A Lesson From Lyla: The Benefit Of the Doubt

How Giving The “Benefit Of The Doubt” Can Save Your Classroom Relationships

When my daughter was just about two years old, we visited a local juice place for a mommy-daughter date. The Juice Jar is a super cozy local joint – vegan foods, fresh squeezed juices, fruit and veggie smoothies, you know! The tables are made from rustic old doors, and the whole vibe is just trendy but comfy, reusable and green. It’s a neat place.

Anyway, while we were waiting for our smoothie, we took a seat on the comfy couch. In front of us, there was a coffee table with some magazines, a vase with some flowers, and a small pot full of puzzle pieces. A cute storage idea that definitely fit the theme of the place.

Lyla, however, reached over for the pot, and before I could stop her, dumped ALL the puzzle pieces all over the floor. I’ll admit – my initial reaction was annoyance and frustration. Why did she just do that!? Looking back, it’s obviously not a big deal, but at the time, I was NOT happy about having to clean it all up.  But before I even had a chance to respond to the situation (and respond badly, in all likelihood), Lyla said, “Water in there.”

I stopped. All of a sudden, I realized WHY she had dumped the puzzle pieces. In her mind, puzzle pieces do not belong in pots… water goes in pots. She was simply making room for the water.

Instead of responding with annoyance, I laughed and told her, “Yes, sometimes we put water in pots. But this pot is for puzzle pieces.”

And that was that.


What did I learn from this encounter?

I realized that I may not understand someone’s actions. They may have a reason for doing what they do… and when I react from assumptions, I may never get to understand that reason. Moreover, my reaction could damage a relationship.

Whether it’s my own kids or the students in my classroom, we can choose to give others the benefit of the doubt. They may have a reason – a perfectly logical reason – for acting the way they do. And even if it isn’t logical, it may make sense to them. Reacting with frustration, anger, or annoyance isn’t going to help the situation. Understanding and offering the benefit of the doubt may get you farther.


Where can you learn more about designing an NGSS-aligned classroom and curriculum?

The Science Teacher Tribe Course + Community professional development program is designed to walk you through developing instructional sequences that carry students from exploration to learning.  If you’re looking for more support as you implement the NGSS, let us walk you through creating those cohesive units that tie your standards together, assessments that evaluate students on all three dimensions, and carefully crafted instruction that fosters student discovery of the content. End the course with a completely self-designed NGSS-aligned unit while earning a certificate of completion from iExploreScience!

If you’re not ready to enroll in our full professional development program, check out the free mini-course – Intro To The NGSS – to get a handle on the basics.  Discover what the NGSS REALLY looks like in the classroom – from changes to your content and instruction all the way down to your assessments. 

Science Teacher Tribe: Convenient and Comprehensive NGSS Professional Development

If you are anything like me, transitioning to the NGSS can be totally overwhelming.  Teaching is hard as it is – you’re busy keeping up with the “normal” lessons day to day and week to week, plus grading, meetings, IEPs, behavior management, so on and so forth. I get it. Who has the time or energy to figure out all that goes into these new standards and their impact on your curriculum, let alone what it means for your teaching!

Well, I’m happy to say there IS an easier way. You don’t HAVE to muddle through everything, and you definitely don’t have to do it alone!

Imagine feeling confident that the curriculum you designed is actually aligned to the standards, that your units incorporate the three dimensions and engage your students in Science and Engineering Practices that matter. Imagine classes full of students who take ownership of their learning, who thrive on “figuring it out” and “puzzling through it” and come to learn the content through discovery.  Imagine days where you DON’T have to stand in front of the class, battling for their attention, delivering boring lectures and notes, printing worksheet after worksheet, and wasting tons of time on review and reteaching — only to have your students fail to perform anyway. Imagine learning that sticks, and engaging activities (that you may already be doing!) but that lead to true understanding.  It’s not magic, and it doesn’t necessarily come easy, but it IS possible.  

Learn more at the Science Teacher Tribe Course and Community.