Why Bother to Not Assume?
Everybody collects something and I am a quotation collector. I use little notebooks that measure 5 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches. Sometimes I even remember to write down a date, as well as the author.
On most mornings, I read through a few quotes until I find one that makes me pause, smile, or motivates me. Today, I read one that did all three.
Though I don’t remember reading a Bertice Berry book, I have written in one of my little notebooks, seven of her quotes. The one that popped out at me today was, “Challenge your assumptions. Imagine new options. Act on them.”
This week, I did just that. My assumptions were indeed challenged. I surprised myself with imagining new options and then, actually acted on them.
It all began when my principal told me to expect thirty-one students on the first day of school. I assumed I’d never be able to pull off managing thirty-one fourth grade students let alone teach them. I adopted the attitude that it would be impossible to carry on as a sane teacher, that there simply was not ample space in my classroom and that nothing could be accomplished with that many kids.
That is what happens when we assume. We begin to suppose or accept that something is true when it is not.
Not wanting to feel defeated before even beginning the new school year, I began to imagine new options. Perhaps not everyone will actually show up and I was right. Only twenty-nine students filed through my doorway each day this week.
Then, as the week progressed, another possibility popped up into my mind. I could enlist the help of the best students in the classroom. On Friday, I acted on that possibility. I invited six of my star students to have lunch with me in my classroom. They were thrilled to be chosen.
While munching away on sandwiches and chips, I asked each one to tell me their story of how they became good students. In other words, I asked them how they knew to sit up, pay attention and sit quietly. How did they learn how to follow directions, smile and ask good questions?
Their wisdom was insightful. They’d all been sent to the principal’s office, been reprimanded by a teacher or parent at least once in their lives and then it “snapped” for them. They told me they’d all decided to just be better and do better. It was that simple for them.
With their help, I know I can not only manage a classroom of twenty-nine fourth graders, learning will also take place.
Why bother to not assume? Assuming only shuts down the endless possibilities we might imagine could help us overcome our challenges. Challenge those assumptions and then just watch what happens.