So annnnyway...getting back to the real point of this blog! :) Last night, I was watching The Blind Side for the millionth time, but this time, I noticed more. I started thinking back to when I first wanted to be a teacher (which was 2nd grade!). Those were the days that I dreamed of what my life would be like as I got older. I rode my bike 20 times around the block with my friend. We drew lines with chalk or rocks making pretend driving lanes and played grown-ups where my house was the front porch and hers was the back deck. I would be the teacher and grade papers (I loved grading papers THEN! hah). I did all of this with my biggest worry being that I didn't get to play with my friend that day. It wasn't until I started teaching at the school I'm at now for the past 9 years that I truly understood how incredibly lucky and blessed I was and AM with the hand I was dealt along with my choices and opportunities on the way. It's just not that way for everyone. "Oh, I know it's hard for some people, but they got themselves into that mess," said by many. We DON'T know, but it is our job to get to KNOW them...which brings me to this quote from Michael Oher in the movie, The Blind Side.
"Hope for courage and try for honor. And maybe even pray that the people telling you what to do, have some too." The Blind Side
Being at my current school, I have seen/heard/witnessed things that I never thought a child would be exposed to at any age yet alone 5, 6, 7, 8. This movie says it all. You don't get to choose the family you're born into, but you do get to choose who you become. In the movie, Michael knew only what his environment and "family" showed him, and he carried this with him because that was a part of his life he could hold on to. He didn't know anything else. You don't miss something you never had. I think we ALWAYS want to give our family the benefit of the doubt and hope that they are making or going to make the right decisions. They ARE OUR family after all! They are the ones that have no choice but to be connected to us. Now whether that connection is positive, negative, or non-existant is up to each individual. However, the decisions and choices we make as well as our family members make inevitably affect us in some way. As Michael became a part of a family that encouraged, supported, and believed in him, he, in return, started to figure out his place in this world and that he didn't have to be in that position anymore. He deserved more. He had a choice. It takes courage to change your situation whether that is losing weight or traveling to a new place on your own. It takes courage. However, anyone can have courage. It's those that have courage with honor that truly make a difference in this world. Are you proud of your choices and how you handled them? That is the true question.
As I was watching this movie, I kept flashing back to my own classroom and my role as a teacher, educator. One of the hardest things I had to deal with when I first saw these "not so good circumstances" affecting "my kids"was not being angry with the people who were exposing them to these awful things. Now, I'm not saying that I'm giving them the okay by any means. I'm saying that instead of devoting my time and energy to being mad at their situations, I needed to put all of my energy into what I could do for "my kids" to help them see their true worth and potential in this world of theirs. I give support to the families as well as the kids, but the secret ingredient to success was opening those doors and windows for them to see what was out there awaiting them. I get a knot in my throat thinking about this right now because it makes me realize what an UNBELIEVABLE opportunity and gift we have been given. We have the chance to be the light in a child's life. It's not just about what we TEACH them. It's about our relationships with them. They can see right through you. They have dealt with people failing to follow through time and time again. We need to show them that this isn't and shouldn't be the norm. ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS. SHOW. DON'T TELL.
In a world where children are growing up faster than ever with many distractions and road blocks in their way, WE CAN be the one to lead by example. WE CAN show them what having courage WITH honor truly means. WE CAN learn from them as well as teach them. WE CAN listen and get to know them as people. WE CAN help them see that they are the key to their own future. WE CAN help build their confidence. WE CAN acknowledge their situations, but never let their situations become excuses. WE CAN support and praise them. TOGETHER, WE CAN.
In the great words of Mahatma Gandhi,
We have been given the most important gift of all, the chance to be a positive role model to the children of our world. With so many so called "role models" appearing in the media in a negative light, we can be the positive light in their darkness. It only takes one to make a difference, but just think what can and will happen if ONE becomes MANY...