Sunday, February 28, 2016

Snow Day Intentions vs Reality

Having two official snow days in the books I realized a few things during my time off.
1. My best intentions to do nothing, while sounds great, is not really a reality when you have one or more of the following; children, a house, an appetite or social/moral obligations.
2. A mere watch of a video on Youtube can send you down a long and powerful thought train.

My intentions for Thursday were to curl up with a new book and read it cover to cover. The night before I had finished off a book, so it seemed completely conceivable that I could stay in my jammies and read the day away. It sounded lovely. I picked up the book and read chapter one. After the first chapter, I did a quick calculation and figured it would take approximately 8 hours to read the whole thing. Dang! That was longer than I originally expected. Maybe I better eat breakfast first. And check my email. And sort the laundry. Oh and then do some laundry. And play a couple games on my phone. Oooh look, there is Facebook. Ah, a video. I should watch that. So I did.

First, let me say I am a sucker for real life stories. If you were to write your life story, I would read it. If you were to video yourself sharing your struggles and triumphs, I would watch it. I would because I love learning from my fellow man. So here was this video with a post stating, "Statistically, I am supposed to be dead, in jail, or homeless. So what happened? ONE. CARING. ADULT."
If you have not already watched it, you should. Click on the link below and do yourself a favor and watch it. Yes, I know it is 16 minutes and 42 seconds long. Watch it anyway.

In it the speaker, Josh Shipp, shares about his time in the foster care system. His intentional process and plan to get himself kicked out of his foster homes. In which he successfully did, time after time, until he ended up in the home of Rodney and his wife. Now I don't want to spoil it, you need to watch the video for yourself.

It made me think of my kiddos at work. I am working with the at-risk and struggling students. My kids have stories that make you shudder and some that make you cry. The things I have heard in my short time at the school, well quite honestly, it sends me to my knees. Sometimes I would really like to sit down with the "adult" in their lives and have a little heart to heart. "Do you not know your influence?" "Do you not know there is a better way?" "Do you know Jesus? Let me introduce you to Him." "Do you know where your child learned their interesting "vocabulary?" "Have you ever heard of Celebrate Recovery? Any hurt, habit or hang-up!"  "What is life like for you? Do you have anyone supporting you?"

Because the reality is, many of my kiddos parents are also from broken homes. They are also struggling. They themselves are at-risk. They too need one caring adult in their lives.

So around and around my thoughts bounce. Thinking through the kids who intentionally push, prod and provoke. What is their motivation? For Josh, he was scared, confused and hurt by the things happening to him and around him. One of the lines that stuck for me, "What kids do not talk out, they act out." Kids are acting out.

Then there were Rodney's words, "We don't see you as a problem. We see you as an opportunity." How I can relate to Rodney's words. I don't see my kids as a problem. I see the opportunity. The possibilities. I see these kids with bright futures. Every day I show up at their table, I have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. Beyond math facts and strategies, I am an adult that truly cares about each one of my students. So I smile. I hug. I encourage. I teach. We talk through moral characters. We talk about perseverance. We talk about respect. We talk about self-control.
Opportunities. I look them in their eyes. I listen.

Something I am doing is working. I have seen tremendous growth in the last couple weeks. I have earned their trust and I am seeing results. In test scores, yes. But more importantly, in how they respond at the table. Kids that used to tear down, encouraging. Kids that used to give up, keep trying and because they kept at it, master a concept. Kids that used to throw around furniture for attention, sit respectfully (not yet quietly) and excitedly work on whatever I put in front of them. I see eager faces. I see compassion. I get hugs, lots of hugs. One of the things I emphasis with my groups is struggling is okay. Frustration is okay. How we respond to the struggle and the frustration is up to us. We can act out or we can ask for help. I let them know I am there to help. I am there to be a caring adult in their lives. I believe in them.

God knows I had people in my life that believed in me! My parents for one. But beyond that, I had a few amazing teachers. People that at just the right moment spoke life into me. Because the truth is, I could have been a statistic. In some regards I was a statistic. I relate more to my students than most of my coworkers. I was that girl that went to school with her hair unkempt in elementary. I was that girl rushing after boys in middle and high school. I made choices. Others forced their choices upon me. I fell into wrong circles. By the grace of God I fell into the right ones. I have a history. One that makes me know without a shadow of a doubt, that each child is worth it. There is value in every child. That hidden among the arguing, complaining, and obstinance, is a life that can do marvelous and beautiful things. I know because I am that child. I see myself in the kids that I serve and where others see the behaviors and failures, I see the opportunity and potential.

See what happens when you watch a video? It requires you to respond. At least that video did. It made me put down the book. After shoveling the drive and spending time with my own kids, I never did pick the book back up. Instead I picked up a better understanding and appreciation.

Plus there was always, Friday's Snow Day... a day to binge watch the new Fuller House series.

It was my full intention, except life happened. I watched the first six episodes. Then, I ate tacos and  found myself at the Magnusson Hotel with the Homeless Angels . Three generations of my family putting away winter coats and relocating furniture; making space for new donations. Running to the store to pick up 2XL men's underwear because there was a man in need and no clean underwear to give him.  Making a difference; one smile, hug, moment, donation at a time.

My book is still resting on my end table.
I did not do it in one sitting but I did finish the Fuller House season one.
My intentions ended up different than my reality. And for this I am grateful.

Here's the video:

Every Kid is ONE Caring Adult Away From Being a Success Story
Statistically, I am supposed to be dead, in jail, or homeless. So what happened? ONE. CARING. ADULT.More videos & resources at:
Posted by Josh Shipp on Monday, February 8, 2016

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