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Stop. Listen. Lean in

On the eve of my first day of student teaching, my supervising teacher called me with some daunting news. Mrs. Davis had the flu and would not return the work for an entire week. Nevertheless, she had already derived a strategy for my first week of student teaching. After deliberating with the administrator, Mrs. Davis convinced the principal that I would be a better choice in the classroom than any substitute teacher. The principal acquiesced to her decision.

The next part of the conversation was critical. Mrs. Davis provided instructions for day one and the entire week. The first thing she conveyed to me was “do what I tell you to do”. My response was, “Yes ma’am”. Mrs. Davis instructed me to do the following:

1) Arrive to work 15 minutes early. As a matter of fact, I was never to arrive to work after her. I can recall it still being dark outside when I arrived to work. I’d stand by the exterior classroom door on the second level of the building at Capitol Senior High School whether it was rain, sunshine, sleet, or snow. And yes, we did get snow in Baton Rouge that year;

2) Follow Mrs. B. Davis’s lesson plans. My homework was to do every assignment that the students were required to do prior to my teaching the content. She said, “If you can’t do the work, you can’t teach it”;

3) Mrs. Davis provided classroom management strategies and logistics for keeping an orderly learning environment. In addition, I was instructed to stay away from the teacher’s lounge to avoid gossip and politics. Mrs. Davis never hung out in the teacher’s lounge and neither did I. During my first week of student teaching without my supervisor, I had one classroom discipline problem. A young lady called me a “b&*ch” for no apparent reason. Everyone was as shocked as I was but she was dismissed immediately. I completed a disciplinary form and the matter was handled with Mrs. Davis, the school principal, and myself when Mrs. Davis returned. Otherwise, my first week of student teaching was a smooth transition;

4) I was further instructed me to retrieve the lesson plans and keys to her classroom. I was responsible for calling her daily after I returned home from my second job at a local university. We communicated every day during my first week of student teaching and there was always daily feedback thereafter. My student teaching experience was a success because I learned how to listen and follow instructions.

Sometimes, life can be difficult because we refuse to listen and follow instructions from someone who has already mastered what we’re attempting to do. During my student teaching experience, I never challenged my supervising teacher. I leaned in and learned everything that she was downloading to me. I learned through observation, questioning, and practical application. I could not be where I am today if I had not submitted myself to the authority, instructions, and wisdom of Mrs. B. Davis.

I, Dr. Regina M. Daigre, am successful because I know how to stop, listen, and lean in.

My question for you today is: Are you struggling in your career because you have difficulty listening and following instructions from those who are in authority over you? If so, why?

Here are a few tips and strategies to help you on your journey to a successful career:

1. Stop. Stop second guessing those who are more experienced than you. There are benefits to gleaning off someone else’s expertise.

2. Listen. Learn to listen to the instructions and demonstrate that you have listened by following the instructions without questioning. This does not mean that you’re not being heard or you’re kowtowing, but there are times when a leader does not have time to explain why they are doing what they’re doing. When you’re in a critical situation, learn to stop, listen, and follow instructions.

3. Lean in. Learn the power of “leaning in” because you can be more successful doing things that are difficult, unpleasant, or things that you’re uncertain about. Learn the power of leaning in to the vast knowledge of your superiors rather they are a team lead, supervisor, manager, principal, or CEO. Oftentimes, the visionary can see things that you don’t see. They are there to alleviate the harm of risk and uncertainty.


Can you do more of to improve your personal and/or professional lives? Successful people understand the power of stopping, listening, and leaning in.

If this message resonates with you, TYPE below I, (your name) am successful because I know how to stop, listen, and lean.


~Dr. Regina M. Daigre

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