I've written about a particular co-workers here and here and here. What I haven't written about is how he has changed. After eight months of ignoring advice from everybody in the office, he finally got the clue and changed. Unfortunately he waited to change until after the number of students quitting because of him was brought the principal's attention. In the last two months, he has developed report with the students and started acting like a leader, but in a case of too little too late, he isn't being resigned.
I wouldn't mind if he stayed. I like how he is these days. He never was a bad person, just clueless. What surprises me though is how many people in the office can't see the change. Or perhaps, it's more than that. There's a "there must be a bad guy" mentality at the center. Even though he has changed, he's treated unfairly for every mistake.
I had an epiphany of sorts the other day. I've been a bit forgetful recently. Like not hugely forgetful, but about three weeks ago, I forgot to turn off the lights in the office. Then, the next week I forgot to turn off the computer in the restaurant classroom. And then on the day of my epiphany, I forgot to turn off my desktop.
Because I have forgotten those things, I've suddenly found myself being treated as if I was a terrible worker. Never mind the 1001 moving parts of the center that I remember. I am bad. It struck me then that I've been having this feeling when That Guy gets treated badly. It's, Thank God it's not me. Then I realized that I had been participating. Yikes!
Way back when I first started getting good at horseback riding an instructor said to start each day as a blank slate. Forget what the horse did before and ride him as he is now. I carried this over into my teaching. No matter what I student does one day, tomorrow was a new day. And it worked. Instead of treating kids how I thought they might be, I treated them how they were. However, I haven't been doing that with my co-workers.
The thing is, when you carry an expectation, your interactions are colored by those expectations, which can cause expectation fulfillment. There is a positive side to this when, on rare occasions, people and/or animals fulfill your good expectations. But far too often, we remember the one time Mr. Ed was afraid of the bucket in the corner. We forget the 1001 times Mr. Ed trotted past the bucket fine, and, because we are worried about the bucket, Mr. Ed will begin to worry about it too.
I think it's part of human nature. We tend to remember one negative moment and forget the positive ones. So I'm going to challenge you (dear readers) and myself to wipe the slate clean, to write a blank check each day for someone you work with or a pet that's driving you crazy or your mother. To do this for one week.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018