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What is my end game?

on October 25, 2014

Psalm 145:8

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy.

I have been encouraged for a long time to write a blog post.  I have enjoyed reading my colleagues blogs, it gives me an insight into what they are thinking.  I believe in reflecting on my practice but those who know me best know that I am a verbal processor.  The more passionate I am, the louder I become.  It is difficult to be loud on a blog but here goes!

Shelley nominated me for a blog challenge.  Blog every day for thirty days. I took the challenge but have not made one entry, until today!  I have had lots of ideas swimming in my head but was unsure what I wanted my message to be.  Day one, what are your goals for this school year? Lots!  How can I narrow it down to a simple vision that I can stand by and why can’t everyone just see what I see!

I find myself frustrated when things I think are obvious and others do not see it. I have been preaching for years that we need to build relationships with kids!  I believe that with every bit of my being.  Kids need to know that we accept them for who they are and love them anyway.  It is what we all want, right?

I love a challenge, those students who challenge me back are the reason that I go to work everyday.  The “difficult” child that causes all the issues in the classroom are among my favourites. My goal is always to see them grow and improve.(and to get them out of my office! lol) Those who work closes to me will often here me say, when the complaints come, “you will not believe what he did today … “  I know but I love him and he is one of my favourites, or he makes me laugh so I had to bite my lip.  It comes easy to me, and I really do enjoy those challenging kids. The key is seeing the good in them and building on that.

But what’s the point, to what end?, what is my purpose?, am I really making a difference?  I was affirmed this week that I was making a difference, even if it was with only one student. I was meeting with Shelley and a group of students came in to share notes on the virtue of the month, Compassion. They gave both of us letters about how we show Compassion.

One in particular really struck a cord and brought a tear to my eye. It was written on a torn piece of paper and folded up and he did not want to make eye contact.  You know he has an image to uphold!  He WAS the boy in your class that is always in trouble.  His mission in life was to make all who cross him pay.  He had a  sense of justice, an eye for an eye.

When I first came to St. Kateri he took up permit residence in my office.  We had many arguments as to why he was justified for hitting someone or saying something mean to someone.  How dare I ask him to apologize for his behaviour?  He had an image to uphold and I was not going to change him.  He told me so many times.  The key I am not giving up on you!  I care too much. Oh and you are one of my favourites!  Which I told him often.

These kids in our classes, I know we can all think of ones that are similar, become easy scape goats.  They are always doing something that is appalling and mean.  I know that I have been accused of being too soft on these types of kids.  But what is our end game?  To grow and improve them, all of them!  What I do is very simple, I listen, even when they are wrong!  And a lot of the time they are wrong but sometimes they are not.  That is when you really gain their trust and they begin to realize you will fight for them; you actually care. 

I remember one day in particular when he was rude to a teacher.  He had no choice, he needed to apologize.  He decided to dig his heals in, as he did many times before. And we started one of our many debates. He had tons of reasons as to why he does not need to apologize. She was rude to him, he had good reason for being rude, she wouldn’t listen to him and the battle continued.  In the end he apologized, not because he meant it but because I asked.  It was not heartfelt, or really that meaningful but he did it.  I took it as success.  Little by little I could seem the walls breaking down.  I heard his name less and less.  By the end of my second year at St. Kateri he was rarely in my office. I had won!  But did I make a difference?  Did he realize that I really did care about him and wanted what was best for him. Or was he getting better at not getting caught:)

I was affirmed this week with a crumpled up note that he was embarrassed to give me.  And it said: ” Mrs Boylan you show compassion by giving second chances.”  Truth be told I gave him a hundred chances! But he got it.  He knew that I cared and wanted what was best for him.  I will always listen to his side of the story. He is still the same mischievous boy with a few rough edges smoothed over.

He still visits me in my office but not because he is in trouble; he there to tease me, asks for help or just for a visit. I will treasure this note forever, it is why we do what we do!   What is my goal for this school year?  That we accept each and every student for who they are, grow them to be the best version of themselves and take the time to listen to them; you never know what you might learn that will change your path.

I will end with words Shelley wrote to me at the end of last year: “You have affirmed my belief in the power of relationships and that students come first, everyday!” I love how you are with kids, Shelley and your passion for this job, we are a great team.   Thank-you for seeing the best of me and looking past the rough edges!

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