So a couple of weeks ago at a child study meeting we began speaking about a beautiful little kid who has been struggling recently with his behavior, both inside and outside of the classroom. We were trying to figure out the root of his attention seeking behavior when all of a sudden it came to us that he wasn’t just seeking attention, he was desperately looking for some connections and a deeper sense of belonging. As the meeting was ending, our conversation turned to that whole idea of what we tend to refer to as “attention seeking”, and we agreed to start referring to it as “connection seeking” from now on.
You see, something powerful happened when we started to look at his troubling behavior through this subtle lens change. It became much easier for us to get to the root of what he ultimately needed, and why he was displaying these behaviors in the first place. When framing the issue with the idea of connection and belonging in mind, we quickly moved past the behaviors themselves, and got to the cause and to the why with a greater sense of compassion and care.
The timing of that meeting was important for me, because this past week was chock-full of difficult issues and conversations involving not only students but adults as well, and as it turned out, every one of those situations was rooted in the individual needing a deeper connection in one way or another. It got me thinking about our school-wide initiative around belonging, and how important it is for our school, and for all schools, to be digging into this work.
Just to be clear, when we talk about belonging, we’re talking about four specific areas under that umbrella term, which are: the need to be seen, heard, valued, and protected. So when dealing with a couple of the issues involving adults this past week, I actually went to a few members of the child study team, and we engaged in a kind of “adult study” dialogue, where we looked at the issue through that connection seeking lens. What we discovered was that in every instance the adult was not receiving what they needed from at least one of those four areas, and just like the little kid that we had discussed two weeks ago, the adults were simply seeking what they ultimately desired, a deeper sense of belonging…but isn’t that just what it is to be human? We all need to be seen, and heard, and protected, and valued, and if we have a deficit in one of those areas it will eventually show up in one way or another, and that isn’t specific to kids, it’s the same with all people I think.
Anyway, with all that in mind, I’m going to start viewing the world through more of a “belonging” lens, and I’m asking you all to try it out as well. I think it will help us all to show up to certain situations with a little more care, and a little more compassion, and a little more love…I know it won’t hurt to have a little more of those in our lives. Have a wonderful week and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…
Communication Is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity – Sean Stephenson
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