The "label" on the door was the handle, which would suggest that I pull it. Who would push a handle? If you want something to function by being pushed, you need to put a plate on it, not a handle. Pianists know this because piano keys, which need to be activated by pushing or dropping weight into them, do not have handles! They are, by design, meant to be pushed, as any two year old can intuitively figure out.
Labeling something (or someone?) causes you to interact with that thing (or person) in a certain manner. Sometimes, that manner is effective. Often, however, if the label is inaccurate or tainted by the labeler's own perception, interaction is ineffective. Okay, I can hear you asking, "So what does this have to do with being an Empowered Music Teacher?" Fair enough.
How often have you labeled a student? Shy, stubborn, defiant, talented, not-talented, rhythmically challenged, belligerent, obstinate, quiet, difficult, lazy, rude Imagine having to sub for a teacher and that teacher telling you the student was defiant and rude. How would that effect your interaction with the student? What feelings would you bring to the lesson? Would you go in gentle and compassionate or might you be more ready for resistance?
blur the simple observation of behaviors and the opportunity to
respond without some "color on your glasses."
Here's an exercise to play with. On your next teaching day, simply observe behaviors and report them to your brain, without labeling them. Behaviors are simply ways a person meets their needs. If a student doesn't want to try the fingering your suggest, don't label him or her stubborn. If a student wants to try their own dynamics instead of the composers or editors, don't label him defiant or even on the positive side, creative. Just see the behavior. Start to recognize when you are labeling a student and the feelings these labels create in you the teacher. Often the feelings labels create, then have a domino effect in causing us to act in a "knee-jerk" manner...a conditioned response. Observe, observe and observe. Gather data about the student, instead of making judgements. Behaviors provide you information and data. The data will assist you in creating the path of least resistance, which is always the least stressful for your students...and for you.