Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Half full or half empty?

Today was punctuated with a talk with a student that centered on the idea that there are two ways of viewing a cup half filled. You can look at it and see it as half full or as half empty - its the same thing but not quite. One view - its half empty - is deficit based; the other - its half full - is strength based. Our principal, often says, "If you want things to change, change the way you look at it."

Today, it occurred to me that these two bits of wisdom are connected. It also drove home the point to me that the way I use language is changing the way I think and it can be powerful when speaking to students. The student I spoke to today nodded as I explained the half full cup story and a smile crossed his face as he said, "Mr. King you got me thinking totally different than I was 40 minutes ago." However, he hadn't quite got it as he started speaking about his problems again. I stopped him and asked him if he could look at his problems differently; I asked him if instead of calling them problems, he called them challenges did that make things different. Again he smiled as he realized it changed the way he looked at things. I can't promise that his life will be better forever because of the conversation; but his mood lightened and left my office smiling. It made a difference for one day anyway.

Another student today who had spoken to me on Monday about struggling with his online class confessed that things were a little better than they had been. He was looking at one chunk of information at a time instead of looking at the whole course. I smiled inwardly because he made a point of wandering over to me to share his small success; I smiled more when he said, "Well I guess I'll be going, but I'll be back tomorrow." Baby steps, small successes; half full I'd say!

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