believe them

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.

Maya Angelou

This quote slipped into my thinking the other day.

The connotation I often associate with it is one of negative behaviour.

But what about believing who people are, in a deeper sense?

For example, I am also a teacher. I do supply (read; cover for sick teachers) for the flexibility and to avoid all the paperwork, and have heard enough times that I am good at it to believe it.

However, in each place I work, I make it clear that I do not want to have a full-time classroom position.

You would be amazed by how few people really believe that. To the extent that, without my permission, and really without any choice, my role was changed from a cover teacher to a Year 6 teacher.

Who I was, was not believed.

To make a comparison, a different school was hiring for the next academic year. The deputy headteacher suggested me to the headteacher, who instantly said, “Oh no, she loves doing supply. She doesn’t want a class of her own.”

It was a delightful feeling. I felt known, and that who I was was respected.

Being known and recognised for who you really are is a wonderful thing.

B​ut even more than that, we need to start using our words to show people that we know who they are. Because how often do you really remember, and have confidence, in who you are?

All this means is, when someone makes something beautiful, shows an incredible skill, impresses you with what they’ve done, don’t just assume that they know that it’s fantastic.

Tell them.

Chances are they have really struggled in getting to where they have, and could do with a reminder that they did a good job, and they can do impressive things.

So let’s try and do that for our people. Believe who they are when they show it, and remind them of when they need it.


Jena Ren, 2022

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