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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Benefit of the doubt

From Seth Godin's blog:

It's almost impossible to communicate something clearly and succinctly to everyone, all the time.

So misunderstandings occur.
We misunderstand a comment or a gesture or a policy or a contract.

And then what happens?

Well, if we're engaged with someone we like or trust, we give them the benefit of the doubt. We either assume that what they actually meant was the thing we expected from someone like them, or we ask about it.

If we're engaged with a stranger or someone we don't trust, we assume the worst.

The challenge, then, is to earn the benefit of the doubt.

This seems to fit nicely into a professional exploration I am conducting. With me as the subject.

I personally know myself and I know myself well enough to know that my intentions are excellent, my compassion heartfelt and my attention to detail consistent.

In fact, consistent is the one word that best describes my professional conduct with my students.

But, I don't always have enough "benefit of the doubt" with some of my students and their families. I also don't have sufficient of this commodity with a certain administrator.

I currently have a very low account balance with a significant portion of one grade, but I have an abundance of it with another grade. Unfortunately, the administrator notices the lower account and overlooks the abundant one.

I believe I have less credence with the one group due to some misinterpreted messages that grew up and beyond me before I knew about them. I believe that I have greater credence with the other group because I have been explicit with praise for specific achievements and a little more laid back with my approach to the class.  

If I were to evaluate my standing in both groups, I would see that with the group with a higher opinion of me lies more effort to meet the academic standards I have set for them. There is less fighting, less resistance and more openess to suggestions.

I will continue this exploration, and in the mean time, I am considering how one goes about reacquring  the benefit of doubt without pandering to mistaken behaviors of entitlement that come with certain middle school minds.

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