“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I have a little guy in my program this summer who some might call challenging. Some might call him mean. Some might call him naughty (god help me if they call him that in front of me!) I call him Rory and I am quite fond of him.
I spend a lot of time with Rory. I spend a lot of time helping the other children voice their feelings and concerns to Rory. If I tell him not to hit , it is sure to happen in another five minutes. Yet if the children ask him to stop hitting, he stops. It’s a summer program though, so each week Rory has a new set of children who must learn to navigate life with him.
He has come a long way. On those occasions though when things feel like they are going three steps backwards, I find myself questioning my approach. Last Friday was one of those days, we had such a great day but the last half hour of the program felt like a gong show and Rory hurt someone.
I spent a lot of time reflecting and wondering what I could do.
Then Sunday came along and I found myself sitting on a church pew saying goodbye to a man I loved. My uncle had lost his battle with cancer. I sat and listened to stories shared by friends and family of what a warm, caring and genuine man he was with tears in my eyes.
Driving home a few days later, after time spent with family, I found myself reflecting on my memories of my Uncle Don. I found myself thinking about the times we spent together, what I loved about him and what he taught me. The thing about my uncle Don was this, every time I saw him he made me feel like I was the exact person he wanted to see at that exact moment. He would greet me with a smile and a long wonderful hug. When I spoke I knew he was listening, I could see it in his smile, his eyes and his body language. I will miss this about him.
Wednesday morning I found myself setting up my classroom getting ready for the children. My thoughts back on Rory and how I can best support him. I didn’t know what to do. Then he walked in and at that exact moment I knew, I must make him feel like he was the exact person I wanted to see at that exact moment. I got down to his level, smiled, told him how happy I was to see him and gave him a hug. Throughout the day I gave him hugs and when he had something to share I made sure to really listen with every part of my body.
Today at the end of the day two things happened. One, my manager came and said how impressed she was with how Rory did on our field trip today. Two, Rory came and gave me a hug and told me he loved me.
There are many strategies we can learn from text books and classes but sometimes memories and experience can teach us something too. Tonight I am thankful for my large family and the many lessons they have taught me. You make me a better educator.