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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Where I am Supposed to Be

     I hate Thanksgiving.  It is a deep seated hatred that goes back decades.  This week I learned some life lessons that have me rethinking my life.  For the full length details of the day, read http://principalpride.blogspot.com.  In this blog, you get the life lessons without so many details.
     I was appointed to be an assistant principal exactly a year ago.  It has been one of the hardest years of my life.  Friday was one of those days.  It was a long week.  Everyone was mad and negative energy was everywhere.  The teachers were at their breaking point, and I caught the brunt force of it all day.
     The negative energy stuck to me all weekend, but I decided it needed to change before Monday.  I made a tear-away thankfulness card with six things I am thankful for about each teacher.  I snuck in early Monday and hung them on each teacher's door.  The energy changed and people started doing nice things for each other, hugging, laughing, and celebrating.  We each make a choice about who we want to be and what we want to focus on.  That choice ripples to everyone else and affects them.  Our choices "to be" each day are powerful, even when we don't realize it.
     In a 1st grade class, a little girl was crying because the other kids accused her of peeking.  The teacher told her, "It's okay.  You are in charge of you and what you do.  The other kids are not in charge of you.  You are in charge of you."  What a powerful affirmation of self.  If I learned this as a child, the critical voices in my head might not have such a hold on me.  I might not need to be such a perfectionist to feel worthy of other people's approval.  
     The Kindergarteners were having a feast.  The teacher told them to bring a fun Thanksgiving food to share.  The kids ate Ritz crackers, fish crackers, apple slices, Teddy Grahams, and Cheese Nips.  It was the best feast I have ever attended.  I love the way they are not governed by "shoulds."
     Today we learned turkeys lived ten million years ago.  One of the boys said, "They lived with dinosaurs?  There were turkey dinosaurs?"  I will start looking for the amazingness in the ordinary.  Who knew a turkey is just the disguise for the dinosaur?
     The 4th graders were reviewing math facts, but they graphed the answers in a Thanksgiving picture.  The kids told me it was the "funnest math day ever."  The teacher laughed and said, "If I gave them the same thing as a worksheet, they would think I was the meanest teacher ever, but put it like this and they love it."  A spoonful of sugar....  I can make things better for people in the way I present it to them.  
     In 5th grade, one lone boy stood and told the class why he was a loyalist.  I was in awe of his bravery.  I know it is important to stand for what I believe, even if I stand alone, but it's another thing to do it.  His lesson today will stay with me for a long time.
     6th grade was the highlight of my day.  The teacher arranged the desks by the amount of land for each continent, so some groups had lots of desks and others only had one.  She placed students by the population represented for each continent.  It was pretty crowded in Africa.  Then she gave them a baggie with graham crackers to represent the amount of food each continent has.  Some groups had several crackers, while Africa had 1/24 of a cracker.  It was just a tiny square.  After the discussion, she told the kids they could eat their crackers.  Without being told to share, the kids all got up and walked over to the kids who didn't have enough food, pulled out their crackers, and shared with each other.  It was a beautiful moment of compassion.  I wish the world could learn from the children.  My faith in humanity was restored.
     A little first grader told me that Santa was at our school.  She had seen him fall past the classroom window.  The faith of a child gets lost sometimes in my jaded edges.  I need to build the faith that becomes reality.
     Another first grader was having a rough day and screamed for twenty minutes in the hall.  I kept trying to talk to him, reason with him, and fix it, which just made him scream louder.  The second graders were trying to practice the music for their program and stopped when they heard him screaming.  The teacher said, "No guys, sing louder."  They did.  I stopped talking and just sat on the floor next to him.  After a few minutes, he stopped crying and laid on the floor listening to the music.  Then he got up and went back into his class.  I learned that sometimes words aren't enough.  Sometimes you need to sit on the floor and just be there when the world is caving in.  I also learned that music has an incredible power to heal us.
     At the end of the day, a teacher told me, "You are in the perfect spot.  You smooth out the rough spots for all of us when we get so negative.  You bring peace and calm to our school.  We are so lucky you are here."  Another teacher told me, "Thank you for being so positive.  Without you, we'd be up a creek without a paddle."
     Since I had been wondering if I made a mistake taking this job, it reminded me that my life may not have ended up where I though it would, but it ended up where it was supposed to be.

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