When I was in my teacher training during University, one of my students was shot and killed in a drive-by.
That was the kind of neighborhood I worked in.
I was young, white, and totally naive, working in a disadvantaged, and predominantly black community of Boston.
It was where I wanted to be, but I had so much to learn.
To say that my first few months were a struggle, would be an understatement.
One time I dropped a stack of textbooks on the floor, in order to scare the students into listening to me, and even then, it was only for a second before they returned to their conversations.
They didn't care about me, and they didn't care about whatever history I was trying to teach them.
Then, one night, one shared experience, and it all changed.
We were invited by the Boston Historical Society to hear someone speak about their experiences in Vietnam.
As we got off the bus, we were ushered into the lobby, and brought down to the basement of the building.
As we entered the stark white room with its television, it dawned on us.
We weren't there to watch him live.
We were there to watch the video feed.
Presumably, where our young, black students wouldn't cause any "trouble" or make a scene.
After writing a scathing letter to the Boston Historically society, which I read aloud to the students, our relationship did a complete about-face.
They actively engaged in my lessons.
They started staying after school.
They walked me to my car (so I wouldn't get shot)
They even started invited me to their homes for dinner.
Up until that fateful moment in the basement, they didn't know I cared.
We had no connection.
And then we did.
Whether you're working with a group of teenagers, or giving feedback to a direct-report, ALL content will be filtered through the lens of CARE.
Does this person care about me?
Do I feel any sort of connection to them as a fellow human?
You see, all learning is state dependent - emotionally and mentally. If the person is not in a state to hear what you have to say, they won't.
Your message will not enter.
Your feedback will be ignored.
I sometimes wonder who was doing the teaching all those years ago.
Does connection and care matter to you when you get feedback?
Originally posted on LinkedIn with comments.
Read Deeper Not Faster
I am Theresa Destrebecq.