There is a pattern

One of my colleagues cut in front of me in line. Circumstances may have made this accidental, but he must have realized he did it, afterward. If I had done it accidentally, I would have apologized. He didn’t and acted like he didn’t realize I was offended, partially because I pretended I didn’t notice it. I would ignore this behavior, but I’ve heard of two cases where his interactions with female colleagues led to bad feelings. None of these incidents were significant, but the pattern is. I will try to avoid working with him.

A student was having trouble with me as a teacher and dropped my class the first week. I found out he was making a formal complaint against another teacher. I am very glad he dropped my class. His pattern makes me leery.

I would like to get across to my students that patterns of behavior matter. If a student has many withdrawals on his record, a potential employer may wonder if he often attempts more than he can complete. A student who is routinely late will create a bad first impression immediately. I heard of a case where several new employees were required to come to an orientation meeting. One man came twenty minutes late with a Starbuck’s coffee, and was fired on the spot. I suspect he had a pattern of coming late and was never in real trouble over it.

It is easy to feel that minor bad behavior doesn’t matter when it is only seen by strangers, but there is another issue. Patterns matter in how people are perceived, but they also become habits, which can be hard to break. Students who learn to take classes casually, not paying much attention to assignments, coming late, and just putting in a minimum amount of work are obviously hurting themselves, since they won’t learn much. They are learning one thing: a pattern which will hurt them later in life.

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