It was surprisingly difficult to speak the rehearsed script without looking at the notes.
I wrote this story, partly to help myself get through the traumatic incident from earlier in my life, and partly to help dentists be informed about what could be going on for the patient, and why they might not be able to speak about it at the time.
I offer this story with my deepest thanks and respect for your professional and caring treatment of me on 9th December 2019.
As she walked along the corridor to the classroom she could feel her shoulders rising to meet her ears. Her whole body was tensing up. From her stomach arose a whirlwind of fear. It reached past her heart and grabbed hold of her mind. Her body began to twist into a knot. Her face screwed into a scowl.
“Why does it always have to be this way with this class? They are so…”, she lamented.
“Wait a minute. What kind of energy are you bringing with you into the classroom?” interrupted her inner coach.
“What do you look like?”
“Well, it’s because…”
“What kind of face is that you have on?”
“What do you expect?”
“What do you expect? If you go into the room, feeling like that, looking like that? What’s the first thing they will see?”
“What’s the first thing they will do?”
“And what do you want them to do? Really? Deep down?”
“I want them to want to learn!”
“What can you do, to make that more possible?”
She stopped, straightened up.
She carried out her self-calming ritual. She took a deep breath. Then two more. Fear settled down. She sent fear back down to her belly and took control of her mind.
“This is going to be a wonderful lesson,” she told herself. Then said it out loud again, for extra measure as she opened the classroom door, “Wonderful lesson…”
At one college the janitor (whose job it is to clean the toilets, repair broken windows, clear graffiti etc) was proudly showing me around the super clean premises.
As he did so, we found groups of students sitting in stairways and huddled in groups in secret places hidden from view. He checked what the students were doing, should they be in class, are they lost, are they avoiding someone? He asked how they were feeling: if they were sick, tired, bored, scared...?
Every student spoke to the janitor with love and respect. It was heart-warming.
I asked how he had done it.
He told me he was a coach (an ACC certified coach!) and he had spent the first months of his new job getting to know the students and all their secret hiding places. He had spent months repairing the many broken windows and scrubbing a lot of graffiti from the walls.
I said, "Well, it sure looks clean now."
He replied, "We have had no graffiti for a year, no broken windows and no mess in the corridors. They would not do that to me."
Later, I commended the headteacher for employing a coach to clean the school.
“As long as he does his job” he said abruptly.
Then he winked at me.
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