Resilience

Life is filled with so many hard ‘little and big’ lessons. Some we learn through watching and others we learn by living. Today was a busy day which had me again rushing out the door coffee cup and papers in hand. After a crazy morning followed by a solid lunch hour of choir practices, I was out the school door with daughters in tow for the West Prince Music Festival. I had devoted my own dinner hour to the four school choirs, so I had little time to eat, clean up, do hair and practice with my own two girls before we were on our way to O’Leary. I had not allowed myself TOO much time (as that wouldn’t be like me AT ALL!), but I hadn’t left myself entirely to the last minute either. When we arrived, I was only 5 minutes behind schedule according to my calculations.
So you can imagine my surprise when, as we walked in the door, I heard my youngest daughter’s name being called from the front. I had barely stepped inside the facility, and was still wrestling with a stack of papers, my purse, a dripping wet coat and swinging water bottle when I saw my two daughters rushing to the front of the auditorium, with one of them making her way to the grand piano on stage, front and center.
I was myself in a daze, wondering how things had moved so quickly along that we were already at the time the youngest was to play. How could I have miscalculated the times so poorly? Then again…
To make matters worse- all manner of things was running through my head. I realized that the daughter that had been rushed on stage was also the one performing on stage for the first time. She was the one who gets embarrassed more easily of the two and she is the one most likely to be rattled by such an incident. So, with all these thoughts bouncing around in my head, I started up the aisle toward my daughter, who was now sitting at the piano so as to play her piece. You can imagine both our surprise when it was announced that actually, she WASN’T to play right then: that they had only called her name because they were just checking to see if she was there.
It was a courtesy call, so to speak.
This might be a minor incident in any other child’s life, but for the One of whom I write, it was horrifying. We sat down in our seat to wait the half an hour until she would officially play, but the damage was already done. She was mortified and began quietly sobbing into her sweater. I could think of nothing else to say but to murmur over and over again that is was okay, it was okay. And to hold her tight as I wracked my brain for the ‘right’ words to say.
For her, quite honestly, it wasn’t okay. She had been publicly embarrassed and this was not something she could easily overcome.
We eventually left the sanctuary and found a quiet place to talk about the experience. She shared her feelings and I tried to console her. Eventually, another mother came along and tried to convey the insignificance of such a minor mistake (that is, getting up on stage when it wasn’t your turn) while I nodded my head in affirming ways. My daughter wasn’t really buying it.
Eventually, we returned to the festivities. Only to find two other girls crying: one who had made a few mistakes in her piece and another quite possibly fraught with nerves. It was an interesting place to be for a while, and as a bystander, my heart went out to all the performers who are so very brave and valiant to take their music to the stage in such a public arena. It takes courage to perform in front of an audience.
All in all, my daughter was able to learn the protocols for performance on stage (unfortunately, through trial and error) but also she was able to see that she was not the only one going through a ‘moment’ this afternoon. These learning experiences are just part of discovery and growth, and they need not make us feel inadequate, incompetent or lacking in any way. Life goes on, as does the show- and we live and learn both through our mistakes as well as through our triumphs.
She ended up performing amazingly well. I was so proud of her and she was proud of herself. We worked through the awkwardness of the preliminaries and when we got to the performance, she was feeling relaxed and ready to go. When I asked her tonight if she would ever do this again, she responded with a yes.
Even if she doesn’t, I am glad that she was able to learn/confirm something about herself today that might not have been completely clear in her mind: that she is one resilient little gal. Made her mama proud.
And a pretty darn good piano player to boot! Did I mention…TWO GOLD STARS!!!!

I am a both a Mom and a teacher

Last week, I was reading a couple of blogs I follow regularly.  On both blogs, the women who write for them were raising important awareness around standardized testing, accompanied by its pros and cons.  Both women supported a parent’s right to choose whether or not their child should be tested, and in the conversation that followed the discussion, many parents applauded the teachers for investing in their children in spite of the pressures placed on them to raise academic bars for financial school gain.  Many commenters said that they felt people should be thanking teachers for all they do to care for the children in spite of the stress inherent to a system that is often wrapped up in dollars and cents. Systems are often more concerned with gain and profit than they are with people.

But that descriptor doesn’t accurately define any teacher I know.

With this in mind, I tried to think of the last time I wrote a letter of gratitude from a parent’s perspective to teachers.  I write a great deal from a teacher’s perspective, but often don’t allow myself the opportunity to write about educational issues from a parent’s perspective.  Perhaps this is due to the often unwritten rule that being a teacher negates me from any form of open criticism of the system (I could lose my job), any type of public comment that would expose (teachers must honor internal allegiances and loyalties) as well as (apparently) offering up any type of applause (that would come across as if I was patting myself on the back).

Case in point.  Last week, after reading comments on those two blogs, I decided that because I am a parent, and because I was reading parenting-type blogs- along with the fact that I have a vested interest in my children’s education, that I would assume the identity of a ‘parent’ and thus write a letter to teachers on behalf of parents.

I thought I could do so by virtue of the fact that I am a mother to four children, as well as due to the fact that I buy my four kiddos’ school clothes, book bags, lunch-boxes, sneakers, school supplies, coats and boots ALONG WITH…

* being one who attends meetings on their behalf, attends Parent-Teacher interviews and Back-To-School bar-b-q’s

* being one who listens to them and relays important information to their teachers, principal and guidance counselor; who studies with them for tests; who proofreads their papers; who practices with them their music.

*being one who tries to enhance their academic learning, intellectual work done in school, assist in their emotional development, spiritual understanding and gross motor/fine motor development as a partner with their schools

IN OTHER WORDS, by virtue of the fact that I am a mother to four children, I thought I could write a letter to teachers on behalf of parents commending and encouraging teachers for the good work they do each and every day on behalf of my children (and everyone elses’ for that matter, while I was at it!).

Apparently not.

You see, after I wrote ‘said’ letter and published it on my blog, a letter which I thought a wider audience might enjoy reading and receiving a word of encouragement from, I received a fair bit of backlash.  I had taken the blog article and published it on the Huffington Post as an open letter to teachers from parents, and the following comments are some of the feedback I received:

– “interesting. a teacher thanking herself.”

– “teacher thanks herself; now THAT says a lot about what is so wrong…”

– “The source of this “open” letter needs to be told. Otherwise it is just a bit of poorly written propaganda. And plagiarism. Doesn’t that deserve an F?”

– “Lori, how do you feel about the lack of resources for the schools when my taxes are paying for banked sick days so your colleagues can be paid full salary and benefits to stay home, I would say all those volunteer hours are actually paid for whether or not the teacher actually gets it immediately or is simply deferred and paid out under the current system when you cash in.”

– “Lori Gard That’s terrific. However, it (being a teacher who is also a parent?) is not a universal applicable to all teachers.”

So this is what I am thinking.  Parents who are teachers are only apparently allowed to be teachers or parents– but seemingly cannot be both simultaneously.

Which is very hard.

This reminds me of my kindergarten students a few years back who found it very hard to believe that I didn’t sleep at school.  Are adults also having a hard time imagining teachers living and functioning outside the four square walls in which they do their work?  So it seems.  I can be a teacher.  I can be a mom.  But I cannot mix the two.  For if I do, there is some kind of perceptual dissonance that seems to occur.

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding teachers who try to pretend that they might have opinions, thoughts, feelings, questions and concerns about education that fall outside their professional milieu and overlap other areas of their being and person-hood.  And for some reason, when these thoughts and feelings are expressed in a positive way (so as to promote something good), they are not viewed as a pure form of gratitude but are suspect as being plagarism and propaganda.

I am having a really hard time with this.

Dear Teachers (From All the Parents)

Dear Teachers,

It’s April.

We parents are hardly able to clasp the few shards of fading sanity remaining from Spring Break (as they slip nimbly from our hands into the oblivion of another work week). So we can hardly imagine how other adult human beings around the country are faring out. (Can I get a witness?)

Spring this year feels like a continuous week of non-stop Mondays- no thanks to the mountains of shard-like snowdrifts left in our backyards still covering swing-sets, clotheslines and anything else less than six feet in stature. It is no wonder we are all feeling the challenge of the April Blues.  What with the lagging seasonal change, the joys of flooding (spring thaw), the onslaught of standardized testing now in full-gear (provincial assessments), political elections underway (at least in certain areas such as our own P.E.I), along with the general chaos, craziness and confusion of everyday living- added to that joyous of all emotions, end-of-school- year exhaustion- IT’S NO WONDER WE ARE ALL LOSING OUR MARBLES.

We can hardly believe the school year is quickly coming to a close.

And with that in mind, we are sure that you teachers need no reminder why you do this good, good work of teaching and advocating for our children (while we mop ground water out of our basements and pray desperately for sunshine). We know it is innately in you all to CARE and STRIVE for our kiddos. We KNOW you want to be there for our children.

It’s just what you do.

But we also realize that this last mile toward the finish line is a treacherous one. There are numerous pitfalls and potholes in the road. There is the weariness of traveling to contend with. The fatigue of long hours. The arduous work of putting one foot in front of another. The pain of injury and harm that is accrued along the way. This journey is not for the faint of heart. And we are all too aware of the reality that travelers can so easily drop out of the journey when faced with these and other taxing obstacles.

This is the reality of the work you teachers do.

Let me be the first to say: “You can do this, teachers.”

Your journey is long and hard and tough and fraught with hazards and risk, but it is worthwhile. Not looking to the peril, your focus is ever on the children and what they can accomplish. Your eyes are continually on the possibility and potential- not focused on the pitfalls. And you teachers know in your caring hearts that it’s the students that matter- not the test scores or the assessments results or the glowing progress reports. It’s the kids that matter.

And this is a truth you remind us all to remember, each and every time you are working your magic with our children.

We know you believe that the students are why you are there.
Your acts of kindness do not fall by the wayside unnoticed.

Whether it be the extra hours you put in at recess.
The special little things you do to make learning fun.
The hours and hours you spend writing notes and making phone calls.
The little smiles you share when you see your “kids” out and about in the community.
Whether it be the food you so generously share at recess.
Or the special little gifts you buy for them ‘just because’.

We know you do it not for accolades or attention: you do it all because you CARE.

Teachers, you make learning happen all while you under-gird this quest for emotional and academic growth with a spirit of love and concern.  You make magic happen every day in your classrooms- even for small moments, so teachers we want to tell you: we know why you do your work. You do it for our children.

For all you do.
For all you are.
For all you help our children to grow and become.
Thank you.

We can’t ever say enough how much we value your place in our children’s lives.

And one more thing. We know that there is still the very genuine reality that tomorrow is another day with more hurdles to jump, puddles to slosh through and mountains to climb- there is much, much more legwork to be accomplished on your journey. Forty-four days worth of legwork, to be precise.

Hang in there, comrade. We ‘got your back’.
Love,

All The Parents

Kindness

Kindness halts me. Silences me. Takes away all the words that come easy. Not that kindness is a robber, a thief- but that it is just so stunning and brilliant and overwhelming that I don’t always know quite what to do when I encounter it. Kindness shines and brightens. It is light radiating in dark places, revealing beauty in brokenness. Kindness has that kind of impact.

It makes the mundane sparkle.

Are we living in an era bereft of kindness?  A time in history exhibiting a deficit of kindness- so that when it does appear, it affects us deeply; so much so that we are impacted- forever changed? Is it that we hardly recognize it anymore? Or is kindness everywhere- we just need the capacity of heart to understand it? But why, when we do encounter it, does it leave us stunned- quite breathless? Overcome? Kindness puts us in sensory overload. For when kindness illuminates the dark corners of our lives, shining its penetrating light: we are temporarily blinded. Bound. Touched. Healed. Moved. Freed. It has that kind of transforming power.

And sometimes we just cannot know even the extent that kindnesses we have offered have touched another life. Sometimes it is impossible to follow the path of kindness. For one random act can lead to another to another to another, leading to kindnesses being carried out in far-flung places, the likes of which, you never imagined your one small act would ever begin to have a connection.

One act done in kindness is all it takes.

The story does not reveal to us who he is- he is just a guy that decided to act on the kindness that was already inside his heart. He saw her there by the subway entrance and he asked her how much her roses were. She replied that they were a dollar each and that she would sell a dozen for eleven dollars. He asked her how many she had and she answered there were one hundred and forty. So he handed her that same amount in cash and told her to give the roses away. To give them for free that day.

He bought an entire collection of roses from one woman with the single purpose of showing kindness. And that one woman was then able to give kindness to one hundred and forty different people in the form of beautiful roses. Who knows where the ripples of goodness ended up from there. All because of a single act of kindness shown to her.

All because of kindness.

Let the Children Play

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When he gets frustrated, he uses the puppets to talk out his feelings. We role play, he and I. This is not time for academics, paper and pencil. This is pure, unadulterated imagination. He needs it; oh, how he needs this opportunity to freely play. Unstructured. Liberated from the confines of classroom protocol, even if but for mere moments. He talks to me with his hands, showing me that he needs this time to unwind. To imagine. To portray. And I am listening carefully, reading in between the blurred lines, so as to understand all the reasons why this matters so very much.

A while back, another one used to wander the hallways. He never seemed to have a sense of commitment to any one room, any one place. Flitting here and there, we would find him where he was least expected. Now he spends that time that he formerly used to wander, playing. He pretends that he is a ‘cop’ or a salesman. He makes intricate creations out of chain links. He reads books and plays office. He loves to imagine, and his teachers report that the behaviours that were formerly front and center have vanished. Could it be because of play?

These little people, young learners: they crave the time allotted for play. The boys do especially, but certainly the girls too. Each day, when that time comes- when that hour arrives: they relish it like it is their last supper. When playtime is over, they ask, “It is over so soon? It’s already done?” It seems unbelievable to them that their beloved Centers have now ended- as it appears to them that play only had just begun. That’s how it is with playful learning, how it is with inquiry-based learning: time passes along and you don’t even know where it has gone.
Play is just that subtle and unobtrusive in scope, yet vital and necessary in its impact to really make the difference between children doing well and children doing poorly.

According to Christina Hoff Sommers of Time magazine,

“Prolonged confinement in classrooms diminishes children’s concentration and leads to squirming and restlessness. And boys appear to be more seriously affected by recess deprivation than girls. “Parents should be aware,” warn two university researchers, “that classroom organization may be responsible for their sons’ inattention and fidgeting and that breaks may be a better remedy than Ritalin.”

Angela Hanscom writing for the TimberNook blog says,

“Fidgeting is a real problem. It is a strong indicator that children are not getting enough movement throughout the day. We need to fix the underlying issue. Recess times need to be extended and kids should be playing outside as soon as they get home from school. Twenty minutes of movement a day is not enough! They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.”

According to a document drawn up for the Canadian Council on Learning by Early Childhood Education Program Chair, Par Jane Hewes, play is undervalued and all children’s opportunities for free play are under threat (both for the boys as well as the girls). She says:

In recent years, the trend has been to introduce more content via direct instruction into the practice of early-
childhood professionals. Research demonstrates that this approach, while promising in the short term, does not
sustain long-term benefits and, in fact, has a negative impact on some young children.17 Long uninterrupted
blocks of time for children to play – by themselves and with peers, indoors and outdoors – are becoming increasingly rare.  The developmental literature is clear: play stimulates physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development
in the early years. Children need time, space, materials,and the support of informed parents and thoughtful,
skilled early-childhood educators in order to become “master players.”18 They need time to play for the sake
of playing.

She goes on to add the following:

There are unique and fundamental developmental benefits that derive from spontaneous free
play. The child’s experience of intrinsic motivation in play is fundamental to successful life-long learning. Play is a valid learning experience in and of itself – albeit one that has been difficult to justify and sustain in formal educational settings.

I don’t know the all the reasons for why kids are finding school to be a place they feel lost. But I can imagine that if I were a child, I would probably not be able to get through my day without a diversion of some sort. Some kind of escape that could whisk me away from reality even if only for a moment or two. That’s why teens and adults love social media so much- it is our chance to play. We all need an outlet in our life, and for most of us, we find that relief from the busyness of life and reality through play, whatever ideal that particular form of play conforms to.

After all:

“Young children learn the most important things not by being told but by constructing knowledge for themselves in interaction with the physical world and with other children – and the way they do this is by playing.”
Source: Jones, E., & Reynolds, G. (1992).
The play’s the
thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play, p. 1

With this in mind, can’t we just let the children play?

Wonderings {on gratitude}

What would our prayers be like if we focused them around the things, people and situations in our lives for which we didn’t feel overly grateful? Thanking God for the things we’d sooner we DIDN’T have…rather than asking Him for things we DON’T have and want/desire.

I wonder.

Would we then appreciate more the difficulty and trouble we see as obstacles in our lives, viewing these instead as blessings in disguise? Would it make us more grateful? More appreciative? Would we realize that these difficulties are things that make us and shape us into beautiful people, stretching our hearts so that they can hold more love?

I wonder.

Would that gratitude that was grown and cultivated cause us to give more love? To be love to those around us- even to the ones we are ungrateful for? I truly wonder.

What would happen if we were grateful for things like the following:

Snow and other weather related annoyances
Dirt and mud and soggy grass
Messes (both large and small)
Chores
Work/employment/jobs
Inconveniences (make this one personal)
People who rub us the wrong way
Mundane activities (you name one)
People who offend us
People who challenge us
Financial issues
Health and its challenges
Marriage and its complexity
Relationships and their intricacy
Pain and its hardship
Loss and sorrow

What if the pain in our lives was there to teach us gratitude and how to offer words of thanks for each and every moment we’ve been given…as if everything we’d been given was a gift? For is it not?

We are owed nothing. We come into this world naked. We leave the same way. What happens in between is ours to use as an offering of gratitude, as we can. As we are able. So that we can grow in grace and understanding. So that we can grow in compassion and empathy. So that we can reach out to people in our circles of influence and show those people care. Trouble is here in our lives so as to move us toward something. Might it move us to love? Move us closer toward the Author of gratitude Himself?

Might it cause us to be a grateful people?
Making us mindful of who we are, what we have and what we can give as an outpouring of our gratitude.

Might it open our eyes to a whole new way of living?

“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

And echoing these beautiful words, I say: I want to be grateful.

For today, for all my tomorrows and for each day that leads towards always, even after that.

An Open Letter to an Island Politician

image retrieved from http://www.cafepress.ca

Dear Politician Who Says You Were Never challenged in School,

It’s election time again. With that being said, I heard your address to a large group of parents at a Home and School forum recently.

And I happened to catch you saying that you had not been challenged enough in school- that school had always come easy for you. Heard you saying, in a round-about way, that you wished that you had been given a higher bar to reach to. You repeatedly stated that school came easy to you, required little effort; stated also that your experience in school had not met your high expectations. You added that you wished for more opportunity for your own children to increase their proficiency in logic and analytical skills using chess clubs and the like. These are lofty goals, particularly for some children. Perhaps not for yours, if they follow in your footsteps.

As I listened in, I couldn’t help but think that you are one of the few that leave the school system unchallenged, and I want to give you a few things to think about that might possibly help you re-invision your formative years.

Whether or not children are academically challenged, there are certainly challenges that arise whilst children are in the care of the school system. One of the first challenges that arises concerns social manoeuvring. Starting with that first of all experiences on the bus, right on through to which side of the locker your coat will hang on and whom you will play with at recess, social development poses both rewards and challenges for many students. Learning opportunities abound. Part of the learning students endeavor to do in school has to do with learning the ropes when it comes to making and keeping friends, learning how to get along, how to solve problems, how to stand up for yourself, how to develop a healthy self-image, how to exhibit confidence, how to manage conflict, how to deal with bullying, how to learn empathy and the list goes on. From the time students come to school, they engage in social interactions and the learning never stops. Often the reason students have interference with their academic learning is due to the high priority that friendship, relationships and social encounters play in the lives of students. For good reason: if there is trouble on the social front, it is pretty hard for a kid to concentrate on the academic front.

Students are also coming to school so as to develop their personhood- and this type of learning begins at birth. From the time they first discover that they have a fist and tiny fingers that they can plunge into their infant mouths so as to self-soothe, to the day that a child babbles and then speaks their first words, children are learning their place in the world and how they matter. Students come to school having experienced many different aspects of life. Many children have already known what it is to lose a loved one- a family member or pet, even at the very young age of 4 or 5. Children know what it is to experience the separation and divorce of a parent, the impact that cancer or other terminal illness can have on a life. Some children know first-hand the challenge of mental illness, having dealt with it personally. Many children come from impoverished family situations, knowing the reality of what hunger truly means. Which goes to show: children come to school with all sorts of complex, complicated intervening variables that contribute to the learning that takes place at school. Some live with anxiety and fear. Some come with reluctance and tension. Some come angry. Some come sad. There is much strain and stress that children are under, and children from all walks of life are impacted by such. No one is immune to the pain of life.

While children come to terms with the reality of the life they are living, they are also learning how to deal with these realities in hopefully healthy ways. While in the care of the school system, they are given opportunity to develop resiliency, authenticity, confidence, and self-awareness. They are given the opportunity to be enabled, so that they can come to see who they are and who the people around them are as well. This process can be a smooth one for some kids, and can be a very difficult, challenging one for others. For some children- even as young as 5 and 6 years old, they can begin to compare themselves against the others around them, and their negative self-image can start around a little seed of doubt: “I am not as pretty as X.” “I am not as smart as Y.” “Z has more (fill-in the-blank) than I do.” These little niggling fears can lead children to compare on more specific subjects: “I am not as good in French as X.” “I got lower marks than Y on that last test.” “I must be stupid- Z always finishes first and I am always last.”

Learning to become who they were meant to be is probably the biggest learning endeavor that a child will embark on while in elementary and secondary school. Certainly it poses both challenges and rewards for the learner. And while I would never say that the school system can take credit for all the learning that takes place around this aspect of child development, I will say that teachers spend most of the daylight hours with students; if there are issues to be explored and concerns to be addressed, they often come into the light of day within the school day. If a child is afraid, that child will in one way or another convey that message to someone who cares. If a child is feeling at risk, this feeling will surface somewhere along the line. Teachers get well-versed in how to pick out differences in body language and behaviours so as to help students who are dealing with challenges- both those that have risen prior to the school day as well as those that come as a result of the school day.

Along with the learning that comes as part and parcel of social development and personal growth, there is the very real challenge of how to meet students academically. You seemed to say in your address that you were not academically challenged in school, as if to say that this is the most important area of learning endeavored in school. While I agree that academics are the most privileged learning in schools, I also hold that life is also about more than just intelligence development. The very real learning and growth that takes place in school includes emotional development, physical development, spiritual development, character development, along with learning for social justice and citizenry. While school supports many types of learning, I do see that academic learning weighs in heaviest within the minds of the public, when school is discussed. Of course, any well-meaning teacher is going to strive to impart a love of learning to their students, one area of which is content mastery. One aspect of care-giving certainly concerns the ability to exhibit care for the world around us and then strive to impart understanding about that world as much as is humanly possible, using the arts and science, literacy and numeracy, technology and creative and collaborative instruments so as to engage learning and knowledge. We want students to be critical thinkers. To use good judgment. To be fair, just citizens of the world. We learn partly how to do this through our standard curriculum.

But we learn the other part of this through the hidden curriculum. Those life lessons that occur in-between the content mastery and the teachable moments. Consider some areas of opportunities for learning…

Learning how to appreciate difference- classrooms with students of varying abilities and strengths can all contribute to the learning that happens in such a classroom.
Learning for social justice- again, classrooms with varying socio-economic statuses, cultural backgrounds, beliefs systems and diversity can be rich sites for such understandings.
Learning for conservation- modern classrooms are the ideal site for theories to be tested, experiments to be conducted and ideas to be generated.
Learning how to be empathic- we have a program called The Roots of Empathy that invites a mother and her baby into elementary classrooms so as to grow feelings of empathy amongst students. When we talk about why this is important, other learning opportunities can also take place.
Learning how to be kind- there is endless opportunity to learn the trait of kindness. In our school, we call it ‘bucket-filling’ and it has become part of the language and culture of our school. Being kind is something we work on improving for the rest of our lives. School is a perfect site to learn the whys and hows for this important skill.

I would challenge you, then, to re-consider: were you unchallenged in school or were there some learning opportunities that you might have missed out on while you spent your time there? While logic and reason and analytical skills and the like are important and worthwhile things to do and learn while in school, so are learnings centered around care and compassion and kindness and justice. If you were not challenged in school, I would ask that you look back on those years and truly ask yourself:

Even though I might have been unchallenged in certain aspects, were there in other areas- some missed opportunities, if you will- for learning that might have enriched my life? Which, if I had explored them in greater detail, I might not have felt like school was such a waste of time after all?

I leave you with this story. A while back, I participated in a workshop in which each person was to describe their experiences with bullying as recollected from their childhood. One man, a tall handsome guy with great appeal and charisma, proudly told the rest of the participants that he had nothing to recall- he had never been bullied. I left that day mulling this fact over in my mind. Trying to reckon his story alongside mine, making sense of the fact that I could recall dozens and dozens of stories from my childhood in which I had experienced unkindness or bullying of varying degrees, while he could garner up none. And my final conclusion was this: I will never be glad that I was bullied. It is a painful part of my past that required many years of self-reflection and introspection- as well as time- to help me heal. However, I also am very aware of what I have learned because of what I endured throughout those years, and I believe the most important lesson about life that bullying taught me was that kindness matters. And it is so very vital in our world today. I am a better person because of the pain I experienced as a child, and I can honestly say:

I might never have learned this lesson about life had my time in school been as un-challenging as yours was.

Sincerely,

A Caring Teacher