Samurai: An ancient warrior code of strength, honor, and loyalty. ***
Samurai Teaching: Having the STRENGTH to passionately believe in every student; the HONOR to teach them in the way they best learn; and the LOYALTY to never give up on any of them. ***
Sensational Living: How sensationally we do this for them now determines how well they will be able to sensationally do this for themselves and for others as adults.
“To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.” - Issac Newton
It bothered me that a student I saw so much to believe in last year, has teachers this year that see so little in him. If they're going to give him less, the equal and opposite reaction is to give him more. And he, his mother and I had a great conversation that lasted for @30 minutes.
The morning I wrote about him (That Inner Light MUST Be Turned On) my son was sitting behind me doing extra school work. I had woken him up at 5:45 am by asking him, "Are You Ready to Battle for Your Soul?"
His mom and I had asked him to get all B's this grading period. When we checked he had one A, one B, one C, and two D's. So he came to live with Dad who no longer asked, but told him he was going to get ALL A's now. If he is going to get more, he is going to have to give more.To be able to give more, he's going to have to become more.
Something else that has bothered me very much is the rise in terrorism and hate. I went into a neighborhood I've been banned from to check on a person that needs to be cared about, and now hear I have to die for not being terrorized and afraid enough to respect their territory (to be honest I think it's as silly as after a guy pulled a gun on me to get out I caught him off-guard by coming after him, which startled him enough to put it back in his underwear and walk away. Where I went wrong was loosing my temper and telling him to pull his pants up. It was foolish because I took away his sense of importance and his reputation, and will readily apologize for that. But I WILL NOT allow myself to die over a question of mens' underwear fashion and if he thinks I scared him before I'll make his heart stop this time. If he does kill me I'm confessing right now I will lie to my fellow dead people about how I died and why and say I got hit by a bus).
It's an ugly place (25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods) filled with ugly thinking. I heard the city is going to tear it down, but that doesn't mean we can't bring as much light and love as possible to the people in it in the meantime. A new location won't change things for them anyway. They have to change for things in their lives to change. I'll feel strong for them, not sorry.
But I also heard something beautiful. Last week I called to see how my uncle in the hospital was doing. He couldn't talk so I told him what a truly great uncle he was and that I loved him very much. I began to choke up so my aunt thanked me and said goodbye. I found out he passed away right after, meaning the last thing he heard was how much he was loved. I can't think of any better words to hear your last few moments on Earth.
If terrorism and hate are about death, then the equal and opposite (and INTELLIGENT) reaction to this is that EVERYTHING around us MUST LIVE.
Awhile ago I turned down an offer to make a movie about my life for one simple reason, someone's reputation had to die in order to make mine look good. The "villain" was to be my ex-wife, who's not only my daughter's mother (what I do to her mother I do to her), but a person in the process of becoming her best self, just like the rest of us.
Simply because someone sees me as farther along that path than someone else doesn't mean we have to trash that someone else, which if put on film might prevent his or her highest evolution from ever taking place.
After 10,000 years of evolution, our species still only uses 3-5% of our hearts and our heads. What if we took a step forward towards using more by focusing less on striving to simply survive, or at best to succeed in order to say "Look at ME! Look at what I can do and how famous I am".......
What if we focused more on striving to succeed in order to live more fully and say, "Look at We! Look at what WE can do and how famously ALIVE we all can be!"?
This takes the ability to appreciate life while you have it.
While helping my son evolve towards his highest self Thursday night I got a call from Bella's mother telling me she has two F's. It seems our brilliant Bella has gotten bored by her school books and is being belligerent and bellicose about becoming her best Bella self. By the time I finished believing in and loving these two children, it was after midnight before I began grading the work of other children in the process of becoming their best selves.
When I came to school I saw a student I had at the beginning of the year who gave me her very best while she was with me for science. I picked her up and swung her around and thanked her for this. Walking away I wondered why I continue to give away energy I don't have and not save any for myself? It seems so stupid but feels so right.
At the end of the day I got my answer, and evidence that the decision to trade in my 15 minutes of fame for hopefully a lifetime of inspiration might just be paying off. I was handed something that not only will give me life for the rest of mine, but let me know I have done the same for her. It let me know that my life has become about "We".
It was the best Valentine's Day card I've ever received:
Book of Thanks
for Mr. Stuart
The kids and I were watching a show on the Grand Canyon the other day where they mentioned it was made @5 million years ago, which is the blink of an eye compared to how long the Earth has been around (4.5 billion years). To think that I could make any real difference in 42 short years confuses and awes me.
When I shared this student's card with my grandmother last night her voice filled with love as she told me how she felt about me. If terrorists can fill the world with fear and death, we can spend our lives reacting more intelligently by filling it with powerful love and life.
I might not be husband/boyfriend material, and therefore have no one specific person to send a valentine's to. The last person I dated complained this summer about what was wrong with me just as my exes did, and they aren't wrong. I work too much and dream too big.
But what I can do is the equal and opposite by focusing on all that's right with me, lovingly and humorously work on what's not yet perfect and probably never will be, and give the very best I have to offer to the world in one humongous heart hug.
Living like I'm dying....doing both for life-giving love. There's nothing better.
*pics are from last summer's trip to Rome, taken at the Roman Forum, the bridge over the River Tiber, the Castel Sant'Angelo, Spanish Steps, Piazza Venezia, Pantheon, Colosseum, and Vatican.
This summer I'm planning to go to Greece. I can only imagine what will happen to my head and heart sitting and stepping in the same places as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
I'm going to come back even more of a giant pain as to what life is and can be :-)
A middle school teacher came into my room to observe some of my students she'll have next year. I asked her about the student I had last year whom I'm currently working on a super hero/educational comic book with this year. She shook her head and told me he's not doing well. When I asked why she told me things that were wrong with him.
When I mentioned how much he grew last year (probably as much if not more than any other student in the country - 700+ points in math and 865 in reading, when @100 points is equivalent to one year's worth of growth) she told me even more of what was wrong with him. It hit me this morning that her jaw had clenched and face tightened as she said this....almost as if she was fighting to justify why he wasn't learning this year...i.e. why in no way was it her fault
I tried planting some seeds of how she could help him grow by mentioning some things I did with him that worked, like finding out what was right about him (his love of drawing super heroes). It didn't seem the "soil" was very fertile planting ground though. Her mind seemed set on why his current failure was his fault and not hers.....and everything that was wrong with him v. right............whereas last year my mindset was on where was his failure WAS my fault, what was right already about him, and how I could change my teaching to allow his strengths to help him succeed.
Whatever I was doing in the first part of the year wasn't working, and in a parent-teacher-administration meeting I took the blame for it
I began to try a new approach with him.......and it didn't work
So I tried something different....and that didn't work either
It wasn't until mid-year that I became a much better student of him that I learned how to become a much better teacher for him
But this process wasn't possible without taking full responsibility for where I was failing, learning from my failures, trying a new, more intelligent approach.....and continuing to try UNTIL I found an approach that worked.
If someone like Edison can try 1,000's of times to figure out how to invent something like the light bulb, can't we as teachers and parents try at least more than a couple of times with these young human beings that have been placed in our care?
We know when we're born that light bulb is on, illuminating us with all that is good about us and all that is possible in this brand new wonderful world.
That light goes out in way too many of us way too soon. But that doesn't mean the bulb is broken. It just needs to be rewired and then relit.
And we must find a way to do that.
"Mr. Stuart, one day a kid just like me is going to be reading a comic book written by me."
I just heard what he said to me at the end of last year.
This year it seems less likely that will ever happen.
You don't give up on your most important dreams simply because the light has gotten dimmer on them.
It means you put more energy towards making it burn even brighter.
I'll make sure when I call him today that his inner dream light floods out the darkness beginning to surround him.
And I'll keep doing it until he's able to do it on his own.........His dreams depend on it.
He just used more of it than what the average person did, and still does use, which is @3-5%.
We ALL can learn (or relearn) to use more of our brain at any time, at any age. Case in point, my daughter Sofia can't get on FCAT Explorer because there are no programs designed for 2nd grade. As her father I thought, "Well, how CAN I make it possible for her to have access to these learning programs?"
I discovered I can set her up in her own classes, allowing her to begin at the lowest levels available. In reading she is doing the 3rd grade program, and in math and science she is doing the 5th grade programs. I told her the questions would be hard, but not impossible if she thought them through.
She completed the first reading story, getting 4 out of 6 questions right on her own, and the other 2 right after being given a hint.
She is doing the science program and although much harder (because it's at a 5th grade reading level and asks questions about matter, mass, volume and density), she is doing even better, getting 5 out of the first 6 questions correct on her own, and the other one correct after guidance.
She looked at me with tears in her eyes. I asked her if those were tears because she loved me, or tears because she hated me asking her to try doing such hard problems.
She said she was crying because of how much I believed in her.......
Maybe when we learn to use more of our brains, we also learn to use more of our hearts. We apply this to education, and learning can go from teachers pressured to teach to the test and students studying just to get "good grades", to teachers teaching to the hearts and minds of the future, and students studying to become fearless and free.
*I haven't had time to download any new pictures since school started last fall, but it has allowed me to rediscover old pictures, which are bringing a giant smile to my face....and enough energy to bring this love and belief to all my students this week.