This may not seem like an educational blog post at first, but bear with me. Though educators are whom I originally intended this post for, it is not limited to them. I think the implications will become clear as you dig in deeper into the post, since that is where I swing the hammer of obviousness…hard. But don’t duck the swings. Even though you will see it coming in plenty of time to duck, let it hit. Absorb the blow. Find the beauty.
So Close No Matter How Far
There are many things in our daily lives that cause discomfort. These are the things we complain about, avoid, can trigger anxiety, and sometimes fear. According to my family, the list may include: wearing glasses, cold weather, excessive heat, certain people, strangers, crowds, deadlines, missed TV shows, public speaking, being late for work or an appointment, car problems, money problems, physical ailments, deleted assignments or work, cell phone separation, other drivers, and my personal favorite from my daughter, lack of affection from the cat. Your personal list may share commonalities with this list, and undoubtedly there will be differences but the purpose of this post is not to fix all of your problems, nor is it a list of tips and tricks to help you survive daily trials. That would be above my pay grade. However, you can work towards a mindset shift so that you can discover the pin points of light in the darkness of those moments.
Couldn’t Be Much More From the Heart
The beauty of sparkling frost on a cold morning may be easier to find than the beauty in a driver cutting you off or pulling out in front of you. There may not seem to be much beauty in working on something for a few hours only to have a simple mistaken click of the mouse wipe it out and another send it to the eternal destination of lost digital work. And in the classroom, how can we find beauty in the student who constantly disrupts, derails, and distracts from our activity, discussion, and content? Down the hall is the teacher who will find a way to make you uncomfortable. Where’s the stinking beauty in that? It’s hammer time. Remember, don’t duck the blows. Absorb them.
Forever Trusting Who We Are
It’s not a new concept really. In fact, the business world has proven that it works in different companies everywhere like Google and Pike Place Fish Market and yet we educators still grapple with it. A teacher I have worked with grew angry at the Pike Place model as it applies in education. “Fun? So I have to make it fun? That doesn’t prepare students for real life! Life is hard! It’s work! It’s not fun!” Ask any employee of any fish market if what they do on a daily basis isn’t work. Ask them how easy their job is. How in the world can they have fun AND be productive? It’s a mindset, and it is totally within your grasp to tap into that power. Find the beauty and the fun will come.
And Nothing Else Matters
Decide tomorrow that you will wear rose colored glasses to work. Sure, you can take that literally and be the talk of your building (one way or another) or just make the shift in your thinking, your outlook on life, and see the beauty. Those glasses are my super power and my curse. I see the good and beauty everywhere, so the bad can sometimes take me by surprise. But, I’m okay with that. I am. I am willing to sacrifice a few moments of broken trust and disappointment in mankind, the for the overwhelming moments of joy and happiness that I can experience, and more importantly, share with others. There’s always the risk of frostbite, but the sparkle and beauty of those moments can provide the warmth you need to power through the cold.
Never Opened Myself This Way
Some students get so much negative attention that if you merely say their name, the battle begins. Be mindful of how you speak to others. Negatives need to be outweighed by positives. Find something. Observe that student or coworker. Know something personal to compliment or just start with their outward appearance. Find a nice haircut, a funny shirt, cute boots, nice shade of blue on the unwashed shirt, a beat up old leather hat passed down from Grandpa, or a behavior you can see that is less negative than others.
Life Is Ours, We Live It Our Way
Look. Assume positive intentions. Know your students. A kindergartner may show up in your classroom without his or her backpack. Yes, that could set you off as a blatant display of irresponsibility that you have struggled to teach your class. That is a negative assumption, and while you may be right, it doesn’t give you the right to ruin a child’s day. That negativity affects us to when we wild it without thought or care. That child may come from a drug dominated home where his parents shoved him out of the door as the bus arrived. That child may have stood on the porch in fear, tears streaming, knowing that the backpack was on the other side of the door, knowing you, his teacher, will be upset if he shows up without it. The bus driver may have watched the child knock on the door, plead for the parents to open it up but to no avail. No backpack. Just tears and fears.
All These Words I Don’t Just Say
My rose colored glasses can work for anyone. I can feel the heads shaking NO from my living room here in Missouri on a beautiful chilly fall evening. I dare you to put the glasses on for tomorrow, and try them for one entire day. Shift your thinking from negative to positive. See the student without a backpack, pencil, book, whatever, and shine a light into their darkness. Meet the need. Find a positive to say, and say it with a smile.
And Nothing Else Matters
The glasses work for coworkers too, but you need to remember that it is no guarantee that they will become happy people. You can’t change them, necessarily, but you can change yourself. Looking for the positives, focusing on the light, helps open the door for the fun to creep inside your life, your classroom, and your sphere of influence. Once the light of positivity and kindness fills you, pour it out on others. It will feel awkward and weird at first, but work at it. Make yourself uncomfortable. Our students and coworkers are worth the effort. You are worth the effort. Consider this as well as you get ready for school and put on my rose colored glasses. The stakes are high. You may be right about the kid who shows up without his backpack, but you’ve lost nothing by spreading kindness, and you have everything to gain.
Now the final words for you to ponder from the song, Nothing Else Matters, by Metallica that I used as the subheadings:
Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters
Song was adapted here, for complete lyrics, you can find them here: Nothing Else Matters.