Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Who Signed Me Up For This?

I begin this post by saying this is one of the longest stretches of time between posts (August 16 - November 11)  since I began The Critical Thinker some years ago . I guess one could say I just have not been in the mood for writing because certainly there is more than enough to write for us to critically think about. I feel as if The Critical Thinker has been missing in action.

Educators reading this will agree that we all have humorous stories based on situations occurring with our students, families, and colleagues that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Teachers and administrators commonly lament that at the end of their careers they could write a book, and those sentiments are true. As we meet with each other, we share stories about what has happened in our classrooms and in our buildings that in some instances seem unbelievable but are indeed true. While many of the stories are humorous or horrifying, they also in some instances contain a bigger life lesson embedded within. With all of that said, I'm sharing one of these stories with you that for me has a life lesson interpretation within it. This story always brings a hearty laugh between me and my colleague Nancy when we reference it with each other. In fact, the question appearing in the title of this post has become a code between me and Nancy when something  is said or done in our business that does not make sense (Shhh...that's our little secret).

The story goes like this...... there was a student who was as cute as they come; however, he could be as troublesome as he was cute. Each year our school was the recipient of toys donated by a magnanimous organization who visited our school with Santa Claus. The generous donors would solicit the name of each child and some possible ideas as to what toys to bring. This would happen as early as September or October. Throughout the months leading up to the Christmas holidays, teachers would constantly remind their students about the Santa Claus visit and how their behavior could impact what gifts they received from him. The old story about the lump of coal was shared repeatedly with the students particularly those who chose not to follow the rules and our little handsome friend heard this story probably more than most; however, he chose to ignore the warnings.

One day after experiencing the actions of this student, his teacher came to me and said I know how to help this student understand the connection between his actions and consequences and the lesson will be learned when Santa Claus is here.  Well, the big day arrived! All of the lower grade students were brought into a large room in the school that had been decorated with colorful lights, tinsel, a Christmas tree and gorgeously decorated gifts. In the center of it all was the big Santa Claus chair with Santa Claus seated in it. As the children entered the room their eyes widened, their smiles broadened, and their squeals heightened. Excitement was in the air! Each teacher lined his/her class up alongside the Santa chair and each child to his/her delight spoke with the jolly white bearded man one by one. At the end of each conversation, Santa Claus gave the child a gift which ranged from a bicycle, video game, board game, doll, skateboard, to a deck of cards. If you have read this far, I am sure you have figured out which gift our little friend received.

After each class received their gifts, they were asked to assemble for a group picture. As our little friend’s class grouped to take their picture, the children stood proudly with their gifts with the exception of our little friend. With a slight stutter he turned and asked the question, "Who, who signed me up for this?" The teacher looked at me with the smile of a Cheshire Cat and as our eyes met, I knew the answer to the young man's question.

I share this story because oftentimes in life, we also ask "Who signed me up for this?," not realizing that it was our own choices and decisions that brought us whatever we received causing us to ask that question.and others such as "Why the heck am I experiencing THIS in my life?," or "Why ME? Why NOW? Why THIS?"  I'm sure we have all said, "What? You've GOT to be kidding!" Just like the student whose behavior caused the teacher to select the deck of cards for him compared with a bicycle for one of  his classmates, our choices bring about our outcomes. We reap what we sow and this student reaped a deck of cards for what his behavior had sewn from September through December.

I love metaphors and parables as they contain meanings beyond the surface. As things get challenging for me and Nancy as we lead our respective schools, we will look at each other in meetings and laugh as we both say "Who signed me up for this?" In the final analysis, the truth of the matter is, we sign ourselves up for whatever we receive based on our choices and decisions. We must ask ourselves what am I sowing? And once we have honestly answered that question for ourselves, we must then choose wisely. Something to critically think about.

I invite you to join me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time on and WP88.7 FM as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01. Lastly, follow me on YouTube and  download The Reading Circle mobile app on Itunes or Google.

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