Why would someone give everything they have to another person? All of their love, all of their belief, all of their time, energy, effort and strength............Why would someone give their life to another?
The answer is simple......because the person they are giving all this to is that important to them, and to the world.
In education, "that person" is the student. If that student was the teacher's own child, there's no doubt that as that child's parent, everything would be given to their full development. The love of a parent for their child is enormous and never-ending.
But even if a student isn't the teacher's own child, they are somebody's child. They are loved and believed in and the most precious treasure in the world to somebody else. And doesn't that make them deserving of all of you and your best treatment of them? If you're a doctor treating a patient who isn't your own child shouldn't you treat them with the same love and effectiveness as if they were?
And if a student's parent(s) has forgotten how precious their child is, shouldn't you remember it for them, and treat and develop their child so well they do things so incredible and fantastic that it wakes up and reminds their parents how truly capable and special their child really is?
This isn't easy to do of course, and the reason why it's rarely done, because it's not easy and takes an enormous amount out of a person to even try to do, let alone do correctly (I just noticed I italicized the words "not", "even" and "try", which put together is "not even try") . These teachers not even trying are good people, very loving people, but very tired and worn out.
Add parents blaming you as the cause for their child's lack of success and you begin to wonder why you're even trying.....and once that thought is asked enough times it begins to take root, and eventually does grow into not even trying to truly educate students more than just telling them how to solve and memorize problems to prepare them to pass a test.
At least everybody looks good.
The only problem is that a human filled with knowledge is no more impressive or valuable than a laptop computer with access to the internet.....I have one for $300. There is no way I can let anyone leave me being worth no more than a few hundred bucks. I don't care how good I look.
Educating someone in the real sense of the word, getting them to think for themselves and teaching them how to solve problems on their own that they haven't been "taught", or told, how to do, to be able to deal with and overcome failure so it's never more than temporary.......this is worlds more difficult and challenging than teaching someone how to memorize knowledge to get an A on a test.
And it requires you to create what's not yet there; new worlds of possibility for yourself and others, literally changing the history of those involved.
(The power of the parent to help or hurt their child's education is so great there's more on this to come.....Like having the parents' permission to kick the desk out of the way.)
I went to Sofia's ballet and tap practices yesterday (her mother has taken over payments). As we both sat there watching this beautiful little girl we created out of love.....beauty and love found its way from my worn-out heart to my whimsical head:
We should strive to develop our inner beauty, not to attract another or convince the world of our beauty, but to convince the world of its own.
The beauty of watching children at play is seeing spirit at play. As adults we need to ask ourselves, "Are our own spirits at play?"
We must find our own music, or at least be convinced that we DO have music to play. And it's not what we think the world is telling us we should be playing. It's playfully listening to our own internal rhythms and letting them play within.......to the right people and the ones who need it, our music will sound like a symphony.....and it will be beautiful.
Every moment deserves to be appreciated.....felt.....with 100% of yourself dedicated and committed to this moment.
There's more (small notepad full that Sofia's mom gave me with a grin after watching me fill up both sides of a scrap piece of paper)....but I have to get back to recording and analyzing student data for today's lesson plans. I know it's an insane pace for an already overwhelmed teacher to put themselves through, but for what it's doing to the minds and spirits of these students it's worth it.
The reading class has gone from 4 A's and 14 Failures on the first test to 20 A's and 1 Failure on the latest (and this student has gone from a 23% to a 53%).
Math class has seen an 18% growth rate in average student performance and science, those poor kids in science.......they are going through such an assault on their brains having to demonstrate true understanding and ability that EVERY single one has had their grades drop to F's.........and are now just beginning to come out of this temporary failure.....but much smarter and with hearts beating with deeper beliefs in themselves than they ever had to have.
(It's easy to believe you're smart when you're getting A's.....Can you have the courage to believe in yourself when you're failing?)
Why anyone wants to be in my class I really don't know. It is a lot of fun, but it's brutal. You CAN grow bigger than your obstacles, and by God, Buddha, Allah and YOURSELF, you WILL!
***By the way, Sofia told me yesterday morning that parents were allowed to watch that afternoon's practice and asked me to come. I told her I had a full afternoon scheduled but I would move things around so I could make the time to be there. She said, "I like when you make the time Daddy."
Life is not confusing, just difficult. What's important is making the time for what's important.
Had I not done this I wouldn't have had this experience that led to these thoughts and feelings.
But how do you find the time to make time when life is already full and you're already exhausted? You can't always keep adding one more thing.
Yes, but these are all thoughts of what you can't do. Replace them with thoughts of what you CAN do. You CAN quiet yourself and get rid of pointless thoughts and emotions like stress, worry, doubt, fear and how tired you are. It doesn't matter if they're all true, it's not helping by focusing and hanging onto them.........and this "truth" can be only temporary by creating a new truth for yourself.
I hadn't gone to bed before 4 the past two mornings. I was so truly tired that I started to fall asleep within 5 minutes of watching her class warm up. I emptied my head of thoughts of how tired I was and replaced them with appreciation of seeing the inner beauty radiating out from my daughter.
Before I knew it I was so re-energized at Sofia's practice that I was feeling thoughts that my head was telling me, "Write that down!"
(I do the same thing at school during breaks by visiting other classes (like Mrs. Iiames, Sofia's 1st grade teacher last year, and her neighbor Ms. Pollard.) Sometimes I just stand outside their doors and let the love and playful spirits I see radiating from their classes come into me.)
To other parents I must have looked as if I had an abundance of energy.....which I guess I did after spending 2-3 minutes focusing on the beauty right in front of me v the tiredness I felt physically. My spirit had taken over.....proving that physical beauty and physical strength is nothing compared to who we really are on the deeper sub-atomic levels of our thoughts and emotions.......
This is our consciousness entering the dense matter of our cells and molecules - or what we call spirit.
And spirit is what allows us to find the love to believe more and the energy to be more.........
And to hear your little girl giggle in ballet class.
QUOTES ON GROWTH / BECOMING MORE (ALIVE)
We only have two rules in this class:
1. Dream Big and 2. Do Big
We ALL follow these rules and we ALL Become Bigger than we’ve EVER been!
And we do this with the first quote.
“Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”
"Yes!", replies the villain.
"Love is never a mistake. I'll tell you what a mistake is", says Sofia as she climbs into my lap. "Killing love is a mistake."
And there you have it, from the wisdom of a seven-year-old.
INKOM, Idaho – A bus carrying a celebrated Utah high school band swerved off an Idaho interstate and crashed on its side, killing an instructor and injuring some students, police and a school official said.
BAGUIO, Philippines – American military helicopters ferried tons of aid Sunday to a northern Philippine mountain region facing shortages of food, gasoline and coffins after back-to-back typhoons killed more than 600 in the country.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – At least 19 people died in the standoff, including three captives and eight of the militants, who wore army fatigues in the audacious assault......The attack on the nerve center of the army, Pakistan's most powerful institution, showed the continued strength of insurgents allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban despite military operations and U.S. missile strikes that have battered their ranks. It was the third major attack in Pakistan in a week.
The teacher who died did so trying to save her students and was thrown from the bus. This woke me up because I know I would do the same, doing whatever it took to keep my students alive, inside and out. A life for a life. Life has to be given for LIFE, not things (cars, homes, others' approval, etc).
From my experience life tests you on your beliefs. So in case "this day" is the last with my students, why not give them all of me? All my belief in them, all my hope and courage that THEY CAN overcome their obstacles and face their fears? All of my best teaching and observing all the teachers around me for ideas on how I can be even better?
If I hold back so will my students. And we already have a world with too many people holding back, hurting and hating, either giving up or lashing out from the hopelessness they feel.
The Pakistan story really bothered me because it tells of a bad situation getting worse. This flooding day-after-day of bad news makes already frightened and insecure people feel only more frightened and insecure.
What if there was a flooding day-after-day of sad and terrible situations becoming good? Of the good getting better? And of the great becoming miraculous? What would news of this world do to world of the human spirit?
Because I'm such a spirited fighter, instead of allowing myself to drown in the barrage of never-ending bad news or deal with it by becoming detached and uncaring, I'm rejuvenated to post even more positive stories of life being created, giving anyone who wants it the opportunity to read something good first thing in the morning, pass it on to someone they think could use or appreciate it (especially teachers and parents), then go about their day feeling good and capable of changing something that didn't go well yesterday.
This can be a thread of support between friends, a life preserver for someone who feels like they're drowning, or a tsunami wave uplifting their spirit and crashing down upon the things that stopped them the day before, perhaps wiping them away for good this time.
My entire reading class did this each day for the past 30 days. On September 4th of this year, only 4 students scored an A on their first reading test. One month later this TRIPLED as 12 students scored A's, with 4 scoring at 100% or better.
(nope - not one smile from this guy - but he is guarding the Crown Jewels so I guess he should be serious - no pictures were allowed but I did get to see things my ancestors wore and used - even where I'm standing they too once stood 400 years ago as this was one of their palaces)
But instead of making sure only a few experienced great success and the rest were held down in their places, this more enlightened Stuart wants to be sure EVERYONE around him experiences MASSIVE success by overcoming what's holding them down, such as their own fears and insecurities....and becoming rulers of their own lives (another one of their palaces...can you imagine the dancing that went on here?)
On September 4th only 13 of the 27 students passed the test with 14 failing. (48% succeeded / 52% failed)
October 6th - 23 students passed with only 2 failing (2 students absent). That's 92% succeeding / only 08% failing!!!
22 of these students scored either an A or B while the one who got a C missed a B by 02% (78%). Two students considered "average" just one month ago are now asking to take Shakespeare's Complete Works home for extra reading (which is at least on a 10th grade level)
Of the 2 who failed, one is doing something at home he has never done before........reading! Much to his parents' surprise (and delight) this child who hated reading just 30 days ago is now excusing himself from the dinner table to read, saying something to the effect,
And after experiencing massive failure (only one of two in class to fail) and giving up (as even most adults would do), he toughened up and woke up to his true nature, which is the ability to change your life for the better as quickly as YOU can change for the better.
Two days later he was only one of two in the entire class to score a perfect 105% on the spelling test, changing where he sat from all the way in the front to all the way in the back.
The lower your performance the more critical your condition is, so the closer you are for me to observe and study you to figure out how I can succeed in helping you. And if you don't like where you're sitting (in class and in life), then CHANGE IT! (as I had to change from coffee to tea for awhile)
You should have seen his face......You should have seen his face! It would have given you hope and strength for at least a week. Maybe I will write the pilot for a TV show about a divorced dad who really loves his kids who is also a teacher who really loves his students. It would be a good show because it would be based on true events. Fiction inspires us. Truth empowers us.
(I'm sitting in the same chair at the same desk in the same home Charles Dickens wrote "Oliver Twist". The truth is that every history-maker and reality-changer persisted with their vision until it became true.)
Although I don't have the time or desire to be famous, I do have the desire to spend my time helping others feel famously alive. If we persist in holding onto our vision of Heaven even while in the midst of Hell, we do create Heaven here on Earth in our daily lives.
And if we persist in holding onto the hell in our lives, we create more of it even though bits of Heaven exists all around us.
A show like this would turn the hellish state of hopelessness and helplessness on their ears and replace them with heavenly love and empowering possibility.
The other student who failed the reading test came in with two family members for a meeting. It soon became clear the intention was to put the blame for failure on anyone but the student.
I called it for what it was, and asked what it would be like if the smile on the student's face wasn't because he was relieved it wasn't his fault, but empowered because it was his fault, and he felt confident he could change his persistent reality of failure into permanent success? With all the adults around him believing in and guiding him, how could he NOT stop failing and start succeeding?
The discussion turned heated and the bell was ringing to start school. I knew I hadn't played it safe and covered my behind by saying nice things that didn't hurt anyone's feelings (but don't change anything for the student). All that was going to happen was another person(s) was going to call for my removal and the student's life wasn't going to change for the better.
(as this Beefeater is ready to do if I don't get on the right side of the line, which is the left side. I'm just a rule breaker wherever I go)
To bridge this gap in communication (Do you see what I did there? Uploading the picture of London Bridge to "bridge" the gap... Are you impressed?... No?....OK :-)... I listed things I could do better, that I could change about me that might help the student. People can't keep arguing with you if you're not only telling them they're right, but that you know of even more things you could do better. Fortunately the adult who had been very angry with me moments earlier, turned his attention away from me and toward himself and also said what he could do better.
That's when I looked at the student and said it was his turn. As he struggled with this concept of accepting responsibility for his own results, but finally did, I knew a real change had been made. And I KNOW good things ARE coming.
I SEE it, FEEL it, and will FIGHT to HOLD ON to it UNTIL this student does too. What else is a parent or teacher's strength for if not to forever hold on to what those around him could be?
(And in between writing this I checked on Bella, who woke up and wrapped her arms around me in such a giant hug for such a little body. I couldn't help but whisper, "How can I love you more today?"
I saw Brosden and thanked him for something I noticed he did right yesterday, and he smiled back with such warm appreciation I thought, "No wonder he feels so good here and doesn't need his meds"(ADHD).
"Daddy I want to do it."
"I know. I'm just here to make sure you're safe."
"Mmmmm. Thank you Daddy."
"Thank YOU Sofia for being you".
We danced until the bacon was done :-)
When we are giving our focus and attention on what's going right in the world first, life can get better everyday as we change what's not right from a place of hope and empowerment.
And we not only approach what stopped us yesterday with determination, but often while smiling and laughing because WE KNOW we're going to succeed....no matter how many times it takes to do it......WE WILL PREVAIL!
(resting my arm on Dickens' hearth, where I'm sure he did the same on many a chilly London's night)
The beauty of our species is that our dreams are not only achievable, but unlimited. The imperfection is that our physical bodies wear out. But our spirits and minds can live on if they're big enough. Eventually we are going to die. Are we just trying to make it through another day, or are we living and dying for a beautiful dream?