Paddling Perspective: Educate against hate

I push the paddle to the side and let my kayak float for a few moments to consider the real reasons why we want our schools to be the incubators of both free thought and inclusive practices. I ponder how we have expected education to get us to new places.

Bigger thoughts, new horizons, and innovative spirits, they all are the utopian goal of learning.

But here I sit in a little green boat and think why we keep pressing our educators to give our children and our aspiring minds what it seems adults absolve themselves from in mainstream society.

Do we always believe it is someone else’s responsibility to dismantle systemic woes or elevate people beyond any type of plight they may encounter? Are we all hands on deck for all learners all the time? Are we ready shift mindsets so that structural constraints can be dismantled?

Educators don’t shy away from these questions, but I wonder if society does. Perhaps we educate so a new generation carries the torch of love and life more boldly than we have.

Educators think about their work, their lesson plans, and their students so very often. We are always navigating the mine fields of untapped potential. We employ best practices so that student engagement overturns the temptation for disorder and resistance to learning.

We look in the eyes of 11 year olds and need to evidence our belief that all students can learn and succeed even if their surroundings or the stats might indicate otherwise.

We have to believe, not the unbelievable, but the unpopular.

We have to believe that relationships and nonverbals communicate as much as test scores and AP course enrollment numbers.

We need to not shy away from the data. We need to hold the student’s home life and action choices in class as just parts of the puzzle, doing our best to not let stereotypes dismiss the possibilities for the young girl in front of us.

We need to take the young man and show him worth and dignity in a land that shows up with hate and distaste to his race, national heritage, and ethnicity.

We are in the business of rewriting narratives so that divisiveness is not multiplied.

We get to believe that every minute, every tone chosen, every eye contact made is part of the pathway to our society’s freedom to hope, instead of despair.

I believe we get to educate against hate and it starts with the students in front of us. Teach on, teachers! Be ever encouraged, educators! Our work matters. Monday morning is near.

Congratulations on your Graduation!

Many of my former students are graduating these days. And whether you went to college, joined the armed services, went straight to full time work, or took a curvy path too complex to explain, this is for you–

Congratulations on your “graduation” rockstar!

Graduate FROM a chapter, not from life. Remember you have not just arrived. You have been shaped and used for years already!

Graduate FOR life, not for mere accomplishment. You climbed a hill (or three) and your mountain top is beautiful. Keep the big picture of what defines you though, not this, but rather your love and service.

Graduate TO accomplishment, not mediocrity. So many of you have learned things about excellence that took me years longer to learn. You must seek to accomplish what your gifts and skills can bring to the world around you. This is not the time to hide your talents. This is time to move like you own the dance floor.

And wherever life leads you, please remember: For all that you enjoy and for all that you must endure, know I am cheering for youI have never stopped—

Love on!
Serve on!
Rock on!

He goes with you and to Him be the glory and the journey.

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10 things you should know about your teacher (or your kid’s teacher)

 

School is in session.  Best wishes to all of you intertwined with the education system, whether student, parent, teacher, or staff!   Here’s a quick list of 10 things you should know if your teacher is anything like me or the people I have taught with.

photo by karla kantola

1. They think you rock! They have been excited to meet you!

2. They may actually enjoy going on tangents as much as you do.  School is very much academics, but it is also full of life lessons and relationships.

3. They partner with your parent(s) and guardian(s), so they will share how wonderfully you shine and may have to share when you miss the mark.

4. They want you to have your own pencil.  Everyday.

5. They think learning and sharing is fun, so don’t ask if the class will have any fun today, the answer will always be YES!

6. They are just human, they make mistakes just like you do.

7. They do want to hear about your weekend, your dog, your fears, and what makes you happy, so just pay attention to when it is okay to share those things.  They also want to know if you ever feel bullied, lonely, or lost because although they think all their students are cool, they will take extra time to encourage you if they know you are hurting!

8. They call you Mr. Matthews not because they forgot your first name was Jordan, but because it is how they chose to show you respect.  They may have other ways of showing you respect too, see if you can figure it out.

9. They consider your smile, your questions, and your willingness to help your classmates as some of the best parts of their day.  Keep it up!

10. They think you ROCK!  They look forward to seeing you in class!