A young woman, new to teaching, sat in the back of the training. If she had a smile, I never saw it. Her look said, “Bored. Bored. Bored.” A loud yawn escaped her mouth after lunch. A few teachers turned at the sound. She texted under the lip of the table.
At the end of the day, the training was well-received. Educators wrote actionable goals for themselves. They said they were inspired. The young woman moved up toward me and left a note by my computer.
After packing up, I read it.
“Thank you for this day. I’ve felt so lost teaching writing. Nobody really tells you how to do it, they just think you should know. So I’ve been doing a prompt a day on worksheets. Now I’m putting that crap away. You’ve given me hope of doing it differently.”
I was stunned. Stunned. How could this be the same person? Could it have been that her bored demeanor was actually discomfort? Could the yawn have been acceptance that now that she knew better, she’d do better?
Have. Positive. Presuppositions.
I believe I learned this first from Art Costa. What the phrase means to me in coaching is that I must believe that everyone is bringing their best selves to the table. That their intentions are for good. That there is always more to their story than meets the eyes and ears.
But she’d really stumped me. I was sure she hadn’t learned anything, that she was disappointed and that her evaluation would be the one that read, “waste of time.”
And I was wrong. Why? Because I hadn’t had positive presuppositions. If I had I would’ve seen the bored expression and considered, maybe she’s thinking deeply. I would’ve heard the yawn and thought, she must need more sleep because she’s a hardworking new teacher. Her texts might have been notes to herself about what she wanted to remember to do when she got back to the classroom.
Have positive presuppositions is the first norm for our coaching team. It’s the destination we strive to go. “Positive Presuppositionland” is a place where I don’t take things personally. I trust myself and others. Everywhere I look I see glasses half full. It’s a fine place to visit and an even better place to live.