You Matter in This Space

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Each day brought new challenges. Sometimes the obstacles seemed too hard to overcome. The stresses of meeting the rising demands of teaching at the time, added to the weight that she carried on her shoulders of being the authority in that classroom. Not a day went by that she did not wonder if she was equipped, skilled, and talented enough to be great at what she had chosen as a career. Teaching children and molding the minds of a new generation; a challenge in which she believed she was ill prepared for.

She was a teacher who put her best foot forward each day in spite of the daily challenges in her own world, outside of the school building. After all, she was human too.

She left the classroom every afternoon and worked to be present in other areas of her life. She balanced it all, learning every step of the way the difficulties of navigating life with many responsibilities and being prepared for the work of  educating children. But she managed to balanced it all and work endlessly to be a positive presence in every area of her life.

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Her hope was that her positive spirit would manifest itself in the classroom full of societal missteps and the plight of disadvantaged communities. Each day, she was met with a gap in the road with little to no bridge. While she was not from their world, she had been blessed to empathize with their circumstances. She had not had their experiences, but found her overwhelming compassion to do more. She did not understand the dynamics of their lives, but accepted the challenge to grow into the channel the spirit of humanity to be the positive force that they needed in their lives.

As a  teacher, she learned that through their toughness, they communicated their fears, anxious thoughts, and doubts. In their interactions with adults,  they showed their lack of trust for people. In their relationships with their peers they displayed their willingness to fight at any time; a coping mechanism developed  to survive. They did not believe what she believed and failed to see the optimism in every situation which was her mantra.

They were not privy to experiences that she had and were not always accepting of her attempts at changing their perception of the world. While they may have wanted to improve their character and respond differently to adverse situation, they did not. It took her a long while to realize that they simply did not know how. In spite of her efforts, it was a daily battle to remain in control of the day when they responded to every situation with a confrontation, carrying the negative emotional baggage on their backs. Many of them had taken on responsibilities of their world; even at their young age.

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There were some mornings when he entered the classroom talkative and cooperative; generally happy to be at school. He was liked by many and had many friends. But there were also days when he entered the room and was clearly angry, bothered by something that took place before he even entered the classroom. At those times, he was quiet and withdrawn for the better part of the day. It was clear that he was processing something that had impacted his world.  It was days like these when he fought her to be right about everything. He was defiant and disrespectful. Uncooperative and destructive. The whole day was turned upside down. On these days, she felt helpless, like she was failing as a teacher and as a partner in his connection to a bright future.

Over time, she  realized that there is nothing like seeing into the world of her students. This is how she connected. She listed. She did not judge. She cared and it was evident. One day in particular, she learned of a fight between him and another male student. When asked, he told her that the other student said something about his mother. All of my efforts at dispelling the myths that lived inside of him and the internal struggle that he was having with himself failed. He was adamant about acting in the in defense of his mother by any means necessary… He refused to allow her name or character to be defamed by anyone. While empathizing with his feeling to respond to the other students comments, she wanted him to consider responding in a different way instead of with violence. To him, words were just as harmful as sticks and stones.

She sensed a certain responsibility that a child should not have. He shared that it was indeed his responsibility to take care of her. Period. She learned that his mother struggled with setbacks and consequences associated with their environment. This was the weight he carried. To him, showing his love for her was fighting. It made him angry to hear such negative words about his mother. After running out of words to say to calm him and get him to see her point, she told him this.  Pray for his mother. She told him specifically to go home and get on his knees that night and pray for her to be better.

Her heart hurt for his tears and his unwavering love and admiration for the woman who birthed him. There was no judgement there; only the love that a son could have for his mother. The next day she returned with hope in her heart for better days for them all.

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While she was, at that time, working to support him through that moment of struggle, there were other students in her class whose behaviors fluctuated as well. Some days they were all up and there were good times to be had and other days its was one, two, three or four of them that brought their emotional weight to school and struggled to keep it under control. This caused conflict both within and outside of the classroom.

The inconsistent behavior interactions made it difficult to manage peer to peer relationships let alone teaching the skills necessary to pass a state test. But on one particular day, a glimmer of light shone for the compassion that she had for her work. This lit a spark in her life that would change the course of her work.

If there was ever a time when she felt that she was doing the most good, it was on the day that he told that he had indeed done what she had told him to do. That morning, he did not say ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’. His words were simple, “I did what you told me to do.” He had went home and prayed for his mother. At that moment working to hold back her own emotions, she knew that the work she was doing was having an impact on the lives of her students.

That day was a good day for him. It seemed as if a weight had been lifted off. If only for a moment. From then on, she know exactly how to reach him.

That teacher was me. I never imagined that I  could silence the cry of the hurt in the lives of my students. Their circumstances seemed far beyond what I had experienced and what I was capable of understanding and managing. But I realized that when you are in the right place doing what you are created to do, you will be able to access the skills needed to do the work. All I needed to do was just be willing. That was over 19 years ago. Since then, I have carried with me these experiences throughout my years of teaching. Every student needs to know that you care. As their teacher, you are a valuable part of their lifeline and the success that they dream of. You are the gateway for their future. It not just about knowledge and skill, it is about the heart and the spirit. That is how you will connect; nothing else will penetrate their world as much. Once they know that your compassion is genuine,  they will work for you, they will learn from you, they will be your biggest example and your greatest accomplishment. Know your place in this field. You matter in this space.

©️ May 2020 Inspired Serenity by Kim Seymore

https//www.inspireyouserenity.com

When Your Worst Enemy Is You

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Looking at the world around you, it’s easy to get discouraged when things fail to work out the way that you have planned. When you are still in the same place after years of hoping,

wishing, and praying for a break through, one can feel defeated. When you get to this point, it’s time to take a closer look at yourself.

The odds may be against you ever getting a promotions, owning your own business, going back to school, buying a house or a new car. It may seem impossible that you would ever find the perfect mate for you and start a family. It may look like the money will never be right for you to take that vacation you have always wanted to take. Whatever the desire, some things  will only come to pass as you look inward. Continue reading “When Your Worst Enemy Is You”

Walk In It

A model has a signature walk. Either one or both hands positioned just above her waist line or arms swinging opposite her steps, back straight and shoulders back.  Her eyes fixed on a target straight ahead, placing one foot in front of the other, while at the same time displaying an heir of remarkable confidence. Walking a smooth, straight line down the runway, only to get to the end, pose for a photo, pivot and glide back to her starting point. All this, without as much as a flinch.

What lies beneath the model’s exterior; nervousness, insecurities, anxieties? Grace and elegance shield the uncanny thought that a lack of confidence even exists beyond what we see on stage. Certainly fear has arisen at some point in time during her career. Maybe even the remnant of self-esteem issues, or possibly a lack of confidence in her performance.

Could it be possible that she is unsure of herself, taking on the runway in front a crowd of hundreds, thousands even? Had she experienced days when she just did not want to do it? Had she ever thought of herself as less than, not as experienced nor as valuable as the next model? Maybe so, but when she walked the runway, could you tell?

In order to walk in the greatness that is you, you have to set some precedence in your life:

  • Commune with God
  • Know who you are and embrace the beauty that is you
  • Define who you are before someone does it for you
  • Believe within yourself that you are valuable
  • Have faith that you can accomplish anything you desire
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Be reminded of your achievements daily
  • Count your blessings morning, noon, and night
  • Strive to be excellent at everything you do
  • Remove yourself from negativity
  • Make your own choices
  • Do what you love and participate in what brings you joy
  • Create your own sanctuary of peace
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Engage in relationships that add to your life

You must be believable to yourself first before anyone else will take you seriously. Walk in it! When you enter a room, hold your head up, shoulders back, and walk with a purpose. Show your confidence with each step. Regardless of whose path you come across, keep your center and do not waver from who you are. Refuse to give in to the pressure or the notion that you have to be someone you are not. Remember you know who you are; no one needs to tell you.

Hold conversations allowing yourself to voice your opinion, without worry. Speak boldly and confidently knowing that you too have something to say. Your voice matters. Do not allow the judgment of others to become your truth but speak your own truth.

Make firm, concrete decisions. Do not waver in uncertainty but with careful forethought leaving nothing to chance. You decide: your present, your future, your life.

Find fulfillment in every aspect of your life. Live your life, live your creed. Walk in it!

TEACH

Malloy turned off her alarm. It was 5:30 a.m. and she had much to do in a short amount of time. After her daily devotion, she dressed and prepared breakfast for her children. At that moment a flood of thoughts crowded her mind. “Do I have enough copies of that worksheet for every student? What time am I supposed to take my students to the auditorium this morning? When will I find time to call that parent back?”

Back to the task at hand, Malloy gathered her thoughts and awoke her own children to prepare them for school. Her chatty little girl began asking questions one after another as soon as her eyes opened. Her son, who was older, just grunted and lagged behind as the clock ticked.

Before she knew it, time had passed. Walking briskly through the house, Malloy rattled off things she needed to take to the car: “…lunch, laptop, revised lesson plans, textbook, school bag, purse…” Is that it? Mallory had hoped so as she would now just have enough time to drop her daughter off at daycare, her son off at school and get to her own school before the clock in time of 7:45 a.m.

Driving down the freeway, Malloy managed to answer her daughter’s continued barrage of questions, pull information from her son about the due date of his Science Fair Project, while at the same time entertaining more thoughts of the lesson she would teach to her students today. She would be introducing a new skill and wanted to make sure that all of her students grasped the concept.

After hugs and kisses to her children, a promise to take them out for pizza tonight, and a quick trip down the road, Malloy arrived at 7:44 a.m. Inside of her classroom, she had 30 minutes to prepare her room for her first period class. Closing her door and sitting her things down, Malloy started her routine. She sat at her desk and prayed silently for the success of the day. It was her honest intent that each child would learn something each day and that they would leave her classroom not having wasted a second of their time. Malloy valued the education of her students just as much as she did for her own children and held the same set of high expectations.

The day passed quickly as they always did. Malloy worked hard to be excellent at what she felt she was called to do. From the morning tardy bell, to lunch, to standing outside on duty as her students got on the bus, Malloy did not waver though tired as she was. Despite the obstacles, interruptions, and setbacks during the day, Malloy managed to get through much of her lesson and set the precedence for the following day.

Back in her classroom, Malloy sat in her chair, took a deep breath and reflected on her day. She had to admit that she became a bit frustrated as she worked to adapt to the unexpected changes in the school day.

  • The announcements were late and interrupted her instruction, but witnessing the joy in the room when students heard their names called out for honor roll made it all worth it.
  • While teaching, Malloy learned she was 10 copies short of a worksheet but used the opportunity for students to collaborate instead of work independently.
  • The Drug Free Assembly ran longer than expected, but since the community surrounding the school has a known drug problem, it was necessary for the students to attend.
  • Despite her efforts to incorporate additional activities, a few of Malloy’s students struggled with the lesson so she would have to go back to the drawing board as it was unacceptable for her to leave any student behind.

As long as she had been teaching, the plans she had worked so hard to create from week to week had always fizzled in some way, forcing her to regroup without so much as a blink. Perhaps that was one of the little known gifts of a teacher. Malloy had learned long ago that the ability to switch gears without missing a step is a characteristic that is as much a necessity as knowing the content which you teach.

All in all, this was one of her better days.  As always, in spite of the challenges, Malloy’s heart was filled as she worked within her true passion of teaching. After attending a lesson planning meeting, reserving the computer lab for a future lesson, checking out a few books from the library, and conferencing with a parent, she returned to her room to prepare for the next day.

Malloy had just under 45 minutes before she needed to pick up her own children. As a result of her late hours at the school, Malloy decided to take them out for pizza to spend some quality, uninterrupted time with them. Together they would plan something special for the weekend. She never wanted her own children to feel neglected.

Soft music filled her classroom as she did the following to prepare for the next day:

  1. Placed materials on each desk which students would need the following day
  2. Erased her board and wrote the items that would guide the next day’s instruction
  3. Reviewed her lesson plans
  4. Brought out the manipulatives that she would use to help her struggling students grasp the concept
  5. Put together a task sheet for the teacher assistant that would be helping her the next day.
  6. Responded to a couple of emails from administration
  7. Signed up for a training session recommended by her department chair
  8. Posted student work samples in the hallway

Finally, after pilling all of her things in her teacher bag, Malloy stood at the door facing the 30 desks that filled her classroom. She would return again the next day to pour into the lives of her students. She knew it was not only her responsibility, but her sincere calling to help instill hope into their lives. Some students are hopeful for a successful future but not all students believe that they can accomplish anything and many feel that their options are few.

Malloy wiped away a tear that had fallen as she thought of the fragile lives that God had entrusted her with, if only for a school day. At that moment, regardless of the many daily challenges that she may face within the school building, she would not let frustration set in and destroy her passion for the profession. She resigned within herself that she would remain vigilant and continue the course, honoring her promise made long ago, to listen to her heart’s desire which had always been compelled to TEACH.