Assume the best intent in others around you. You will often be right, and even when you’re not, people can rise to your view of them. Not always, but enough that I believe it’s worth it.
Assume the Best
Someone took my cell phone while I was in the security line. “Someone must have made a mistake,” I said aloud when I realized it was missing, and I took Andy’s cell phone to activate the “Find My Phone” alarm.
In the wide open airport, we could hear the beeping, but couldn’t find the phone. We spread out, the security guards helping us cover more space, and I played the sound again—three more times, and then my phone was disconnected.
“Someone turned it off?” I was stunned. Surely it was just a mistake, but now that my phone was turned off, I wasn’t sure.
“The police have been notified,” the security guard informed me. “They are looking at the footage to see if they can determine who took your phone. You will need to file a police report.”
The final boarding call for my flight was announced. The security guard took Andy’s phone number and said he would call with any news.
It’s strange how missing something as small as a phone can feel so big. I buckled my seat and reminded myself to stay calm. Andy’s phone rang, and it was the police officer. They had located the person who took my phone. The officer described the woman, but it was hard to see from my seat. Then the officer described her traveling companion. I scanned the people on the plane, and next to me was a man who fit the description.
“He’s right beside me,” I told the police officer.
The police officer encouraged me to ask the woman if she had mistakenly picked up the wrong cell phone. “Be kind,” the officer instructed me.
I smiled, because I say those words often…both to those around me and to myself. I reach across the aisle and tap the woman’s shoulder. She offered a warm smile, and I asked, “Could you have picked up my cell phone by accident?”
“Would you mind double checking?” I asked.
“I already did when they announced it earlier. I just have my phone. I don’t have an extra.”
My heart sank.
I sat in my seat and turned my attention back to the police officer on the phone.
Meanwhile, the man who was traveling with the woman pulled two cell phones out of his pocket. One looked just like mine. He nudged the woman, and her eyes widened. She opened her purse and took another phone that looked just like mine out of the pocket.
She held both phones in her hand, and then turned to me. Perhaps she’s been on The Price Is Right, because it was like she had just been called down as the next contestant. She was waving her hands and squealing, “It’s here! It’s here!”
I reached out for my phone. “Look,” said the woman. “It looks just like mine! I can’t believe it! I had it the whole time. I couldn’t figure out why my passcode wouldn’t work on it and why it kept beeping at me, so I shut it down and decided to deal with it after the plane landed.”
It turned out her husband had picked up her phone out of the security line, and she had picked up mine.
I was reminded that things are often not what they seem. That woman had had zero malicious intent when she picked up my cell phone and shut it down. She had also been clueless that she had my cell phone. It was a ridiculous thought to her, because even when she had double-checked she thought she was in possession of her own phone.
It is good to pause and assume the best in others. It is good to give people some space to let them figure things out. It is true in our classrooms, too. Sometimes things are not what they seem. The child is not lazy. The homework is not intentionally undone. The misunderstanding wasn’t anyone’s fault. When we pause and assume the best in others, we often find that integrity, grace, and kindness unfold.
This week we look at technology and routines—plus more, as always.
Ruth Ayres is the editor in chief of the Choice Literacy site and the director of professional learning for The Lead Learners Consortium in northern Indiana. Ruth previously worked as a middle and high school language arts and science teacher and a K-12 instructional coach. She is the author of Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers (Stenhouse, 2017) and other books for teachers of writers. When not writing professionally, Ruth collects stories of adoption, faith, and whimsy. You can follow her at Ruth Ayres Writes or @ruth_ayres on Twitter or Instagram.
Join the Choice Literacy Book Club! Jen Schwanke selected Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal as our July read. Grab a copy, and join the conversation using the hashtag #ChoiceLiteracyBookClub.
Bill Bass explains why teachers who are still using technology as a reward are far behind their colleagues in integrating computers and applications into workshops. (Originally published in 2015, this article remains timeless in wisdom and application.)
Mandy Robek faces the challenge of creating a warm and inviting classroom environment while finding a practical place for technology. Mandy wrote this article in 2012, and her advice is just as savvy today as it was then.
House of #EdTech offers a recent podcast episode about #edtech tools to explore.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
In an encore article, Kate Mills and Tara Barnett consider the power of asynchronous lessons in creating a student-centered learning environment.
Jen Schwanke offers advice to fight against burnout.
Chris Lehman, Keri Orange-Jones, and Elizabeth Lacy-Schoenberger guide us to thoughtfully reflect on the now-popular term “learning loss” and the negative effect it can have on schools.
Deep Dive: It’s a Cycle, Not a Hamster Wheel: Getting the Most Out of Coaching Cycles: Dana Murphy takes you into the nitty-gritty of coaching cycles with examples and advice from experienced literacy coaches from across the country. You’ll view videos of an initial meeting between a coach and a teacher to plan a cycle and sample demonstration lessons within a cycle, as well as quick ttips for getting organized and taking good notes throughout the cycle. (This course was created in 2019.)
Words are free. It’s how you use them that will cost you.
That’s all for this week!