Sorry I’m Late

Mrs Haley’s fifth grade class decided to pull a stunt on her.

At morning recess Little Johnny, the class clown, got everyone to agree to a prank on Mrs Haley.  At exactly 11:00 am when the class was in full session all the students in the class would take their math book and drop it on the floor.  Little Johnny thought it would scare the daylights of Mrs Haley and disrupt the class and destroy the lesson.

The students returned to their seats at the end of the break.  At exactly 11:00am Mrs.Haley was writing an equation on the whiteboard with her back to the class.  Suddenly a crash shook the room as all the books hit the floor at exactly the same moment.

Mrs. Haley turned around, noticed the books on the floor and put her pen down. She walked over to her desk, picked up her math book, slammed it down on the floor and said, “Sorry I’m late!” Then she went back to the board and continued the lesson.

Mrs. Haley didn’t get upset. The lesson didn’t get sidetracked. Everything continued without a glitch and Little Johnny’s jig was hijacked.

I call this a Pattern Interrupt. Mrs Haley could have stopped the lesson, made a big fuss and the students would have gotten exactly what they wanted.  Instead Mrs Haley absolutely changed the pattern the students had come to expect.

A pattern interrupt is just that, it is interrupting the normal pattern in a relationship.

Don’t do what is expected. Do something different.

This tends to shock the other person out of the habit that has gotten locked in over time. Pattern interrupts allow for new behaviors to emerge from old situations.

Here are two examples:

  • Do you tend to get into the same argument with a spouse?  The next time it kicks in, interrupt the old pattern. Do something or say something completely differently. If your partner is used to you raising your voice, lower it. If you usually talk fast, slow down. If you usually get upset, pause and speak quietly.
  • If a student in the class tends to push your buttons and you’ve gotten into the habit of reacting, stop. Be still. Don’t do what you’ve always done. Interrupt the pattern by doing something totally unexpected. Be intentional instead of reactive!

Try a pattern interrupt with your class, you might be shocked and pleased with the results.

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