As many of you might be aware I focus a lot on the issue of #resilience development, its importance as a personal skill for all, as an essential asset for our students, and as a trait that can be nurtured in each of us.
Well, I heard a story of a student at one of the elementary schools in my district, who, a few days ago was identified by a teacher as simply sitting alone during the day, when he should have been in class engaged in a learning opportunity. She explained that this boy appeared to be seemingly lost in personal thought, and possibly in need of a friendly smile or kind interaction. The teacher sharing this story with me said that she was drawn to this young boy to check on his welfare.
She shared that once she said “Hi” to him, he seemed to be generally fine, and though indeed, he was lost in thought, he came around after this brief interaction. He re-entered the learning environment, and this simple action changed the direction of his day. He readily accepted the friendly gesture, re-engaged in the lesson at hand, and enjoyed the remainder of his school day.
You might ask, what’s so special about that? Well, in my work as a school psychologist, as site administrator, and even as an administrator in Human Resources, I often try to focus on the little things that might go unnoticed in our day-to-day activities with children and with each other, and I seek to positively impact those little things to make a stronger impact on the big things.
What I noticed about this simple story was that the teacher telling me this story took notice. She noticed a boy, seeming lost to his thoughts when he should have been engaged in his class and learning opportunity. She noticed that he needed a kind, reassuring, guiding voice, to re-engage him in his learning environment, and she took action, and he responded. She noticed that a child, a human being, had removed himself from his opportunity to learn, place where he could advance his knowledge, participate with his peers, and have an opportunity to change his life, and she knew that she needed to make a difference for him. She didn’t wait for him to care before interceding, she took action!
Let me return to the story for a moment. At the end of that day, the boy was participating in class, connecting with other students, and even hugged this teacher prior to leaving for the day. A simple interaction by a teacher brought about a significant change to a situation where a student had removed himself from his learning environment. Indeed, this story could have gone so differently. If the teacher might have judged this child, took his detachment personally, or felt that some form of punishment was needed to “get his attention” this situation could have been escalated quickly, could have deteriorated this boy’s thoughts about education, and possibly confirmed for him that people don’t care. Again, it could have gone badly.
A few days ago I went by the school to meet this young man. I talked to him about his #resilience. I asked him about the other day, and he remembered. I shared with him that I thought that he had the power to make positive choices each day, and that he truly demonstrated resilience that day by returning to class, by participating, by taking hold of his own education, and that I believed that he has the ability to build on his success. I asked him if I could check in on him next month, and he said, “Sure.”
I share this story with you because I see it as a significant reminder that no matter where we work, no matter what our formal job or position is, that we can all work as individuals to positively impact our students every day. Whether it’s through a kind, reassuring, guiding voice, whether it’s by providing the most engaging lessons and instruction that we can each day, or even if it’s safely driving our students to and from schools if we are a bus driver, we can all positively impact our students. We can all afford a smile, a kind word, a positive engagement moment, or even simply by lending an ear to a child. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be #kind, #compassionate, #empathetic, and to make a connection. In fact, it cost nothing at all, except for your time and energy to do so.
I challenge you to take advantage of each moment that you have with children/students and let’s strive to make a connection with them whenever possible. I implore you to let children know that you care, and that you are there to assist them in building their personal skills and assets, especially their #resilience.
Each Day an Opportunity to #Inspire!
Dr. Rob Martinez is the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, and is known as @ResiliencyGuy on @twitter He strives to build the capacities of his employees in fostering #resilience across his District. Follow Dr. Rob at @ResiliencyGuy on #twitter and #intagram, and on Facebook at “Resiliency Guy”