On the Road to Grace and Compassion

As days go, today could be categorized as one for the “L” column in so many ways: lack of sleep, underprepared, and to top it all off, a soul-sucking workshop that ate the better portion of my afternoon.

There is no need to elaborate for the teachers.  For the laity, imagine sitting in a meeting, being told that you’re about to undergo a process that no one can actually describe to you, that everyone in the building things is a waste of time, that contains processes that will actually make your teaching less effective, and that the best guidance you can get is how to game the requirements so that they are less onerous and painful.

Sadly for teachers, this is all too familiar.  A wheel of futility for a new procedure that will change at the whim of a new legislature or fad in the educational whim.  Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.

It’s enough to get despondent, and the truth be told, I am tired.  But I keep going back to a moment in my class today that offers me a kernel of hope for tomorrow.

Students were constructing visual similes for animals, and it hit me that one of my very attentive, very industrious visually impaired students would have no way to access this problem.  And as I realized this, I also knew that I had no way to bridge that knowledge for her.  As the lunch bell rang and the class took its break, she and her friend came up to me, and I knew what they were going to ask me.

Luckily, she is easy going.  The best I had for her was, “I don’t know.  Don’t worry about it.  This is one of those things that will pass on by.”  And she was cool with that.  Moreover, she laughed and shrugged it off with better grace than I could’ve hoped for today.

I caught part of Good Will Hunting this weekend, and I keep coming back to the idea that the relationship between Shawn, the psychologist, and Will, the patient, was so powerful because Shawn was willing to let down his guard and be influenced by Will, which gave Will the license to do the same.  Often times, I worry so much about how I influence my students…and clearly all metrics, measurements, and testing bears out that this is the most important value I contribute to the world…that I forget about how much they influence me.  And through this lens, I have been truly blessed to have been influenced by many wonderful minds that have come and gone through my door, many wonderful people of diverse strengths and weaknesses.  Compassion means literally to “suffer with” and it is often when we let down our guard that we gain the most.  Thanks for the lesson, my bright and wonderful student, my bright spot in an otherwise cloudy day.

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