To anyone who ever came to my campus, building, or district to train me in something, I apologize.
I was probably a jerk.
In my defense, I didn't realize it. But things look very different when you're standing in front of a room full of teachers than it does when you're sitting at a table in the midst of them. When everything flips and there's only one of you facing a bunch of them, you realize how overwhelming the little things can become.
So as my public penance for what I realize now was exceptionally rude behavior, I offer these five apologies.
- I apologize for constantly checking my phone during your presentation.
I thought I could multi-task. And maybe I could. But in reality, I was engaged in behavior that I would never have accepted from my students. I let myself be distracted by the constant stream of information from "out there" and ignored what was happening right in front of me.
You were nice enough to pretend you didn't notice, but I know you did. And it probably made you roll your eyes (on the inside, of course) and wonder if anything you were trying to teach was sinking in.
- I apologize for never looking up from my computer.
Even if it was a technology training, you're human too. I could have encouraged you, nodded my head, maybe even smiled a bit. It would have let you know that what you were saying wasn't just bouncing off the top of my head. But I didn't. I just stared at my screen like a comatose zombie and never looked up. My mother would have been disappointed in me and my complete lack of manners.
- I apologize for carrying on "quiet" side conversations.
I really thought I wasn't disturbing anyone. After all, I only made the occasional small comment to the people I was sitting with. Only it wasn't small. It was disruptive, especially when it co-mingled with the other "quiet" side conversations of my colleagues. From where you were standing, it quickly became a swelling tidal wave of noise that you had to almost shout over in order to be heard.
- I apologize for interrupting your presentation with a question that could have waited.
My impulsivity got the best of me. I could have jotted my question down or made a note to myself. But for some reason, I felt the need to make you stop your train of thought, sometimes even mid-sentence, to answer. Sometimes what I asked wasn't even directly related to what you were talking about at that moment.
You were very gracious and took the time to answer, but what I did was more an act of narcissism than of knowledge. My bad, it won't happen again.
- I apologize for refusing to do anything I was even mildly uncomfortable with.
I'm not a big risk-taker, especially if I think I might look stupid. I'm working on that now. But at the time you were presenting, I wasn't in the mood to try something new. I wouldn't get up when you asked. I excused myself from the room. I even pretended I had an urgent phone call.
But by doing that, I missed a chance to learn something new, explore a novel idea, or just remember what it feels like to be a student. I should have taken that opportunity. But I didn't, and I'm poorer for it.
So to anyone who has ever tried to teach me something, I realize how unbecoming the way I acted was. I'm not saying that I'm going to be perfect from here on out, but I'm going to start doing the grown-up thing and think about my behavior from a viewpoint other than my own. It's the professional thing to do.