“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt
As educators, we constantly ask ourselves questions about the best way to serve our learners and guide them towards good global citizenship. Along the way, I believe we should also be questioning ourselves, our colleagues and our PLN. Recently, a young banker told me this, “We have to change the way we deal with our clients. We need to listen more to what they really need from us and focus less on selling them products. In the past, there was always a sales target; ‘In every exchange with the client, try to sell them as many products as possible’. Those days are over; we have to empathise with people. We have to connect. We can’t just pretend anymore.” In fact, nothing is new about this; if you look at community banking for farming communities 100 years ago, bankers were an extension of the family. The same bank manager helped fathers, their sons and their daughters run the family business. They cared about local business because the community depended upon it."
I have to admit I was surprised to hear this coming from a banker. So what about our own profession and the institutions that have ‘raised us’ as ELT professionals? There is a lot of talk about providing our learners with the skills they need to become true global citizens, but who is ready to equip us with the tools we need to become 21st century educators? Have we also become too wrapped up in the products of our trade to step back, listen more and empathise? At the same time we need to take a close look at the professional groups that we belong to. They shape our profession, don’t they? Are they ready to invest in us, to embrace change and grow with us? After being involved in BE and soft skills training for three decades, I have to stop and wonder if as a profession, we are failing miserably in the care stakes.
In corporate ELT people care about their business, their cashflow, their branding and social media, but what about the people? After all, we are in the people business, aren't we, 24/7? Does the corporate ELT world really care about people issues, teaching conditions, ethics and sustainability or does it just pay lip service to these things (like our politicians?)
So let's just take stock for a moment and consider the following questions.
Firstly, are you intentional about seeking the best in others, as opposed to seeing the worst? How is your empathy level? Do you really acknowledge the views of others or simply dismiss those you don't agree with? As managers and leaders, (if our goal is to get the most out of people) do you do this by providing sound support or do you implement a scorched earth policy? Other burning questions to ask yourself, to take away and ponder.
1 What exactly IS your legacy? What is the bigger picture and goal that you strive for?2 How are you documenting your legacies and how are your learners doing the same? 3 Are you really thinking for yourself and putting your personal touch into your work, or are you just following the job description and/or simply following what others have done or are doing?4 As a manager, leader and educator, do you make every conversation and interaction count? You may need that second cup of coffee now.
My own personal conclusion: The extent to which an experience inspires me often depends on my attitude and perspective. A shift in both these areas helps me grow and become more effective (and perhaps more successful?) What about you?
CARE = Commitment +Attitude + Respect + Effort