Being a parent has to be THE most challenging job in the world. The worry that this decision is the right one, that the battles you choose are the ones worth fighting, and that being the “Mean Mom” will one day be understood as “I love you more than you know”.
But every now and then, there are those stolen moments in time that allow us to see that no matter what, the person before you, contains a little piece of you.
I’m both blissfully thankful and immensely regretful that my two littles have my passion and compassion as their little pieces of me. I’m so thankful that my passion for life has passed to them and therefore allows them to want to live experiences and take in all they can. But in turn, I am so regretful that their compassion, especially in my son, causes him to cry “tears of joy” when we are alone and in one of those great bear hugs. Society won’t understand that his compassion for others is such a strength; that he loves life, and those in his life deeply.
We can’t control the pieces that pass from one generation to another. But, I suppose that in my journey as a parent, I should embrace the fact that there are so many less desireable pieces of me my children could have been given than to be caring and loving to those around them. Instead, I hope I can help them nurture, grow, and understand their piece of me.
If you were to reflect upon your day today, would you be able to say with conviction that you were deeply connected in some way, to some one, to some thing that made a difference? Did you allow someone to know you care deeply about them, their work, their struggles, their successes?
A few moments in time to listen with empathy, focus on a team project, or praise the work of someone can often be the connection that makes the difference in a day that is described as “just ok” and “fabulous“.
If you weren’t connected today, why not and how will you work to connect for a better tomorrow? How will you help construct “fabulous” for those around you?
You know me, I walk into your classroom each morning, hair nor teeth brushed, same dirty clothes I wore the day before, homework incomplete, tired and hungry. Every morning I come in, hoping you will smile, ask me about my night, maybe even give me a hug. I’m empty, Teacher, how will you fill my tank?
So much of the work in education extends beyond the lesson plans and grades. We work diligently to prepare for our days with students by researching the latest and greatest activities to engage them in learning. We plan tirelessly to meet the ever present curriculum standards so we are preparing our children to do well on THE TEST. We chunk and cluster material so we can best meet the needs of our learners across the spectrum. But, in spite of our work, if our students enter with an empty tank, how do we respond? Shouldn’t filling their tanks with kindness, love, and compassion be our first priority?
Tomorrow, will you just teach or will you work to fill their tanks?
There are many things I learned being a principal for ten years. Many lessons though, I thought at the time, were related to specific situations and not indicators of my holistic beliefs on teaching, learning, children, or the world in general.
With that said, during my time in the schoolhouse, I had some terrible experiences; telling a child their parent was dead, dealing with rape, loss of a student, having to bear witness to educational malpractice because you can’t just “fire” poor teachers…just to name a few.
With each of these experiences, emotion was central to my ability to handle them with the care needed. For so many years, even still today, I tried to hide the fact that I’m passionate, deeply passionate about life. I cry when bad things happen to children, I become enraged when I see a teacher mistreating a student, I smile deeply when a child hugs me tightly and said I miss you, Dr. Nixon. It’s who I am.
That passion, is my truth. My ability to blend mind and soul everyday led me to be able to put words to one aspect of what I believe is the key to great schools. We have to have teachers and leaders who don’t just LIKE children, but LOVE and care for children. They understand that no learning takes place until children feel safe, secure, and cared for; that kindness and compassion are traits you can’t see on a resume but shine brightly in the classroom of the best teachers.
I see care and love for children as allowing them to question the world (Daddy where’s your lap go when you stand up? Via @jonharper70bd) without a second thought, allowing them to create and understand the world in the ways they learn best, to understand that helping a child to grow is not an easy task but one worthy of the effort required each and every day, that sometimes doing what is right means breaking ALL the rules.
My current role in education has me behind a desk and not in direct contact with children. However, my passion continues to run deep. For me, the more folks who embrace education as a PERSONAL calling as well as a profession and not just a job, the more we will see our children grow and their minds expand with limitless knowledge. But maybe that’s just me….
After an especially challenging and emotional week, I found this in my Twitter feed.
The message within made me smile. Not only should we smile, and help others to find their smile, but acknowledging the power of touch and personal connection as REAL factors that affect us every day.
I won’t say I’m the best at giving, but can definitely say with conviction that emotional energy, the kind that is found in a kind and caring statement, a friendly hug, an empathetic smile, an acknowledgement that I add value to a situation or someone’s life IS one of the most powerful forces affecting how I approach each day.
Days that are absent of this are difficult. Simply put. I understand too that giving to others is fulfilling in itself. My emotional cup though, still requires a lot of input before I can easily provide for others.
I accept your challenge Mr. Harper and hope sharing this will inspire others to do the same. How will YOU make SMILES happen in your world today?