GUESS WHERE I JUST CAME FROM? If you guessed math lecture, you would be correct. What? You don’t spend your Friday night at a math lecture? You just aren’t cool enough. All time favorite text to the Husband: I will be late tonight — I’ve got that Friday night math lecture. Cue the nerd memes.
It was pretty awesome, though and you SHOULDA been there! We were listening to Jo Boaler lecture on her book Limitless Mind. As you would expect with that title, it was uber inspiring. Her website youcubed is pretty awesome and cleverly titled. She talks about all things growth mindset and differential approaches to problem-solving — just your usual Friday night chit chat.
TWO AMAZING THINGS HAPPENED TODAY, on top of the math lecture. I shall describe them below:
ONE: Four boxes arrived at my school from Amazon! Check out the snap of the awesome goodies that came my students way. I am UNBELIEVABLY grateful for the kindness. Thank you Aly, Terina, and Tami. My list is nearly completely cleared, and it is stunning. The boxes came right at the end of the day, so I let my Leadership students help me open them. They were so excited and a little bit in awe that people who didn’t know them, were sending them gifts. I cannot even wait to show my reading students the AWESOME journals! Can I just mention that over the years, my sweet, beloved former students have blessed my current students with gifts? Does it get better than that?
TWO: Leadership class was once again amazing. After the arrival of the gifts, some snacks, and a fun round of Animal Concentration (Terina, remember that?") , we settled in on the work of learning about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, or as we call them, “The Seven Leadership Habits”. This is our second year of the habits and I need to talk about something that I’m wrestling with — I don’t even complete understand what it is, but something powerful is taking place.
My leadership students have to first understand the seven habits, so that they can then promote and teach them. Today is our first stab at learning them. I divide the students into groups, and assign one habit to each of them. They research it and today they had to make a poster that they could use to teach others about their habits. We literally picked who got which habit by spinning a spinner.
BACKGROUND INFO: Last year, the student who got to learn about and teach Habit 7 was a child who often got into trouble, not only in class, but also struggled to get along with their peers. However, when confronted with Habit 7 (Sharpen the Saw), they dug in deep. They created a thoughtful presentation, and had a clear and deep connection to that particular habit.
THE SAME THING HAPPENED THIS YEAR. Another student, who has experience great trauma in their life, and struggles with maintaining positive relationships with those around them, also randomly was assigned Habit 7. They worked with amazing focus, and presented a poster with multiple examples and deep understanding. Driving from Leadership class to my math lecture, I actually said out loud, “I wish their teacher could have watched them work.” Before leaving leadership today, we sat in a circle and reviewed the posters. Many kids commented on the poster for Habit 7. “Did you know about it before?” one of them asked the student. He hadn’t. And I’m not even sure myself what the connection is precisely. I just know that these 7 habits are pretty much spot on.
WHAT IS HABIT 7, you ask. I’ll tell you: Sharpen the Saw. It is the last habit, and really you can’t achieve if you haven’t really worked on the first 3 habits which are foundational. Habits 1 - 3 have to do with getting things straight internally - Be proactive, Begin with the End in Mind and Put first things first. All the rest of the habits build on those and have to do with your relationships with others. And then comes habit 7 which is connected to all habits. Sharpen the saw involves the concept that we need to take care of ourselves so that we can do better. It talks about the importance of balance in our lives — that we need to take care of our body, mind, heart and spirit if we are really going to truly be effective.
I suppose you could say that those living in chaos are drawn to the ideas of peace and connection, but I’m not sure that is what is happening exactly, and maybe if these same students had been randomly assigned a different habit they would’ve been equally engaged. I just know that I was witnessing something powerful; something that I don’t entirely understand, but it feels important. I saw a child connected, focused, empathetic and inspired. I know that this is true.
And here’s the thing, in both of these cases, the other things about the students involved are also true. See, that is the really complicated thing about human beings. You can be a bully and a victim. You can be a troublemaker and a leader. I’m not blind to the fact that these students are imperfect in ways that cause you to consider them with caution and you are right to feel that way. Yet, they are human beings with significance, importance and value, and if you can look through the layers of anger, bitterness and rage, there is something underneath - something that has always been there, as equally true as everything else about them. I dunno, I could also be 100% wrong. Then again, maybe it is like Pandora’s box. There were all those terrible things inside, but there was hope, too. Maybe that story wasn’t about the world, but about the human heart - it can contain all those terrible things, but it can contain a beautiful, tiny piece of hope.
I’m thankful for all the people who looked past my bad behavior and saw the beauty down beneath it all. I’m going to continue to wrestle with all these thoughts and ideas, and would love to hear what you think. Either way, I will . . .