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Go Hug A Kindergarten Teacher! What I Learned About Leadership and Motivation from My Son’s Kindergarten Teacher

08 Feb Posted by in Business, Random Observations | Comments

Yes, we teach our son at home. I can see the look of shock on your face. And I can hear your response, “You’ve got to be kidding! You teach your child at home? There is no way you would get me to homeschool my child!” I know that’s what you’re thinking because that’s the same look and response I get nine out of ten times.  Shoot, it’s the same response I give myself.

It’s tough for a kid to be homeschooled. He won’t get to letter in football, but will have to letter in solitaire instead. What? They don’t actually letter in things anymore? Well, there you go. Good thing we homeschool. And he will always be the slowest kid in class – then again, he’ll also be the fastest. And he always gets the lead in the school play, even though we have to allow for extra long dramatic pauses so he can run to the audience and clap. You should have been there when he gave himself a standing ovation. He told me he wanted to know what real school was like, so I bought him a back pack, let him ride a bus, and then shoved up against a locker and called him names all day. But this isn’t an article about homeschooling. This isn’t even just for parents. This is a shout out to kindergarten teachers and what they teach us about leadership and motivation.

Her name is Mrs. Bear – my son’s virtual kindergarten teacher.  I said I homeschool, I didn’t say I actually teach him myself. My son’s class is virtual, meaning we watch a video stream of another class in progress and we are sitting in the back. But they can’t hear us or see us, even though sometimes they will talk to “you students back at home” which I told my son is his school name.

Mrs. Bear is his teacher and I felt an instant connection to her. Maybe it was her smile, or maybe it was the fact that the video was filmed in the eighties and her big hair, print pantsuits, and long blazers took me back to the good old days of parachute pants and thick glasses.

When I first heard her speak in that soft sweet voice about an octave higher than a dog whistle, I thought to myself, “No way. No way does this woman talk like this all the time.”  But videos don’t lie – not ones that run for hours, day after day. That woman is just as sweet on Monday at eight am as she is on Friday at noon. I don’t understand it, but sometimes it’s best to just accept the mysteries in life without question. (My husband and I think that she probably gets home and yells and throws things for the rest of the night. Just to have a little balance). I have never seen anything like it. This woman smiles the entire day. Even when she’s reprimanding, she’s still smiling. It’s like getting punished and hugged at the same time. She never raises her voice.

She is a perfect example of the right workplace attitude. And don’t tell me your job is more stressful – just watch a kindergarten teacher for a day.  A room full of kindergartners is like herding stray cats. They never stop wriggling. They don’t stop scratching. They ask random questions, over and over. You ask them to spell one and they say purple. They get distracted about every thirty seconds and the slightest thing can take them in a different direction. But Mrs. Bear  is patient. I’m yelling at my kid in the first five minutes. Not Mrs. Bear. She doesn’t yell once ever.

Lesson One: Attitude is a Choice. Don’t wait for your day to be good – make it good.

Mrs. Bear makes everything exciting! Today, boys and girls, we are going to talk about germs!!! And you really believe that today will be the best day ever. That there is this whole world out there you have never discovered before and it’s all exciting!

Lesson Two:  You bring passion to your job. No one can make your work fun but you.

Mrs. Bear doesn’t frown when you draw a tree with arms, or a head with feet and no body. Mrs. Bear doesn’t care if your monkey noise doesn’t sound like a real monkey or if your glitter glue went out of the lines. She will tell you it’s beautiful anyway – and thank you for trying.

Lesson Three: Creativity is okay in the workplace. In fact, it’s the key to standing up and sticking out in a crowded market. And we all have it in us – just look at our children. Bring it back to your day.

Mrs. Bear has to tell some kids the same thing over and over and over and over. And she doesn’t look at them like they are stupid, or send a note home to their parents suggesting a trade school. She stops, and sits with them.

Lesson Four: Success doesn’t happen in one step. It’s about persistence. There are no easy answers, short cuts, or quick fixes to fulfillment. It’s about sitting there day after day working on your S’s.

And yet, throughout all of this, Mrs. Bear does not put up with any crap. You don’t step out line if you’re not supposed to step out of line. You don’t talk when it’s not your turn. And you don’t pull on your privates during show and tell.

Lesson Five: You can lead and discipline and manage others and command respect, while still treating them with grace at the same time.

I think Mrs. Bear is a true example of leadership. She gets respect. She’s earned it. And yet you know she loves you – even when you’re the one who’s name falls out of the lines. Way to go Mrs. Bear. Wish more people were like you.

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