Summer Hiatus: Day # 7

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Walking into your classroom and seeing two of your students hanging out in your classroom. Their response is not to be awkward because it has been awhile since they have seen you (try a year…they haven’t been in my classroom in a year), but to hug you. Yup that is why I do this.

Peace, love and unicorns….

df68f2aca496172dca2530bfb8a41a7eThat statement right there is my go to to avoid what my students call the feels. The moments sometimes so breathtaking or heartbreaking that you feel the lump crawling into your throat and your eyes begin to water. Eventually, the world knows and see how you really feel. It is vulnerable and maybe what some would call a weakness. I don’t though. I teach with my heart and it goes into every single thing I do.

Sometimes it is the heartbreak and sometimes it is the irresistible feeling of knowing something great just happened. The end of the year always brings that around for me. Come the last day I walk in chest heavy and tight because I know the tears will happen. Usually it is because I know that greatness happened. That lightening in a bottle feel. I have had it before as a college instructor, but now it is multiplied by students whom I have spent my last three years getting to know.  Hours upon hours of classes and time spent learning and talking about things in life that sometimes matter a lot and some time don’t matter at all.

The hardest lesson for me has always been the idea that I can’t save them all. It was probably the first lesson I learned and the one I continue to have to learn over and over and over. But I want to I tell myself or If I don’t try who will? And I know it is this very striving that makes me a good teacher. Especially on the ones that others give up on. Not because they didn’t try but because sometimes you have to try harder then them and anyone that teaches knows that this is the quickest way to burn out and hate your job.

But for some reason my soul, my passion and my drive lies with those students. The ones with a metaphorical broken wing. I don’t ever go in believing I will fix them. But I always go in thinking I can be their champion and the one that reminds they can do it no matter their obstacle. That requires a lot of give, and faith and sometimes sadness.

But yesterday, the reality is I had to deal with one of the ones that I won’t/can’t save. I didn’t give up and neither did they. Instead their path just needs to be different and that is hard. It is for the best, but it is just hard. I grieve for the possibilities lost. I grieve at the choice and I grieve for the hope I had. And it doesn’t mean there is no hope. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE I say. But this was one of those times my best teaching lesson was to sit back, say good bye and hope. And yesterday I did that.

And quickly there was reminder, after reminder of that same student that didn’t look all that different but their path is and I was covered in thank yous and hugs and reminders that what I do matters even though sometimes it does break your heart and that even though it is hard sometimes hope will rise and love will win. It just isn’t in my time.

Because it does matter.

I don’t care who you or what you do or what you look like or where you are from.  You matter. The other night when things were in flames in Baltimore and the riots were happening I was so furious. I was listening to head banging Metallica and wanting to scream in the streets. I was not at all supporting anarchy and chaos. I wasn’t supporting the mom who later went down and tried to smack sense into her kid.

I was mad because there is a problem and no one wants to talk about it. No one and why? Why can’t we? I wrote a blog post and still felt unresolved and frankly I still do. I went to school yesterday and thought nothing more of it but an ember was burning. If I don’t talk about it who will?

riot

Then I read Jackie’s post and I thought yes. This is it. So many of my students idolize Martin Luther King Jr. I teach college speech and rhetoric so yes MLK comes up. Always. Then that MLK quote just resonated with me. It actually caught fire on my heart and my mind on my way to work and I was overcome by tears. I was overcome by all the same emotions from my blog post.  And thought to myself….I NEED TO LISTEN TO WHAT THE WORLD IS TELLING US.

And guess what I did. I did just that. I spent 80 minutes of my class today talking with my students about this. We didn’t just talk about this. We talked about the hard parts of this. We talked about our own prejudices. We talked about our own stereotypes and I listened and I said 800x your voice matters despite what the world tells you. We cried. We comforted. We giggled. We had sympathy and we realized. We talked about what it was like to live in a diverse community and more importantly what it is like to be a teenager. It was raw. It was real and my eyes were open.

At the end of the class period we left the room congratulating ourselves for talking about the tough stuff and a reminder from me that they do matter. That we all matter. They finally understood why I don’t allow the words, “Shut up” in my room and I never will. They may never remember the lessons I taught them on grammar and american literature, but I guarantee they will always remember that conversation. We all will.

The biggest lesson I received out of it was that we have so very much further to go and together with our generation and this next generation we have the ability. We just have to listen.

Just cause you call them a thug, doesn’t mean that they are.

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Sometimes I want to run to the streets and scream as loud as I can about the injustices I see. I want to scream so loud so that the whole world will hear.  Sometimes I think my notion of my profession is a little too Romantic. A little too Dangerous Minds. But I can’t resist what I feel in my heart. I don’t just feel it in my heart, I feel it in my soul.  And I am mad!

This draw and need to give youth a voice. That isn’t Romantic. It sure doesn’t feel like it. It feels urgent, necessary and important. I stand in front of my classroom on the daily and tell students their voices matter and probably 70% roll their eyes and think, “Yea every teacher says that.” But every once in awhile one will speak out and I think, “Dang, maybe just maybe they do hear me.”

Last week I had a student in my speech class give a speech about spoken word. He wanted to teach his peers about his spoken word poetry that he writes. A poetry that is emotional and hard to deliver. But what I noticed in the weeks prior to this is that he would write these amazing poems and then would end up tearing himself apart and tossing them in garbage.

Somewhere along the way someone told him or taught him his words didn’t matter and that what he had to say didn’t matter.  And that frustrates the heck out of me. Seriously…Why do teenagers voices not matter? We push them to be adults and get jobs and do important things in the world and when they try we hush them and tell them they  don’t understand the real world. We force them into mini molds of what we expect of them.

It isn’t my job to tell them the reality of the world. It is my job to teach to them to communicate those words so that people hear them. I have always believed that. Then I hear today about what is happening in Baltimore and I can’t bring myself to listen to news reports or watch footage. I heard three things. Riots. Caused by black teens. Thugs.

And I shut down. Why? Why? Why? Seriously how are we not passed black teens and thugs? And why is that the part that is news worthy? Maybe a little more addressing the actual problems that exist would get us passed this surface assumption? I am sure there are facts in there that someone will tell me I am missing. But why? They are teenagers and they want to be heard. They are trying to be heard and their reward is to accentuate their race and call them a thug? And what exactly is this solving?

It pushes them into the roles that we force them into. A life of a thug or white trash or fill in whatever crappy adjective you can conjure that adults say about teens when they don’t follow our preset rules. I am not saying lawless activity is okay, but I am saying it never has to get to that point.

So yea that isn’t Romantic. Our teens are fighting against tides that have absolutely nothing to do with them. They cry out in social media. They cry out in classrooms like yours and mine. They cry out in the media or in the wrong ways. They cry out in their homes or in their bedrooms or in gangs. But that is because they are teenagers. They are supposed to do it in wrong ways.

I can’t quit shaking my head in disbelief. I cry out instead for all of us to give them an ear. They need to be heard. They need to know that the world can be a better place and empower them with the ability to create it. That doesn’t happen when we see skin deep and shut our eyes and ears  and expel our prejudices and stereotypes.

There is no magical school of thought in that. This isn’t the beauty in the classroom I am talking about now. This is the real, raw and tough to talk about stuff that needs to be taking place in our classrooms. If we can’t talk about it then why are we there? Am I to teach them how to behave in a manner that suits the media and the adults who run it? Or I am to teach them how to talk so that none of those stereotypes and prejudices matter? Prove them wrong I say. Prove what they think and say about you is wrong. There is a greatness in that that no one can touch.

I tell my kids (real and students) to be a doer. There is nothing wrong with being a dreamer, but a doer goes out and does it. They don’t take the no’s. They don’t accept the prejudices and they ignore the names. But we have to help them. By we I mean the adults in their lives. The parents. The teachers. The friends.

We all have to step up and be a bit better. A better listener. Empower our kids with voices that are heard so that violence is not their last call to action. Stop being satisfied with calling them a thug and washing our hands of it and changing the channel to something more appealing. We have to expect and demand more of our teens. And I promise you this sometimes we may be disappointed because they may not met those demands, but I guarantee you this….if you actually listen and give them a voice THEY WILL TRY!

And that try is worth something and they are worth something. So let’s hear them no matter where they come from.

Kafka…This is why I love literature. Words have power. Sometimes we have to take it back.

kafka1906What was always incomprehensible to me was your total lack of feeling for the suffering and shame you could inflict on me with your words and judgments. It was as though you had no notion of your power. I too, I am sure, often hurt you with what I said, but then I always knew, and it pained me, but I could not control myself, could not keep the words back, I was sorry even while I was saying them. But you struck out with your words without much ado, you weren’t sorry for anyone, either during or afterwards, one was utterly defenseless against you.

The good kind of stuff.

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Every morning I walk into my classroom and I feel like it is home.  It isn’t that good kind of home to be with my guy or my baby girls. But it is awfully close. To go to work every day and love what you do has meant more to me than I can even verbalize. On my wall I have notes, letters, drawings, and projects if they will stick. My filing cabinets have presents of candles, cards and picture frames that all are just little tiny pieces of my heart and hard work. Each representing a beautiful memory or sentiment. A daily reminder that sometimes we all feel a little small, but we can do big things.

I have no doubt there are millions like me. Teachers who give everything they have and love what they do and carry a passion for the job that is unparalleled. I work with them. They roam my same halls and carry the same passions. The pay isn’t what it should be(it really isn’t in most fields), Sometimes it is draining emotionally and physically and sometimes I do things I don’t necessarily like. But all the time it is and has been my passion. It is what I was meant to do after being a wife and mother.

However, that really isn’t the intended purpose of this post. I made the conscious decision almost six years that I would not share too much info on social media from my students. No identifying markers, no pictures and sometimes that is hard. They are constantly doing amazing things that make my teacher heart swell. They hit walls and then overcome them. Those are things that tell me the sacrifices of my own education and my time were why I am there today.

But for the last month my students and my colleague have been working tirelessly to prepare for a musical. We are doing “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.” And you say, “so what? Every high school in America has some sort of musical.” And you would be right, so what makes ours special. Well ladies and gentleman our program is still it’s infancy. We are three years in and every thing we have done we have started from scratch.

Any drama program we have had was started from the passion and idea of my colleague who loves theater and me supporting and pushing it as far as I had the agency to do so. We started with a zero balance and zero people. It was her and an idea of two students who I said, “Go talk to her!” We are now into our third production and first musical.

And wow, this one is stretching the limits of our technical knowledge and capabilities.  I have a tech team which is amazing. I have a tech team who learned what took me a couple of months in weeks. We have broken lights, torn auditeria curtains, an old sound board that we peeled the dust off. We have no costume or prop budget. Every little thing we have done we have had to create ourselves. We have had to use the resources and people we have.

What started out as three people and idea has blossomed into a large cast, an even larger stage crew and a tech crew. I can barely get that out without tears in my eyes. These are all kids who had to purchase their own costumes, donate wires to make the tech work and more importantly tireless dedication to something bigger than themselves. We may not be up to Jesus Christ Superstar status yet, but we will get there.

To say I am proud is an understatement, but more than anything I am honored to work with such amazing students and staff who do this on a daily basis. It isn’t just for our drama club. It is a belief in the school community that we are trying to create and the belief that you get out of it, what you put into it. That dear readers is love winning.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

From where I sit: Taking research a bit further…

20120802-141021.jpgI have been in public education for five years and I feel the constant need to analyze data almost daily. I know that sometimes data is a naughty word in education. However, I don’t always believe it to be so. I have worked in a few different fields. I started working at Dominos Pizza as a teenager and I worked with data there. At 16, I started as as a neighborhood knocker. We went to neighborhoods that had high order yields when we left coupons on their doors. We also analyzed orders and how often they came in and when they came in. That is using data and no one really poo poos that. It is good business.

I then worked for my dad in his business. He used data there to determine the amount of time it took me to clean an apartment or clean up a common area of an apartment complex. If we took too long he had to make changes or if we went too quick he had to check quality. Again, that was good business.

Then I worked at flower shop where I did all the accounts payable and receivable and that whole job was data. Who has paid their flower bills, who did not? When do most orders come in and from who? And what wire service do you use most? Or what credit card service do you use? Can we get certain things cheaper? I then carried a similar position with Delta Faucet eventually moving into customer service where I was responsible to handle point of purchase printed materials so I analyzed orders and shipments and usage there too. It is just good business.

The one thing that is different in my job now is that we are dealing in humans. We are placing data on humans which sometimes gives the false idea of manufacturing and this idea that we are manufacturing a learner and doer. And yes in a sense we are. But humans are so very complex that really that data is only a snap shot in time and in the next minute it can change. I see it daily and by the minute.

But what is important here is that I get my students who are almost considered adults to do something with the data they retrieve. A lot of my job is about teaching kids how to say the things they want to say. That may be in writing a research paper, a literary paper, a speech or a presentation. For so long that has meant finding statistics and and plopping them in a paper and citing it and then trying to explain it.

Well in my classes this semester I have taken it a step further. I chose to do this because you have too! Students can longer be prepared for college and/or jobs and just give someone an answer they found on google. That doesn’t work. They need to see rhetoric as more than a commercial or  putting words out into the universe. They need to understand why they are and how they are.

infographic

I have chosen to do that this year with infographics. I rolled it out with my student publications kids first because it is a smaller section of kids and I have a bit more freedom with the curriculum. The first part of our unit focused on what an infographic is and rhetorically analyzing so very many infographics. They loved the visual rhetoric and analyzing it. They truly became experts on the visual aspects of what appeals in an infographic, but in turn they also became experts at looking at the sources (or lack there of with some) from the creators of the infographics.

From there they had to do some sort of research on whatever they wanted. It had to be both primary and secondary research on their topic and then create an infographic containing their information. Essentially, they had to put words into action. Their critiques above assisted in creating amazing infographics. They were achieving something that they had no idea. They were not only analyzing data, but they finding their own data and doing their own primary research and thereby becoming the experts on their topics. The project was such a success that I know I want to carry it over into my other classes.

I know some people dog this generation of students with being lazy and I truly don’t believe that to be true. I think they are innovators and want to and can see more than the generations before them. For an analogy, they understand the research paper, but see it as 2 dimensional. They don’t just want that 2D version of research anymore. They want to see the 3D version.

Yes data is bad sometimes. I would never argue that when dealing with the real lives of students who bring all sorts of stuff to my classroom. But they also need to understand that data has a value. They just need to be shown that it is just a number. It is a point in time and represents that time and not them.

Eye on the prize, GIRL!

Two years ago I sat in an auditeria with a room full of about 1000 other teachers and education support staff. A new school year had just begun and we had our annual professional development meeting in our district. Unsure of what we would see that day I sat eagerly waiting for the 3 o’clock end of the day because that was a treat for my usual 5 o’clock end time. But as our speaker was introduced my attitude changed. Standing in front of us was, Principal Kafele, a speaker that I had no idea would affect my own teaching for the following years to come.

What happened was he began to speak and I began to feel as if it were just he and I in the room. Very rarely had I heard someone speak about teaching the way I felt about teaching. His focus is primarily working with students who fall into the gap. The gap as defined by society that tries to foretell a students success based mostly on the factors they have no control over. He believes in all his soul and purpose that this lies within a students attitude from those factors and he works with educators and parents to help them understand the impact they could have on students attitudes.

After two years of teaching at the university level I found myself drawn to these students. Students who struggled to look in the mirror and see anything. Students who didn’t believe they could be anything, but I knew somewhere someway they had found their way to my classroom therefore they had some fire somewhere. I just tried to ignite it.  For me I saw the opportunity to teach at an early college and I took it because I knew the EC model worked primarily with students like this.

After teaching in this setting for a few years I recognized my school doesn’t necessarily fit that model, but I did realize that most schools do now EC, traditional high school, middle school, college and elementary. Our youth are hurting and being left behind for a myriad of political and personal reasons that have nothing to do with me.

So there on that early fall day I found myself connecting with another human who understood my passion and reignited my own fire in finding my purpose in education. For some they could say they always knew they wanted to be a teacher and I admire that. I believe in some ways that was my dream too. But my dream was different. It was about seeking out students who didn’t see their greatness and pushing them in front of those mirrors. He said, “You must see them for more than they are right now. You have to see the future they cannot.” And I do.

Sometimes my students call me mom and that is great, but that is NOT what I am seeking. I am NOT seeking to be a favorite or the coolest teacher. I want none of that. I want that push and pull relationship that is a constant. A constant that they can count on.  That means I hold them to high moral and academic standing no matter where they are from. That means when they fall short I remind them and support them through the consequences and I will always rejoice in the good.

Three years into this setting and I can tell you I know my students. I know every single one of them. I make it my mission to know them and remind them of their futures. And sometimes that means I am not their favorite because I call them on the tough stuff. I call them on not being their best. But they need it because more than anything they need to know their greatness.

Sometimes this means I go home broken hearted because they are teenagers and they do make mistakes. And sometimes they get mad at me because I do say, “Hey, you aren’t being the best you.” But they also know they always have me in their corner reminding them they can and will do it. They see me live it in my own life. A sign in my room right next to my desk is a published article by a Phd prof I had. He gave me a copy before it went to print. I wrote in sharpie marker to myself, “Eye on the prize GIRL!” I did this for the exact same reason I teach the way I do.

Life is too easy to get caught up in the crap. The crap can be defined however you want and we all got it. But most of the time the crap weighs you don’t and keeps you from your intended path. They know I get it because I have lived it. I am transparent about that. My own life I could apply it right now. I live it. Passion for  where you have been, passion for where you are going, passion for where you are and passion for where you are headed.

In my last five years teaching I have bargained with myself that if I ever lose that I will switch careers. When I start seeing my kids as less than who I believe they can be I can’t teach. I run the risk of ruining who they are and who they could become and I don’t have the right. I will never ever have that right and that is why I respect this profession so much. I recognized the impact I have on the faces I see every day.

I can’t and shouldn’t bend them to my will and my beliefs. I should instead encourage them to find their own in the ways I have. Find their dreams. Speak their dreams and make their dreams happen. And should worst ever come to worst they have a place to come to remind them failure is an option and sometimes it happens. That place is me. I have been that place and will continue to be that place.

I recognize that this passion of mine sometimes takes me past my contract hours, sometimes creates an emotional connection that I sometimes take home. As the years pass I get better at compartmentalizing it or I sulk for a day and find a way to move on past it. But this is a career I love. A career that does not feel like going to work. A career that allows me to work with content that I admire and love and with people who I feel the same about.

If you are a teacher or a parent even and you are looking for someone to ignite a fire in you I cannot recommend more highly this youtube clip by Principal Kafele. He has a great series in Messages to your son, Messages to you parents and messages to you educators.

Rita Pierson also provides a similar message to educators and her rhetoric is amazing.

A New Beginning…

I will admit this is only my third year at teaching in the k12 system and in a high school environment. So by comparison my word may have a little less meaning. But I can tell you this, my school is doing amazing and innovative things. I have the distinct pleasure of working in a department with forward thinkers who not only understand their content at the top of their game, but who push themselves above and beyond Every-New-Beginningand rarely accept just average classroom techniques. What we are doing is hard to place words too. But what we are doing is supporting, teaching and driving a concept in education that I don’t believe many can compare to. 

I do work for a magnet school. I also work for an early college. And I can tell you that you will hear about the things we are doing. You won’t just hear about them, you know that they are making major impacts on our community, in our students and in our own lives. And no I would not dare put down my counterparts in traditional high schools or early colleges. That is not what I mean at all because truthfully I have no background knowledge of other schools. Every single teacher usually has some sort of impact be it good or bad. But what we have is lightening in a bottle and every year we pray and hope it stays. And every year it just gets more and more strong. Sometimes the intensity of such a thing is overwhelming, but then I tend to be an intense person.

I am two weeks into our new school year and two weeks into my dual credit course. I am beyond pleased with the strides we have already made. My juniors have done exactly what I expected from them and above and beyond. I also have had the distinct pleasure of working with these students as freshman and some as sophomores. But to watch their minds grow and change over the last two going on three years has given me more fulfillment than anything other than my own family’s strides and successes.

I have created a college environment in my classroom where the student not only thinks for themselves, but they are expected to think with reason. This has and will be their hardest maneuver yet as students. I have offered a very gray version of an English class. They have had me for the black and white version of an English classroom, so they are adjusting their sails. Or adjusting to me moving their cheese (we read “Who Moved My Cheese?” as freshman together) and trying to figure out what it means to be in a college English classroom.

I am trying to teach them Education has power and that they need to learn to harness it. I truly believe they will; and as they sail off I will be so proud to have been a small little sliver of them grabbing hold of their lives and directing it. I am teaching American Literature this year in my dual credit course with Freshman Composition. And I realized that it is not without thought that 11th graders are being taught to read and write and figure out who they are. All of the literature and writing we are doing is about finding identity, cultural belonging and finding the words to articulate it. It is an existential crisis in the making and is that not what teenagers 16-18 are going through?

They are figuring out colleges, taking tests that tell them whom and what they can be. They are being smacked with the realities of working, realities of people in their way saying you can’t or can, the reality of overcoming their childhoods and truly thinking about what life could be like out there with out the safety nets provided by their parents, guardians, schools, churches and friends. They are being told to find their voice, their own way and do this before you are 18. It is a lot.

I get to help them articulate those voices and put them on paper. It is not just an honor, but a privilege and no matter what my paycheck says every two weeks it has absolutely no comparison to the magic I get to see as they find themselves, their voices and their lives.

Can we NOT be okay with that?

I am sure I am not the only person in the blogging world talking about the ridiculous amounts of gun violence in our schools. And yes that bothers me. But the bigger problem I see is how okay we are with it. We watch the news story. We say, “Aww. That is sad.” But then we move on. We take a sigh of relief that it isn’t in our neighborhood or our school. Usually immediately the rhetoric turns to politics, the NRA and the left or the right. Fingers get pointed and we end up closing the dialogue because it is complicated.

It is NOT complicated people. There are families hurting. There is real pain going on. I don’t care about politics. They won’t fix it. I don’t think figuring out more red tape or less red tape on guns will fix it. Looking at mental health issues, changing stigmas and facing the real problems in our society is what will fix this. And that job is so monstrous and arduous that the thought alone makes us overwhelmed.

But there are things we can do. We can notice the people in our communities who hurt. We can know those that live among us. I mean truly know them. Know their names, know their lives without our judgement. And that folks is hard. The answer is never as simple put as that. Stopping this massive amount of violence isn’t as easy as a conversation. It just isn’t.

But why are we not rising up and demanding things change? Why do we turn on our news channel or read the article and just click the x or turn the channel? Then we hope it won’t be us. Why do these statistics not promote action:

Since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been an average of 1.37 school shootings for each school week, according to data maintained by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group fighting to end gun violence.

Including Tuesday’s incident at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon, 74 school shootings have taken place in the approximately 18 months since the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown shooting. The average school year typically lasts about 180 days, which means there have been roughly 270 school days, or 54 weeks, of class since the shooting at Newtown. With 74 total incidents over that period, the nation is averaging well over a shooting per school week.

At the end of my school year we had a day tacked on and we went through a new counter violence training.  This is a

 

http://thinng.com/817-violence-is-the-problem-not-the-solution

http://thinng.com/817-violence-is-the-problem-not-the-solution

big deal for me and a big deal for schools using it. No longer are our schools requiring that you sit in the back of the dark corner quiet praying for your life and contemplating how far you will go for your peers or students. No more waiting for that police officer to save you. FYI: in almost every case of school violence all the police did was the clean up and organization after the fact. So now I have officially been given permission to fight back and to make decisions for my students and myself. And I believe that to be a wonderful thing.

But I have to wonder what is next. Is it a gun in my hand? Is it me the “good guy” fighting the bad guy in the way he is fighting me? Well I will tell you right now. A resounding no. I am not for or against guns. But I am completely against guns in the school on the premise to counter incoming guns in the school. I am okay with trained professionals with guns. If that is a resource officer, administration or teacher fine. But I am against me with a gun.

And you ask what exactly it is that I am doing about this problem. How am I really getting to know my community?  Well every single year I teach roughly 140 kids. I teach and preach the lesson, “We fight with words.” I incorporate how words create social change and social change creates social movements. So then I am guessing you are asking how words are going to stop a mad and deranged teenager from shooting up his school, right? I am not saying it will.

I am saying that a lot of times students (or people in general) just want to be heard. They want someone who is listening to them and tries to understand. I see it everyday in my classroom. These messages are being sent daily to parents, teachers, counselors and anyone who will listen. You have just got to listen.

It is so easy to get so busy with life grading, moving onto the next thing that listening isn’t happening. Then you are just another person that isn’t listening to what they are saying. Then we move into the issue being a mental health issue. A mental health issues in a country that stigmatizes mental illness. “He’s odd” we say or “she is a psycho” and thus this wall of isolation begins happening.

That folks is the problem. We push away those who don’t look like us, sound like us, talk like us and we don’t listen when they cry. We are the most connected as we have ever been with the social media that exists, but yet people are still not being heard. I have really struggled since my guy’s diagnosis/surgery and sometimes I find myself seeking a voice in a Facebook status or tweet. But then when that status goes up and there are three likes and no comments or  no re-tweets or favorites the voice feels less validated and ignored.

Then I sit down and realize I am really just wanting a voice out there to tell me it is okay and honestly that is not the right way. It is talking to someone who will listen. It is seeking out the right people and places to do that. But we have to be listeners. We have to want to hear it. My teaching philosophy is thoroughly instilled with people finding their voice through writing and speaking. It is about finding their audience.

I am doing what I can. I can’t say I will save my school or save my own children from violence on my proclamation. But I am saying I am trying. Are you? And I am not saying I am okay with another school shooting and changing the channel. Are you? #lovealwayswins