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Minding Your Tongue: How to Recover from a Slip and Fail

foot_mouthWhether it is a minor slip of the tongue or an entire foot in the mouth, either can lead to some uncomfortable moments followed by the instinct to explain what was “really meant.”  While most are truly embarrassed and even remorseful when making a racially, culturally, or gender-related insensitive comment, attempts to make explanations or excuses often create a more uncomfortable situation for both speaker and hearers.

Admit and Apologize

If recognition of the faux pas is immediate – as often happens- it is best not to wait for acknowledgment that it was received negatively. Unfortunately, all too often such comments are left unchallenged either by the intended or unintended target of the comment or bystanders.[1] Do not walk away with the false sense of relief that the comment went unnoticed, it is almost a definite it was noticed. The most effective thing to do is to admit you were insensitive, admit your own embarrassment, and apologize for any discomfort or embarrassment caused to others.[2]

Air Out and Move On

 Often an admission of insensitivity and a sincere apology is enough to move beyond the moment; however, depending upon the comment and others involved it may be necessary for some open discussion; again, no excuses. Having discussions of race and culture are often uncomfortable, especially in times when cultural tensions are high. Some may feel that there is an oversensitivity, but unless shoes are on other feet and miles walked in them, these types of assumptions should not be made. It is believed by diversity and inclusion professionals[3] that a work environment that invites open dialogue on these sensitive topics is one where employees develop an awareness of their own biases all the while fostering an awareness and appreciation for those who are different.

Diversity Training – Not a One and Done

 Most organizations offer diversity and inclusion training as a part of their onboarding process, annually to satisfy EEOC requirements, or in reaction to an occurrence; however due to a lack of follow up, many fall short of being truly effective.[4] Just as employees receive ongoing development of their professional skills and knowledge base, they should receive ongoing training in the areas of racial and cultural awareness, [5] for one cannot be sensitive to the feelings of others, until he or she forms an awareness and appreciation for the differences that exists and enrich the workplace.

 Take Responsibility for Racial and Cultural Awareness

 It is important to realize that as our workplaces become increasingly diverse that in the absence of continual training individuals should take some responsibility for their knowledge of other cultures. The age of technology and instant information leaves few excuses for a lack of effort to learn more about the people within shared work environments.

Make it your mission to get to know your co-workers. It is okay to express genuine interest in their culture, cuisine, and traditions. Our lives can be enriched greatly when we invite new people and new experiences into our midst. The more we learn about other cultures, the less likely we are to open our mouths and insert our feet. The closer and more familiar we are with our co-workers, the easier it is to make amends if or when we do.

 

[1] Premack, “14 Things People Think Are Fine to Say at Work — but Are Actually Racist, Sexist, or Offensive.”

[2] “How to Apologize at Work after Making a Microaggressive Comment – Business Insider.”

[3] Miranda-Wolff, “How to Talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

[4] Blackman, “What Is Diversity & Inclusion Training?”

[5] Florentine, “Diversity and Inclusion.”

Announcement: Hidden Notes Book Release

I am happy to announce I have published my first novel. This is not the first novel I have written, but it is the first I have submitted for publication. The novel is available for pre-order on Kindle, with a release date of July 23, 2018.

An excerpt from Hidden Notes

An eagle took flight above them as they climbed and seemed to hold them within his sight. They were both amazed, never having been this close to nature, and to be in the presence of a creature so magnificent, and so rare. This great bird was a symbol of America, freedom, and of America’s bravery; yet, was nearly extinct. Watching the eagle as it soared above their heads, Sarah could not keep her thoughts from going to her work on post-traumatic stress disorders. The service members she had treated over the years had begun their military careers like this eagle; brave, bold, and soaring with pride. So many of them had come home mentally and physically broken. While injuries can be mended, physical illnesses treated, even missing limbs can be replaced by prosthesis, with physical therapy to improve the quality of life; PTSD kept many as prisoners of war on domestic soil.

 

Mothers and Daughters: Conflict, Confusion, Conciliation

Mother-daughter conflict is as old as time and often the topic of many a classic as well a modern novel. Freud believed that the mother figure could very well be the root of all grown children’s neurosis[1], but it is probably much simpler than that. Mothers have the age-old desire to see their daughters achieve what they did not in their generation.

The Origins of Conflict

When a mother experiences fear or concern for a young daughter’s behavior she also remembers when she was young and how receptive she was to her own mother’s advice, talks, shouting matches[2]. Yes, there is a progression and any daughter or mother can attest that sometimes advice and talk get bypassed and shouting becomes the way of saying this simple sentence: I love you and I am so afraid of you making a mistake that could cost you your future[3].

Part of the reluctance to say these very true and meaningful words is the memory of how obstinate she was at “that age.” Even if a mother has done most everything right herself in a mother-daughter relationship, there may come a time when she projects her teenaged behaviors, thoughts, and feelings upon her daughter.

Most good mothers are so, not because they had a stellar relationship with their own mothers, but because they did not, and they are determined to have a good relationship with their daughters. The intent and pledge to do so is so strong, that when there seems to be the least threat to that relationship, that sacred alliance, the mother lashes out at whomever or whatever poses the threat. Often that may be the daughter herself who at a certain and normal age of her development wishes to assert herself as independent of her mother.

Fiction is Fact

Anyone who was a member of the cult following of the Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) remembers the enviable relationship between Lorelai and Rory. The only times there were ever disruption to their harmony was when there was a male in Rory’s life that posed a threat to not only the mother-daughter relationship, but also to the brilliant future Lorelai saw for her daughter; the one she herself did not have, because of a boy that ultimately led to teen motherhood.  Rory and Boys

The juxtaposition of their relationship is that Lorelai would not take anything for her daughter. However, her cognitive mind recognizes that had she not become a mother at sixteen her life would have been easier, if not better. This sort of cognitive dissonance is the stuff for which mother-daughter relationships are made of[4]. Mothers love their children, mothers love their daughters, but they wish so much more than motherhood for them.

Mother daughter symbolIf It Is Not Hate, It Must Be Love

When a mother and daughter come to an impasse in their relationship it is painful to them both, it may seem that they hate one another. The daughter may feel that no matter what she does, her mother hates her. The truth is that rarely do a mother and daughter actually hate one another, they simply find themselves at odds in the relationship. The daughter needs independence, and the mother is afraid to let go and allow her daughter to make mistakes[5]; mistakes that could possibly be fatal, or at least heartbreaking.

Recommendations

 There are no easy answers for any mother or daughter. However, open communication is a must. Even when it is painful. Even when there may be raised emotions and voices involved. No matter the issues, the words: I love you should be expressed often in the conversation. Even if these words are prefaced with: I am angry or I am disappointed, or especially, I am afraid. No psychologically healthy mother ever hates her daughter. She simply does not like the power that child has over her to drive her back to when she could have changed her course, and did not.

Daughters: Be Kind to Your Mothers. They Love You No Matter What You Do. Mothers, Be Kind to Your Daughters. They Love You No Matter What They Do.

 

[1] Missy Molloy, “Mother-Daughter Ambivalence According to Sigmund Freud and Chantal Akerman,” PSYART; Gainesville, 2014, N_A.

[2] Paul M Usita and Barbara C Du Bois, “Conflict Sources and Responses in Mother-Daughter Relationships: Perspectives of Adult Daughters of Aging Immigrant Women,” Journal Of Women & Aging 17, no. 1–2 (2005): 151–65.

[3] Susan J. T. Branje, “Conflict Management in Mother-Daughter Interactions in Early Adolescence,” Behaviour 145, no. 11 (2008): 1627–51.

[4] Molloy, “Mother-Daughter Ambivalence According to Sigmund Freud and Chantal Akerman.”

[5] N A Gonzales, A M Cauce, and C A Mason, “Interobserver Agreement in the Assessment of Parental Behavior and Parent-Adolescent Conflict: African American Mothers, Daughters, and Independent Observers,” Child Development 67, no. 4 (August 1996): 1483–98.

References

Branje, Susan J. T. “Conflict Management in Mother-Daughter Interactions in Early Adolescence.” Behaviour 145, no. 11 (2008): 1627–51.

Gonzales, N A, A M Cauce, and C A Mason. “Interobserver Agreement in the Assessment of Parental Behavior and Parent-Adolescent Conflict: African American Mothers, Daughters, and Independent Observers.” Child Development 67, no. 4 (August 1996): 1483–98.

Molloy, Missy. “Mother-Daughter Ambivalence According to Sigmund Freud and Chantal Akerman.” PSYART; Gainesville, 2014, N_A.

Usita, Paul M, and Barbara C Du Bois. “Conflict Sources and Responses in Mother-Daughter Relationships: Perspectives of Adult Daughters of Aging Immigrant Women.” Journal Of Women & Aging 17, no. 1–2 (2005): 151–65.

 

Resume of a Former Teacher

As the end of yet another school year approaches some teachers are taking the initiative to create their class syllabi for the upcoming school year, some are looking for other teaching opportunities, and a growing number are contemplating leaving the profession altogether. A word from the wise, the initial excitement of a career change can soon lead to disappointment and disillusionment. I found a few things out the hard way, and as a result have at least five versions of my resume that showcase the skills and experiences I have acquired as a teacher in a way that best fits the job for which I am applying.

Interview

One of the most shocking revelations for me as I began preparing myself for a career   change was that most employers – whether in corporate America or non-profit -tend to infantize teachers and minimalize what we do. I have received many proverbial pats on the head at the end of an interview. These have toughened me up and taught me a great deal. Most of us have become accustomed to this type of treatment from our administrators, but to find this is how many “on the outside” also view us was a bit troubling. Even when I have been told by people in my social circle that they admire me for being a teacher, that teachers do not make nearly enough, it is because they see us as having the most stressful baby-sitting job in America.

If you are one of the many teachers thinking of leaving the Smart Board, faculty meetings, and chronic UTIs behind, let’s take a critical look at what you really know how to do.

Management/Supervisory: Teachers manage up to 30 or more people at least three times a day, depending upon whether they teach a block or traditional schedule. That can = totals of 100+ “employees”. Teachers conduct an equal number of performance evaluations every four to six weeks, with a final performance evaluation give to each “employee” at the end of the year.

Project Management: Teachers plan and oversee large and small-scale projects designed for both group and individual deployment.

Strategic Planning: Teachers must plan strategically in order to meet overall objectives for optimum ROI (Return on Investment). Teachers recognize that if they are unsuccessful in the onboarding process of their planned initiatives, that high turn-over and loss of revenue could result.

Conflict Management: Teachers must have and exercise strong conflict management and resolution skills for not only their students, but also in regard to parents and colleagues.

Data Collection and Analysis: Teachers have the ability to collect and assess data efficiently and often at a glance using both formal and informal measurements.

Communication Skills: Teachers communicate on average with over 100 people per day using various mediums from face to face, email, text messages, and even video conferencing.

Fiduciary/Budgeting: Teachers must plan budgetary expenses to ensure the work day needs of 100 or more individuals are met for 180 days of the year.

Research and Development: Teachers must research various topics and develop appropriate vehicles for conveyance and dissemination of information.

Public Relations: Teachers recognize that they are emissaries of their institutions and that their conduct is reflective upon their industry and the institutions with which they are employed. Teachers communicate with various stake-holders and community members in order to keep all parties apprised of goals and objectives.

Diversity and Inclusion: Teachers must create workspace that is inclusive for all individuals regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender/gender identity, or political affiliations.

These are just a few of the skills and knowledge teachers possess that can be translated into employment or even business ownership outside of education. Be prepared to pitch these skills and demonstrate through analogy and example how these are relatable and translatable skills.

As a Navy veteran, I remember leaving the service and joining the civilian workforce. Employers with whom I interviewed were always impressed with my skill set, but most of all they knew that as a U.S. Military veteran, I also had discipline and character.

Teachers have the discipline to get up and go to work 190 days per year whether they or even their children are ill. When they cannot be at work, they manage their classrooms remotely, as they are required to have lessons planned for substitutes.

Teachers have the character to influence and inspire the next generation. Few people can share how a boss has influenced or inspired them, nearly every successful person can name a teacher who has.

 

 

 

 

Milestone Assessements Are Done, What Now?

Help       Just because the standardized testing we all know and love has finally come to an end, does not mean that school has. No matter what grade level you teach there is still much left to do for the remainder of the year; even for seniors. 

I told my junior students I am now focusing on getting them ready for their senior year. Their new teacher will love me for it. Besides finishing out the text book, there is no reason these students should not be getting a jump on resumes, learn how to fill out job applications, or write award-winning scholarship and college essays, the list can and does go on. 

The state and district-wide standardized tests, while they do factor into the class grade for most students, are not an accurate reflection of what students have actually learned in class. Students need to feel they have come to class every day for 180 days for a reason. Standardized tests do not make them feel that way. While the skills and foundational knowledge in class are transferable to these tests, the students are quick to recognize these test bear little resemblance to lessons taught and specific content learned daily. 

It is important that teachers not just pack it in now that these tests are over. English teachers can teach that favorite novel they just did not have time for prior to testing. Science and math teachers can pull out that STEM project they have been drooling over. History teachers can have their students work on a cumalative museum project. 

The last thing any of us want for the last two to three weeks of schools is to sit in idle boredom and have the kids with glazed over eyes texting and “liking” on their phones. Worse yet, skipping class. 

Some other ideas: 

  • Socratic Seminars
  • Create a Broadcast
  • Write and Act out a Play
  • Teacher for a Day
  • Film Critiques
  • Role Plays 
  • Create a Puzzle
  • Paint a Mobile Mural
  • Start a Fundraiser 

Do something. Your kids and your brain will thank you for it. 

Then… you can have a truly great summer!

 

Summer Vacation

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