Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Gift of Being a Loser - Perspective

I am a loser.  A week ago I set out on a journey to say goodbye to my mother.  As I sat in airports and boarded planes, I looked at and watched my fellow passengers.  Knowing what I was experiencing, I wondered what the others on the plane with me were carrying with them.  The loss I was experiencing provided me with a perspective that I would not normally have had with my fellow travelers.

As a traveler with emotional baggage, I put my head phones on and listened to music and watched movies rather than engage with my fellow passengers.  All the while, I wondered why my fellow travelers were making their trips.  As I traveled with a broken heart, I made sure to smile at everyone that looked at me not knowing their situation but wanting to make sure that I acknowledged their existence.  It is all about perspective and isn't it interesting when major life events significantly shift our perspective and/or remind us of the perspective we used to have.

As usual, my personal experience translates to my life as an educator.  I will ask my fellow educators to consider the following:
  • Please don't embarrass tardy students by sending them to the office
    • You do not know what his/her morning was like - did they have to get siblings ready, were they exhausted from doing homework late into the night, do his/her parents chronically run late, does he/she have negative feelings about school and walked super slowly, etc...
    • By shifting your perspective and welcoming him/her into your classroom with a smile and a sincere greeting, you may change the course of his/her day by starting it off positively.  
Do you want to "teach him/her a lesson" or build a relationship and make a connection?
  •  Please don't blame parents for not participating or caring about their child's education
    • You need to know that the vast majority of parents love their child/children even if they do not know how to show it
    • Some parents are extremely intimidated by schools because of the negative experience they had while in school
    • We all struggle with parenting and question what and how we parent.  We feel isolated, ineffective at times. 
Change the lens you use to look at parents to one of empathy and understanding that they are doing the best they can with the tools they have.  Understand that your students love and admire and worry about their parents.
  • Please support your students while they are at school, do not punish them for the environment the experience outside of school.
    • When homework is not completed respectfully ask the student why it was not completed and show empathy - here is what I really think about homework - CLICK HERE
As I stated earlier, I am a loser.  I received a SARB (Student Attendance Review Boards) letter from the district I am a Curriculum Coordinator in because my son had over 9 tardies in one trimester.  Was it his fault?  Well that is a loaded question because I could blame our morning routine on his power struggles with me (the parenting issues that EVERYONE experiences).  However, if you look at my track record I am a loser parent that makes my son adhere to my schedule and when I do not have a required time frame, he is tardy to school. (By the way, just to let you know, he has not had a tardy since I received the SARB letter in December, I have to be careful because we are on our way to court).

Perspective is such a powerful thing.  My superintendent, assistant superintendent and I (curriculum coordinator) were in our weekly meeting.  All of our kiddos go to one of the elementary schools in our district.  As we sat in the meeting, the supt. started shedding tears while telling a story of how she had felt she failed her second grade daughter as a parent.  If we "educator parents" fail our kiddos daily, weekly, monthly, etc... think for a minute about those parents who are not highly educated and the feelings they have as parents.

In closing, we need to remember that we do not know what others are experiencing at any given time.  I ask that you stop, smile, and consider the person's situation.  

So many people have aching heart, don't you want to be the person who makes their heart smile?

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