Friday, January 6, 2017

Be Kind

I cannot express enough how important it is for educators to be kind.

Kind to our students.

Kind to our parent community.

Kind to each other.

Sometimes, this is not easy.

We are confronted with the daily task for somehow preparing our students to become life-long learners despite the troubles they've momentarily left behind at home. We create engaging lessons plans with the best intentions. We build relationships with our students that show our compassion and our concern for their well-being. And yet sometimes everything falls apart.

Sometimes, it is our fault for the errant, sarcastic comment that we shouldn't have made to our students.

Sometimes, it is out of our control due to student issues from the weekend.

Sometimes, it is an interruption from an helicoptering parent who falsely believes that their student actually did turn in their 7 missing assignments and wants to know why PowerSchool isn't immediately updated by the classroom teacher.

Sometimes, the magic just doesn't happen.

There is an expectation that educators will sacrifice our evenings and weekends to provide just a bit more support and feedback for our students and the school community. Close to half of our teaching staff had spent more than just a few nights out at various school events prior to the past holiday break, not only to support our kids but also each other. Our front office spent much of that same week preparing for staff holiday lunch. The effort by so many of our staff members during one of the busiest weeks of the year was not only noticeable but significantly appreciated by all involved.

It is during these moments where we have so little left to give where educators somehow find a bit more within ourselves to make a bit of magic happen for others. It all comes back to being kind.

One of our students spent most of the first two weeks of December with dilapidated shoes. Finally, just before the holiday break, this student showed up with "new" shoes. Our front office spoke with the student to talk about their new shoes. The student complained how tight these shoes were on their toes. I reached down and felt their toe pushing up against the end of the shoe. He had already outgrown these shoes. Our front office staff agreed; this was a great opportunity to be kind.

Just before break, his new shoes arrived.

This student had been called into the office. They assumed that they were in trouble for what they said "could have been a lot of reasons". Instead, we handed them their new shoes. Their face lit up.

This student loved the shoes and yet did not want to accept them. They actively refused to accept the gift. We heard no less than ten different reasons why they couldn't accept the gift. Perhaps, they didn't know how to accept a gift. Maybe they don't get gifts that often.

The student was a bit of a mess during our conversation. I almost had to force the shoes upon them, carefully making sure they truly wanted them. It was eventually very clear they did. The reluctance we saw was centered around how challenged they were with someone being kind.

And that's why we always need to refocus on being kind.

Kind to our students.

Kind to our parent community.

Kind to each other.

Especially when it isn't easy to do.

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