Mrs. Lawrence....

In the summer of 1979 my family moved to Walhalla, SC and that fall, I enrolled in a new school with new friends and a new way of life.  I loved a challenge - even then.  It was fun and exciting until Christmas....  at Christmas, everything changed because that's when Ms. Lawrence arrived.

I started the 4th grade year with a young, talented and caring teacher by the name of Ms. Barrett... she loved life and us kids.  Just before Christmas she told us that she was leaving to start a family... she was to have kids of her own and that a new teacher will be here after Christmas.  Mrs. Lawrence.  Mrs. Lawrence was a seventy year old retired teacher who was in South Carolina by way of New York and Miami.  She hated life and took it out on us kids.  No one liked her... certainly not me.

I do thank Ms. Lawrence for one thing.... a lesson on communication.

One day towards the end of the year and near the end of the day, Mrs. Lawrence said, 'o.k.  we're almost done, let's get ready to go'.  So I did.  I closed my book, grabbed my coat and stood by the door... I got ready to go... just as I was told to do.  Mrs. Lawrence was not happy!  She scolded me for getting ready too fast.  She even made me go out and get my parents so we could have a conference to about my behavior. 

It wasn't until years later that I realized what really happened - Mrs. Lawrence didn't say what she meant.  What she said was, 'o.k.  we're almost done, let's get ready to go' but what she meant was 'o.k.  finish your work, clean up your area and start to get ready to go'.  She failed to fully communicate and then was upset with me for not understanding what she meant.

There is the lesson - or lessons to be learned.

One, clearly communicate what you expect have happen.   If  you take a short cut in communication and then don't get the results you want - you are the one to blame - for at least half.    Don't get mad at the other person and especially don't make a big deal out of a situation that you helped create.

Two, if you are the one following instructions stop and think about it for a moment and if you don't understand or are unclear, ask questions.  Ask lots of questions - the other half of the blame is here by the way. This will better define what is to be done - or communicated - and force the sender to be more prepared next time for effective communication.

Thank you Mrs. Lawrence...wherever you may now be.