Cheryl Seagren
Post count: 3

I tend to think that things are about me and that the other person’s behavior is a reflection on who I am or how well I did something. Often I feel that-if I had thought harder or managed better- I could have come up with the perfect solution for that student or that they would behave differently. This is an exhausting way to live and isn’t too helpful for my students either. However, I am beginning to understand that I see behavior through my own internal maps, unique lenses, and values.

Knowing that a student’s behavior is closely tied to their past experiences, relationships, and perceptions helps me to be more objective. I can respond with curiosity (“I wonder what this kiddo is seeing in this moment?”) and compassion (“Wow, it must be really hard to feel_____________”). If I can honor and understand the set-up, I know better how to attune to that student and am less prone to feeling out of control and hyper-aroused. Self-reflection helps to own what is mine.

This helps when working with parents as well. I worked with a second grader who was anxious in lots of areas of her life. She improved a lot at school: She could walk to the classroom by herself and have a good day even when her best friend was absent. When I called to check in with her parents, her mom reported that she had made no progress at home, was still unable to sleep by herself, and was afraid to be in a room alone. At first, I felt like I had failed…and then I thought about the setup. This mom was showing me what her world was like and how powerless she felt to help her daughter. It was no longer about me and I was able to say, “Wow, that sounds frustrating and like- no matter what you do- it doesn’t help.” I was able to keep one foot in and one foot out and, hopefully, help her feel felt.

When I can remember to respect and honor behavior as a very personal expression related to how the student sees the world and what they need, it shifts my perspective and I feel that I can be more present and authentic.