Acknowledgement

Telling someone that they are amazing, naturally creative, resourceful and whole with unbounded potential is NOT an acknowledgement.

A few years ago, another senior leader said he observed that members of my team loved me and would do just about anything for me. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that. He wanted to know how that came to be. My initial inclination was to tell him that it needs to start with letting them know and trust that their growth and success is very important to you.

However, luckily, I realized that statement would have been wrong.

Instead, I recognized and said, it starts with it actually being truly important to you that they grow and succeed. To his credit, he was honest enough to say that he had never seen that as an aspect of leadership. Your team will not believe you care unless you actually do.

So, back to my original statement:

Telling someone that they are amazing, naturally creative, resourceful and whole with unbounded potential is NOT an acknowledgement.

You yourself recognizing, truly believing and internalizing that they are amazing, naturally creative, resourceful and whole with unbounded potential is the actual acknowledgement. Telling them that they are amazing is a statement of acknowledgement.

Nonetheless, the magic doesn’t really happen until they themselves recognize, acknowledge and truly believe in their own ability to growth, achieve and succeed without bound. When you truly recognize another person’s magnificence, they are much more likely to also see it themselves.

Acknowledgement in the Classroom

When teaching, especially 8th graders, if you want to have any hope of reaching your students, you need their trust. Start with first acknowledging yourself that they are fully capable individuals. This is a necessary foundation for establishing genuine trust. It’s hard to make progress in the classroom if there isn’t a connection established. I remember a school event where parents where dumbfounded that their 8th graders were asking me to be in selfies with them. If you can have that kind of connection with 8th graders, you can also help them appreciate that your objective is to enable them to discover they are ready for life. Now you can begin evoking the transformation to help them learn how to learn.

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National award-winning Palo Alto teacher takes unusual approach

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