I know a lot of people. I think that there's a social person in me that competes with the socially awkward fraidy cat person. I like being social, and I think (for the most part), I cover my fear pretty well. But not many people really "get in." But those that do.... well, it is forever.
I met Sara the very weekend that she moved back to this area. She had been living in Wichita and we met through mutual friends. She was funny, witty, beautiful. She was a mess. And maybe that is what drew me to her. Because I would love to tell you how I had it all together, but I didn't. It was an instant friendship. She was not really new to town, but yeah,she was. And I had only been in town a few months, and needed some friends. We are the kind of friends that have permission to
I met my life-long best friend in about first grade. I mean, we went to the same church before that but in First grade we became recess buddies and began forging a best friend path. We found boys at the same time. And we found trouble. A#1 type of trouble. We befriended alcohol together. Which brought us closer together and divided us. But we also entered sobriety together. Not quite, but pretty dang close. And we both decided to go back to school and better our lives. My friend did it over a long period of time and was working for a college when she started her journey and the college helped with some of the expenses. She might have less debt to pay off than I do. She knows my history... with my family of origin, in marriage and the death of a marriage, and before sobriety and after, and she knows my heart.
These two gals are my life line. My family of choice, sisters of a sort. And I love them deeply. They encourage me and they tell me the truth even when it's not flattering or full of encouragement.
Recently, I had the privilege of meeting up with some friends that I had lost touch with. When our babies were little (they are 18 now), we were the best of friends. Then one friend moved to Tennessee, and the others moved a little farther away.... first Sioux Falls, IA for seminary and next stop, Africa. But the reunion was glorious. And I am reminded that I don't do things lightly. These, too, are live-long friends. They may not understand every less-than-glorious event in my life, but they bring peace, encouragement and a sense of family. My cup was full to overflowing at our recent reunion.
There are other important friendships. There are the few, who like my besties, have permission to make me angry for the greater good. I know to listen to their words, because they truly have my best interests at heart. These are the friendships that are important because they build me up and make me a better person. I am grateful.
Not sure if it is a bonus to you, so read it if you want to, don't if you don't want to. I am copying in my essay for admission to the Master of Education program. Read it and weep. Okay, I hope you don't weep. I hope you just think about public education and that each of us is a part of that whether we teach or not, because we are part of "the public." What if your role in improving public education?
Critical Thinking Essay
Master of Education;
Something Is Wrong In Education Today
The Beatles Were Right;
All We Need Is Love
Starting several years ago, when my grandson was in the second grade, he began being expelled from school for violent episodes. He would become frustrated and it would escalate. Until he had Mrs. May for his teacher. Then everything began to change. It wasn’t quite magic, but something really close. He began to succeed! Socially and academically. He had less outbursts, no more expulsions. Why? What happened? Mrs. May happened. Difficulty taking a spelling test because you are a struggling reader? Let’s differentiate your test. Nobel concept. One we’ve all heard in countless professional development sessions. And yet…. Mrs. May lived it. There was one spelling test that was treasured for longer than most. It had a 100% on it, that is true. It also said, “I love you Mrs. May.” “from Xander.” Aw. It is cute and sweet and melts a Grammy’s heart. But my teacher heart, it leapt for joy and went…. “This is it! This girl knows what teaching is about!” She instantly became a teaching hero. So what’s the problem?
I think “the problem” is multi-faceted. I think that more and more children struggle with their emotions and frustrations and have no way of overcoming their deficits. I think that throwing information at teachers doesn’t empower them or give them the skills to implement a plan. I think that teachers who just want to teach “the other 19…” are missing the picture.
I posed the question on social media the other night: What is wrong in education today? I got a LOT of varied responses. But one thing that broke my heart was “the line” between schools and families. Parents are not the problem, although they can and will be part of the solution. Teachers are not the problem, but if there is to be any sort of real change, teachers must be part of the change. I think that the heart of the problem lies in a mindset that we are trapped in. First of all, there is no perfect class. There are students who are easier to teach. And if you have a room full of them, the child who has never exhibited any problems a day in his/her life will step up and fill the gap...the “we have to have a ‘problem child’” gap. I say that from experience, and I wish it weren’t true. But my experience says that it’s a deeply embedded dynamic. The problem with students like my grandson is that in-school suspension doesn’t work, separation from other students doesn’t work, kicking them out of school doesn’t work. What we are doing in the classroom definitely doesn’t work. What works? More people like Mrs. May. Teachers who take the time to build a relationship with the student and the parent. Teachers who are willing not only to teach outside their box, but are willing to take the extra time and effort to do the things that take more time, that might be outside of their realm of knowledge. We need teachers who are going to take the things we learned in college about differentiation, diverse needs in the classroom and diverse ways to teach and we need to make it happen.
I often say that love covers a multitude of sins. I say that because it’s true. Have my grandson’s problems all disappeared? Absolutely not. I would say that there is a new and heightened frustration since the days of Mrs. May have long passed. He is hard to teach sometimes. Is it because he is inherently evil? Is it because his parents are addicts? Or maybe they don’t take care of him? None of these are true. He is a great person and has a wonderful heart. His parents work extremely hard to give him and his sister a good life and show them love and patience and understanding. I think when looking for a solution, the solution will come when whatever plan is developed is implemented with a lot of love. I think for real progress to be made, there has to be a bridge built between teachers and parents and we have to realize that our children are a common ground.
I can see some of the problem, but much of the time, the unique situation with each child is buried beneath these behaviors that we don’t know what to do with. I can see some of the solution, but it’s much easier to see what isn’t working than to implement real change. I think the heart of the issue here might just be about love and care for students and respect for all parties involved. I am a parent first, teacher second. I want to know education is on my side. I think that is every parent’s wish or hope.