I was in the dentist chair waiting and reading about the iBook 2 announcement. Without my glasses on, it took a really big squint at a news article to figure out that the iBooks Creator program couldn't be downloaded onto my iPad because it is a Mac App.

But between getting my teeth cleaned, and this ballgame, I knew if I could run by Starbucks for a skinny-whatever kind of coffee hit my mood that I'd have a boost.

Coffee and an Unexpected Conversation Overhead
When I walked in, I heard them negotiating. At first, I thought it was a woman negotiating for some sort of cake selling business online. That was until the large, older man leaned forward and said:

“3 dollars a slice! I want to see a $3 slice of cake.”

Then I knew, they were negotiating for their daughter's wedding cake. This must be their first or only one because they were clueless. The cake maker sat back in her chair with her color coded book and listened and answered questions with a small grin on her face. She knew how this would end.

The daughter knew what she wanted but didn't want to ask for it because she didn't want to spend her parent's money. Her parents wanted her to be happy. Her daddy was sorry that he said that about the $3 cake and there is no price he can put on his baby, you could see it in his glistening eyes. They love each other. Money can't buy that, but sometimes, there are times we confuse money for love. This was one of those times… it is for lots of daddys the world over.

He says,

“If money were no object, what cake would you want.”

She says,

“The strawberry, Daddy, I want the strawberry.” 

(Yes, she did say strawberry, I thought that odd too but I was trying my best to look like a disinterested person sipping her latte and ignoring the conversation that had me enthralled. I love families and I love daddies and mommies and babies and people. I love them. It was beautiful and priceless and I almost cry even now that they've left 15 minutes a go and I'm writing this blog post.)

Daddy turned to the cake lady with his mind on the prize and asked about the deposit. He said,

“If I pay it all now, will I get a discount?”
“well, I'm going to pay for the whole thing because then my daughter won't change her mind and she'll know this is OK. I want her to have this cake.”

The dad sat there and wrote a thousand some odd dollar check to the cake lady. From the looks of his cufflinks and shined shoes, he could pay for it, although he altogether looked like a man who had worked his way up and worked long and hard. There was no arrogance on this daddy's shoes or his face, just spectacles on the end of his nose, and wrinkles where wrinkles go on a person who looks at financial statements closely and doesn't write checks without thinking about it.

Perhaps he wrote the check because he knew he might change his mind but I saw his wife. I saw her move her foot with her toe just gently resting on his shoe and I saw her look at him with that loving look like he's the greatest man on the planet. And at this moment he is.

I wanted to go over there and tell him myself,

“You are a great daddy.”

But I didn't. I think I did a pretty good job of not letting them know just how moved I was.

Who is listening?

So, let me mention something to you. If a stranger in a Starbucks listens in — how much more are your children listening to you. How much more are your students hearing conversations between staff members? If people-loving people observers like me notice, you bet your three dollar cake the kids are watching everything.

There is no replacement for treating others with respect.

Want to know why so many kids love home schooling? No one is sure, but is it because so many schools have let themselves become a toxic maelstrom of unkindness and fussing. Yes, we have to improve education but if we do it by yelling, screaming, and tangling and have power struggles happening our students are going to know it. They know everything.

Think about the impression you're making.

I think the greatest teachers teach not only with their classroom content but with their social skills, their demeanor, their kindness.

I wrote a recommendation for a young lady today who I love very much. There are Lamborghini students and there are sedans. She's a dependable sedan. She may not get there the fastest but she will get there and she won't wreck. She'll take care of business. Her gentle spirit, unflappable demeaner, and kindness to everyone even when under stress makes me jealous. I want to be like her.

I want to be like that Daddy. He didn't let a misstep set the tone for the entire evening. He backed up and went the right direction.

Sometimes how we do things is more important than what we do anyway.

Think about this when you work towards reforming and improving your school. Don't let your bad behavior take the cake.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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