Sunday, November 13, 2016

Let's Be Thankful #KidsDeserveIt

Thanksgiving.  That time of the year when we take just a little more time to think of things we're thankful for.  As I was making a list of things I was thankful for, our students kept coming to my mind.  And how we could view so many of them as having trouble making a thankful list, but in reality, they're able to notice the "little" things so much better than us sometimes.

I was having a conversation with a student this week about her behavior.  She's a tough cookie. She's been a "project" of ours for about the last year or more.  She's got a lot of pain built up in her life, and that sometimes comes out of her in the most unfriendly ways.

As she had another episode, I pulled her into my office.  I asked her what was going on, and of course she didn't want to talk about it.  She never does.

So I tried a different approach.  We have three staff members in particular who are working or have worked a LOT with her to get her in a better place.  I told her how much her teacher loves her, I told
her how much our assistant principal loves her, and then I told her how much her teacher from last year loves her.  Because truly, they care about her so much.

Then I told her, that the way she treats those who care about her, hurts them.  And that some people can only take so much of someone being hateful to them before they throw their hands up.  Before they walk away.  Before they say "I've tried everything and I just don't know what else to do".  Before they say, "Does she hate me??" We've all felt that way before about a student or loved one.

And for the first time ever, I saw something different in her.  She looked at me and said "I don't hate them.  I love them a lot too."

What?!?  I had never heard her say that about anyone.

And she sat with me in my office and she cried, with me.  We talked about how our emotions can sometimes get the better of us.  It happens to all of us at one point or another.

But we can't let our emotions control us all the time.  We can't let our hurt, our anger, our pain, push others away just because we choose to lash out at those we love.

We talked about how it's ok to be angry.  It's ok to struggle with work or friends.  It's ok to want to cry.

But we have to verbalize those emotions.  We have to ask for help.  We have to show that we're trying to change and be better.

Did I truly get through to this child? Who really knows.  Only time will tell. And I know she'll lash out in anger/pain again.  But maybe, just maybe she can see a little more that we care about her so very much.  That we want to help her, to be a part of her life, to walk with her down this road.

I tie that into Thanksgiving because I am so thankful to have the job I do.  I am so thankful to work with kids that come to us broken in a thousand pieces, hoping to find someone with a little glue and time to help them put the pieces back together again.

Teaching is a special profession.  It's not something I feel I have to do, but I get to do.

And I am so incredibly thankful to work alongside people like YOU every day.  People who pour their heart, soul, time, blood, sweat, tears into these kids.

People who are more than just educators.  People who are life changers.

Our job isn't easy.  Our job doesn't always feel rewarding every day.  But I am thankful you walk alongside me with these kids.  That you jump off the ledge with me.  That you take risks, love deeply, and keep pushing yourselves.

I am thankful for our parents we have how are doing the best they possibly can to raise their children.  I am thankful for our district administration who makes decisions they feel are for the betterment of kids.  I am thankful for our own personal families who deal with our tears and time away from home because we love what we do.

Thank YOU for what you do.  There is no way I could ever express how needed and appreciated you are.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Some Have No One Else #KidsDeserveIt

This week I was reminded of the simple fact that we have children at our school that have no one else.  That we're they're only one. The only one who encourages them, celebrates them, believes in them.

I have students come into my office every day for "Hats Off" calls to celebrate them.  Friday something different happened.  I had called home to celebrate a third grader who struggles with school quite often.  He was so excited about his "Hats Off" card.  As we called mom (and had her on speaker phone), I told her the great reasons why I was calling home and how proud of her son we were.  I then asked her, as I do every parent, if she'd like to talk to her son to celebrate him too.  Her response? "No, that's ok. I can talk to him later if I feel like it".

Wow.  Did I mention she was on speaker phone? And her son heard the whole exchange.  I watched this little boy lose all sense of excitement and instead put his head down.  It broke my heart.

But it was a reminder.  A reminder that our kids come from homes where they aren't always taught of their worth and value. And socioeconomic status doesn't always play a part.  These kids come from home full of monetary wealth and homes devoid of any material things.  Kids are kids.

It was a reminder for me to hug our kiddos a little tighter.  To give a few more high fives.  To dance a little more.  To laugh as much as possible.  To celebrate every single moment.  For we may be the only way celebrating that challenge and I want to be the pebble in that child's pond of life where ripples are felt for years to come.

Remember this next week, as we get closer and closer to the Holidays, that the holidays aren't happy experiences for all of our students.  Some dread those days where they have to be at home instead of being at school.  And because of that fear and dread they will act out in different ways.

We have to have a big enough heart to love them anyway.  To forgive them time and time again.  To wrap them in compassion, patience, and honesty.  We have to show them we aren't going anywhere, we aren't going to abandon or give up on them, and we love them so very much.  Because we might be the only one.