Chapter 8 ~ Focus First on What's Right

As I log on to open my email my eyes open to more stories of death and devastation: (really old skeletons in London's Natural Museum of History)

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.

MySpace Playlist at MixPod.com

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,

"Mr. Stuart says this is just where I am, not who I am. I'm NOT a failure, and I AM getting better because I'm DOING something about it."

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.

If you don't throw away your excuses for why you can't change, you throw away your opportunity TO change. As YOU change so does your life.

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.

And it would replace at least one show that dumbs us down and numbs us into smallness with one that uplifts and enlightens us to our true, awe-inspiring selves.

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).

And these John Legend songs were playing while helping Sofia make bacon and eggs (my first breakfast in London - bangers and mash - delicious!)

"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)

No comments: