Relationships, Connections, Compassion!
Every student is a person with unique skills, abilities and of course challenges. Unfortunately we don't always see our students, colleagues, family and friends in ways that shines light on their entirety. We see what these individuals allow us to, or we allow ourselves to see. It is incomplete, it is misleading, and it can create obstacles to fostering the meaningful, supportive relationships they need from us.
I have been struggling with finding the words for this post for some time because I have seen first hand some of the outcomes of the struggles students have been forced to deal with. I struggled with the feeling of helplessness and inadequacy to make it better for them. The conversations with some of the students facing difficult issues brought up my own person demons of being picked on and the insecurities that have resulted and shaped my life.
This post has been brewing in side me for years, but has taken me months to complete. I don't know if I will do it justice, but I need to put it out there before I allow the ideas to fade away under the mounting to do lists that fill up life. I felt compelled to write about the struggles facing kids after I was asked to be part of the video below. Unfortunately due to schedule issues, when they filmed it, I wasn't able to be in the final video. I am however honored to have been asked by students.
I have had many of the students in the video in class, and have seen in most cases students being accepting, kind, and generous to other students. I also witness students not being able to see other's point of view and being intolerant of others. I struggle knowing that students have to deal with issues of acceptance, discrimination, bullying to the extent that they feel isolated and in some cases powerless. Students have confided in me personal experiences that as a human being I just want to hold them and tell them everything is going to be okay, but I can't make that promise. They walk the halls and have to deal with their peers who don't all accept their ideas, or values. They go home and have to deal with parents and family situations that would test the resolve of any adult to cope and function. I will not share specifics, but the experiences some of my students have had makes me feel helpless and angry and frustrated and scared for what my own children will endure as they progress not only through school but through life.
At the end of the year our superintendent discussed this video saying he was receiving calls from colleagues asking about this rogue video. My first thought was did they watch it? Did they listen to the words? Why would they think this was anything potentially damaging to a school? Now maybe it's because I don't get those kinds of calls or deal with issues that administrators face that I don't understand, but I see this video as a statement of empowerment. It isn't a statement attacking a school, but rather addressing social issues that aren't unique to my high school.
It took courage for these students to stand up and voice their concerns, issues, and share it for the world to see. They are brave, strong, resilient, young people who deserve respect. They are an inspiration to me because they had the courage to do something I never could. They stood up for themselves, they used their voice to call out those who hurt them and they have made it okay for others to follow suit. I hope you take their message for what it is, a call to action for all of us. Be the Change, create a compassionate, caring, safe environment for our children. Be the refuge from the storm that can erupt in their lives. Build the relationship to show them they matter! I too need to step up and live up to these principles, because they need us!