Thursday, December 28, 2017

Be a Thermostat!

When we came home this evening, our house was freezing!  My husband had turned the heater way down and it's actually cold here in Texas right now.  When I went to turn the heat up so that I could enjoy a warm and restful evening, I was reminded of a metaphor I once heard and couldn't help but think about how it relates to the classroom, campus, and district culture.  The metaphor actually comes from a sermon that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave in 1954.  His message was this...

"Be a thermostat, not a thermometer."

When I first heard those words, it took some explanation before I really understood what it meant.  You see, a thermostat sets the temperature in the room and makes it a comfortable space for those that are within its influence.   This doesn't mean that some people aren't a little too hot or a little too cold, but it means that the temperature is adjusted to what is most appropriate at the time.   It is constantly checking the temperature of the room and making adjustments to maintain a temperature that is just right.  A thermometer, on the other hand, reacts to what is going on around it.  If it's hot, it reacts by displaying a high temperature...if it's cold, it reacts by displaying a low temperature. 

Unfortunately, it's easy to be a thermometer in education.  It's easy to react to a situation and display a hot or cold demeanor.  In the classroom, it's easy to yell or be sarcastic when students are not being respectful or doing things that they know they shouldn't.  It's also easy to react this way when we are around other teachers that have a way of making our temperature rise.  When we get hot, we say and do things that we don't mean.  When we get cold, we often react by pulling away and trying to do things on our own.  Both of these reactions are detrimental to the culture of a classroom and a school.

Instead of reacting to the temperature, set it.  Find your temperature and allow others to feel your influence.  Do what you know to be right for today's learners and set a temperature that makes others want to do the same.  In the classroom, this may mean taking a minute to think before reacting to a situation.  It might mean that you share ideas with a colleague that has a completely different view about what today's classroom should look like.  It may be something as small as smiling at an administrator that you know is having a difficult day.  Whatever it might be, make adjustments to maintain a temperature that is consistent and influential.

So as we start the new a thermostat.  Be proactive instead of reactive and encourage others to do the same.  Let's make 2018 an amazing year in our classrooms, campuses, and districts!


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