Instead of hurrying outside to play, one child paused to watch beautifully slow drips of water dance down the window. I couldn’t help but join in the wonder. I claim to teach children, in truth I have finally shed my blinders enough to see my teachers are in front of me.
As a teacher, my path crosses with people experiencing deep pain. Sometimes it comes across as withdrawn kids, screaming parents or irate staff.
Whenever I am privy to the story behind the hiding, anger or screams it often makes immediate sense and my compassion kicks in.
Everyone has a back story. Some of those stories we wear on our faces or carry in our voices. Others are more hidden.
What can we do to foster compassion for the bearers of stories without knowing the narration?
Fresh out of college I was convinced there was only one right way of teaching children how to read. My perceptions were shattered when I quickly realized that many millions of people have learned how to read English without that specific method.
There are countless ways to live, (read) and interact in the world. Let us challenge each other to step out of the framework of our own perceptions. In the least, we may just learn compassion. As a bonus, we might learn a new “right way”.
For better or worse I am a solution oriented person. As a special education teacher and educational consultant, this is usually a good thing. However, it has taken my wife 13 years to train me to just listen to her problem instead of trying to solve it.
Right now our twins are no longer sleeping through the night, there is discord in my extended family, underlying conflict at work and a national political scene that only belongs in nightmares. My mind wants to solve it all. It can’t.
What a humbling process it is to step back and listen to the present moment, holding space for the pain and solutions yet to come.
There are kids doing really well, some that are struggling and others who have blown us away by their progress. Today was a day filled with honest conversations AKA, parent teacher conferences. Some were much harder than others but all were critical to supporting growth.
How do we make space for honest conversations in all realms of life?
I choose hope. Not blindly, not irrationally, not without additional action. I choose hope because that is what I can give my family, my students, my nation and the world every single day. I choose hope because the day after the election, the one day in recent memory where I could find absolutely none, hope was given back to me in the gentle caress of a six-year-old with autism. That dreadful morning, she took my face in her hands and looked deeply into me with her sparkling eyes. At that moment she saw the hope in my heart that seemed so impossibly buried. Not only will this child have a voice, so will all who go unheard. I. Choose. Hope.
I battled the copier, for more than four hours. I tweaked settings and sources, called the help line and pleaded with colleagues for assistance. It was only when I surrendered the idea of instant results, that this machine began to release a few copies at a time. In the end my project was complete and I learned that letting go of instant results allows space for completion in its own time.