I’m not much of an artist, but allow me to try and paint a picture here for you. The courtyard of the high school where I teach or probably any high school for that matter may fit this description…
-Ketchup packets strewn about on the ground that some teen thought would be funny to stomp on all the while engaging in flip the bottle contest with pals.
-A table full of girls turning their backs to a couple of boys who like sloths slowly make their way over, move in with a sly grin, throw out a couple of jokes and boom-score a number!
-Laughter, smiles, teens vigorously trying to type their essay before the next class.
-Group of boys rough housing it on the lawn, tormenting the young bucks on the team with a few slams to the ground and a lunch monitor giving a slight warning to knock it off.
Yep, we see it all on the daily including the times where the opportunity zooms overs their heads to create a connection or a touchpoint with a friend, teacher, parent. Today was no different. ‘Laura’ – sitting with four friends at lunch. As they always do, they pop open the lunch boxes, cell phone in hand or within quick reach. She began to confide in them that her father had been in a serious accident and was in the hospital. Each taking their turn with the required “aww, sorry- hope he’s ok” while continuing to text and stare scrolling right along on their devices. Now in some cases, keeping things as normal as possible can be helpful.
In her situation, she needed them to really listen and could sense that they weren’t truly interested in what she was sharing. A few moments later, she gathered her lunch and backpack and off she headed towards the library.
It is so easy to miss these opportunities to make a deposit into the relationships that matter– to create meaningful connections where people feel validated, heard, appreciated, supported and where people know that trust and empathy are present. When we do this, it leads to more productive and healthier relationships between parent & child, among friends, partners, colleagues and within our communities.
As a teacher and Mom of two, I must guide my students and children in understanding and practicing the right times and situations to plug into their cell phones/computers and when to plug into people and the moments that matter.
I must also remember to practice what I teach.
Please watch Simon Sinek discuss it best in describing the generational changes and the power of connection in our personal and professional relationships.