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When you work with children, you learn more than you teach…
I’ve played many roles from an English teacher, Physical Education teacher, Dean of Students, Basketball coach, Director of Student Life and even self-defense instructor. Working with kids from various angles has allowed me great insight into how we actually develop from children, to teenagers, to young adults and adults. I have been blessed to learn a tremendous amount of life lessons and gain invaluable wisdom, that I try to my best to apply in my day to day life.
Today I will focus on 3 key ideas that could change your life and have certainly changed mine.
Life Lesson #1.
It is never too late or too early to re-write your autobiography.
Any English teacher, at any grade level, has the standard project assigned to their students of writing their own autobiography. This assignment is phenomenal because not only do students work on their reading and writing skills but as an educator, we learn a great deal about who our student is, was and aspires to be.
I’ve read hundreds of autobiographical stories, poems, and narratives and enjoyed them all for different reasons. One reason is the ever prevailing theme of overcoming obstacles.
Every story I’ve ever read by a student was centered around overcoming various obstacles – either in their family, environment, social and/or emotional.
What is different in each story is what that event meant to the child.
The meaning of such obstacles is the exact point where young people start to separate themselves from the pack. Already, some young people have a clearly articulated tale of victory.
Some young people might not know what to make of these events and just describe them plainly. While on the other hand, some young people, unfortunately, see these obstacles as their entire life and not as an event in their life. A critical distinction.
As we grow older, oddly enough the same is true. As adults, we like to put ourselves on a pedestal, thinking that we are much smarter and wiser than a child – but at times we carry ourselves the same way.
Think about the stories we tell in our daily communication – when we speak about our goals, our direction, our past. How we speak to ourselves, how we speak to others. How we describe the world, how we describe our world.
Are we telling a tale of victory? Do our obstacles define us?
Or, does our interpretation of the obstacles define us?
How we interpret our obstacles will determine if we go through it, go around it or even worse, become it!
Life Lesson #2.
Hold on to your fire.
As an educator, I’m able to witness students, day in and day out, run around, have fun – full of passion and fearlessness. As we get older, where do these emotions go? Why is it that as we get older, we can lose our zest for life? Is it because we are mature? Or, is it because we have become realistic? Maybe, it’s because we have bills? Or that life was simpler as a child?
If that’s true, then let us think about some people who are regarded as ‘highly successful’. Let’s say, for example, the Wright Brothers. These adults thought that they could – despite the failure of the people before them – hoist groups of people thousands of feet in the air and transport them thousands of miles. They dared to believe that they could build machines that would fly.
Even crazier, they thought people would pay to be lifted thousands of feet in the air! Now, when you look at flying from that frame of thinking, it doesn’t seem realistic at all, it seems crazy. It doesn’t seem like an everyday event, that is done thousands of times a day, routinely.
The Wright Brothers were clearly fearless and we’re NOT aiming to be ‘realistic’. If they wanted to be realistic they would have walked! If Edison wanted to be realistic we would still be burning candles for light! Did they lose their fearlessness or passion?
When we push past our fears, take risks and make a commitment to act on our passions – just like the Wright Brothers did – not only does the unrealistic become realistic, it can actually become routine!
Life Lesson #3.
Take full responsibility for your world
I have seen too many classrooms, at times including mine, that have been chaotic, loud and busy. In that same room, amongst all the noise and movement, one small group of young scholars, heads down, pen to paper, working diligently. No matter how many times I have seen this, it always just absolutely amazes me. How in the world can these kids stayed focused with all the distractions going on around them? Then, when you ask them they say, “I don’t know”. Or maybe they give you a break down, like, “Well, I’m used to it. Sara always talks back, Johny always dances during class and those 3 are always arguing. Me, Tim and Laura always sit together and get our work done.” Wow! At such an early age you are able to understand that when you focus, distractions can be managed, and managed well.
How in the world can these kids stayed focused with all the distractions going on around them? Then, when you ask them they say, “I don’t know”. Or maybe they give you a break down, like, “Well, I’m used to it. Sara always talks back, Johny always dances during class and those 3 are always arguing. Me, Tim and Laura always sit together and get our work done.” Wow! At such an early age you are able to understand that when you focus, distractions can be managed, and managed well.
When you are so focused on your goal, all you are concerned with is WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL.
They are also in the initial stages of developing their network, and are usually very selective of who they let in their circle! Very interesting lessons to be learned or re-learned! So interesting, since as adults we have the tendency to give these fancy rationales for why our circumstances are hindering our progress and productivity.
Our quality of life will be determined by the control we have over our internal world. Its not about what happens to you or around you, it’s about what happens inside of you!
Just a few of the miracles an educator is able to witness. It’s important that we never, ever lose sight of these everyday miracles.