Bird Droppings May 18, 2010
Try and Care
With school nearly over for the summer it is like years past over the past few weeks numerous former students come by and visit my room. Many times as kids get home from college, former students and non-students who would spend time in my class room over the years holding Stevie the wonder snake or asking questions about various animals in my room stop by to check on favorite animals or ask me to take pictures of their weddings and or babies. Two days ago a little girl now a mom and future pre-med student came by. I recall a few days before a former model in New York City now studying to be a bakery chef emailed and as I sit and think how powerful are we as teachers. Whether a student accepts what we say or not we are a direct influence on students.
Do we impact them positively or negatively is a big question I ask daily as I carry on and get students to think and ponder. I wonder do they learn or simply take up space.
“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein
I have used this quote in several presentations in graduate school and recently a similar line was used by a presenter to the entire teaching staff of the county. We do have a very powerful impact on children and many teachers do not realize past the moment of their teaching of that wonderful lesson. I often refer to my own children and impact teachers have made on them as I talk with kids. One teacher in particular who is a good friend who all three of my sons have had and each would say she is one of best teachers they have had and one of the hardest. It could be because thinking was required and thinking was needed often not requested just implied and you would do it because of the teacher and the teacher’s example and attitude. But this teacher also knows that tomorrow this student will be in another classroom and with another teacher and maybe will be a father or mother and teaching their own children. Our jobs do not end with the bells as so many teachers think.
“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” Mother Teresa
It is difficult for me to even imagine the ability to do what Mother Teresa did day after day. She would walk the streets of India dealing with poverty and human suffering we of our comfortable world can barely imagine. She asks to light a light in the hearts of people and I try and compare and feel like a match struck barely casting a spark.
“No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.” Barbara De Angelis
“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” Ethel Percy Andrus
As I look at my day and my effort to try and emulate some of humanities great givers I realize I am here now in this moment and that other person was there at that moment and for now even if only a spark a minimum of light, it is light and it is shining and what I can do now within the context of where I am is what is so important. My morning is spent before class in the hall literally talking to students often students who are walking down the hall just simply being there. I interject questions, how you and such are and often more times than not make some smart remark, I wonder if they are still grouchy today. Yesterday my friend who wasn’t speaking too me, I followed down the hall directly behind her with comments like some people just are annoying they stop talking to other people for no apparent reason anyhow after about fifteen feet of annoying remarks she turned around cracking up and said ok I will talk to you. Later in the day I think a well of holding back spilled out. Have you ever tried to listen to a kid with ADHD try and explain why they were mad at you and all that has happened in a week in fifteen seconds or less, hypersonic listening is required.
“It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be.” James Baldwin
“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” Richard Braunstein
Always as I read Mother Teresa’s comments the “L” word comes up time and time again, love. In teaching so often it is difficult to use that word, even parents find it hard to tell their children. I have heard many times the line “My children know I love them even if I do not tell them”.
“The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one to others.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” Flora Edwards
It amazes me how people do not see how love and giving are really selfish. When you love and when you give it is nearly always returned and the circle is complete. I know this is an under statement and Love and giving are not selfish by any means but it is so true that this circular motion occurs, it may be simply the feeling of doing good. It has been a few months since I did a poster for school about the relief fund one of the classes had started, a feeling of good will, of love while these kids will never witness any effect as to what they do here in our town collecting money for a relief fund actually does, there is satisfaction and pride in the effort.
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran
“He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.” Lao-Tzu
I have been a visitor in schools where teachers wall them selves up in their rooms opening the door for class and lectures then close the door, open the door, and maintain this assembly line routine throughout the day. They never once have true contact with a student. They take roll and call names. I did that the other day started calling names and said we have been required to call roll and students must raise your hand and say present. After about two or three students actually did it one pipes up, “Mr. Bird but you know we are here” and there in lies the difference. Some teachers are so engrossed in not knowing their students they never know they are there. Many choose not to give for a fear of caring.
I called a home many months ago and spoke to a dad if I can call him that. He was pleasant and polite. I asked about his daughter who is a ninth grader. According to him she was with friends for the weekend and he had told her she was responsible for her ride to and from a town about thirty miles distant. In an average car at say 20 miles per gallon that is about four or five gallons maybe six gallons of gas and if careful we can get gas for $2.85 so it is then maybe $10.00 in gas. It seems she could not get a ride back and he told her he could not afford to come get her. Perhaps my comprehension was a bit off as I spoke with him. If one of my children went out of town for the weekend and was unable to get home, I would have found ten or twenty dollars in gas or found a way to get them home. My reason for calling was due to her attendance. A few weeks later that student quit on her sixteenth birthday and left home.
“A handful of pine-seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I too will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high.” Fiona Macleod
“We must give more in order to get more; it is the generous giving of ourselves that produce the generous harvest.” Orison Swett Marden
“In Giving, a man receives more than he gives; and the more is in proportion to the worth of the thing given.” George McDonald
I was looking through old photos from back in the day and found several of some friends from Auburn Alabama. These photos go back nearly twenty five years. The young man in the photos used to work for me when he was in college. I jokingly recalled as I talked to his wife after I spontaneously called after looking at the pictures meeting his wife’s father, seems my friend was hiding in our stock trailer at a livestock show. Her daddy did not want her seeing him and he was looking for the young fellow. Amazing how time is, they are now business partners. A small side note, they lost a baby several years ago and since have had two healthy boys and the third pregnancy was going fine, nearly full term when the little girl was stillborn. No cause could be found in the autopsy and as I talked with my friends wife she offered that in her heart it was meant to be there was a reason and she may never know. It had taken two years but they were having another baby and you know everyday I end with remembering those in harms way. In harms way is a big term. That little baby is doing great and I still keep them in my daily thoughts these are special folks.
“If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” Mother Teresa
“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?” Mother Teresa
“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.” Mother Teresa
Today make an effort to truly know your students, your children, your friends, your family and those you meet. Please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts.
PS: A reminder since I really like this quote – “The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein