If you have ever taught kids, you know what I am talking about. You are giving a lesson to the class and you ask them if they understand. You have 27 heads nodding yes, and you know that most of them have no clue. They are nodding yes because they don’t want to look stupid, they want to fit in, and they want you to be proud of them.
Kids have an inherent need to feel accepted. They want to know that they belong, they matter, and their voice is heard no matter if it is a whisper or a shout. Kids want to know that someone really cares about them. Sadly, many kids do not get positive reinforcement at home. Many of them are ignored or abused. Many are made to feel that they are not a blessing…but a curse…and then they get dressed and come to school.
The language of kids is really simple. If you want to reach kids, you have to show them you care. You have to listen to them, engage them, encourage them, and have fun with them. You have to laugh with them, cry with them, and above all…be there for them. Kids are really pretty simple people. If you give them just an ounce of encouragement and support, they will grow, but if you pour out encouragement and support for them, they will thrive…even when they don’t get it at home.
You may be the home they have been longing for. Give kids your best because some day they will understand and appreciate what you have done. You may not be around to appreciate it, but your kids, your grandchildren, and their kids may be the very ones to benefit from the seeds you plant today in the hearts of the kids you teach.
The language that kids speak is really very simple. It is the language of love.
When I was growing up Art Linkletter had a show with that title. It was hilarious. He simply interviewed little kids and waited for them to say what was on their mind…and it inevitably caught him and the audience off guard. If you have never seen the show just YouTube it and watch a few episodes. You can’t help but laugh.
Below are a few comments I have had from kids and my comeback to them:
In relation to my claiming to be Superman, I have had many questions:
“If you are Superman, you can fly! FLY!” I just tell them “I never fly without my cape.”
“Where is your cape?” I tell them “It is at home with my wife…Wonder Woman.” That always gets a laugh and look of disbelief. I just give them a big grin and a double thumbs up!
“Superman has hair. Where is your hair?” I just point out that I have some hair on my head…not much, but I have some. LOL.
“Superman has muscles. Where are your abs?” OK, I admit it…that one hurt. LOL. First I ask them “What you are trying to say?” Then I just tell them, “I am working under cover, so don’t tell anybody.” Apparently I have to start working out.
“Use your laser eyes!” I just tell them, “I can’t because it is a fire hazard and against the school rules.” Then I tell them, “Besides, that is what happened to my head. I was looking in the mirror one day and my laser eyes burned off my hair!” That usually makes them drop their jaws.
“Batman BEAT you in the movie!” I just let them know, “That was just a movie. Batman and I are really best friends.” :o)
“Superman doesn’t wear glasses.” I have to educate them. “Clark Kent does wear glasses, and he becomes Superman.”
“Does Kryptonite really make you weak?” I tell them, “Yes…and Wonder Woman is my Kryptonite.” That usually gets a few giggles. LOL.
“Superman has super powers. What can YOU do?” I tell them, “Be very quiet.” Then I thump my cheek and made a sound like water dropping. It is very funny. They are mystified by it and go around the rest of the day thumping their cheek and trying to duplicate the sound. In all the years I have done this I have only had one kid who could duplicate the sound…and he was a 5th grader. I also have the ability to invert my arms because I am double jointed. So, between the two…that is enough super powers to usually make my point.
“Superman is not old!” To that I respond…”I am the ORIGINAL Superman! I just put on makeup and a wig for the movies.”
“When are you going to fly for us?” I tell them, “Come to school on Sunday and you will see me fly over the school. I will wave at you!” Of course, they protest that there is no school on Sunday…but at least they know I tried. :o)
*Note to anyone wanting to be a super hero: You had better have answers to all their questions!
Other questions and comments:
One little boy looked at me and said, “You have hair in your nose!” I pointed out that everyone has hair in their nose…including HIM. LOL. He was totally disgusted by the mere idea of it.
“Are you pregnant?” Thankfully, I did not have to answer that one because another first grade boy told him, “Boys don’t have babies! Girls do!” By the way, that was my incentive to lose 25 lbs…no kidding. LOL.
“What does gay mean?” I tell them it means “Happy!” At least it used to mean that.
“What are those brown spots on your arms?” I tell them, “Aliens tried to abduct me and I had to fight them off! Or…it could just be from old age. I am older than dirt!”
In relation to my age, I tell them “I am 112 years old.” Then I add, “But hey, I look good, right?” They get wide-eyed and nod yes. I tell them I was born in 1905. Usually there is at least one kid in the group who does the math and informs the rest of them that I really am 112 years old. LOL.
I think I need to bring this show back and interview kids. If you know anyone that produces TV shows, have them contact me. I already have lots of material. :o) Shalom!
I don’t understand people who say, “Life is not a competition.” The problem with that statement is that the evidence is overwhelmingly opposed to it. We compete on so many things in life that the list is seemingly endless. We compete to get into the right school, get on a team, stay on a team, and beat opposing teams. Men compete to win the hand of a fair maiden. Women compete to win the heart of their man. We compete to get jobs, keep our jobs, and then excel in our jobs. We compete in business to have the next best widget. We begin by learning to compete with ourselves; then we take it to the next level by competing with others. Even Heaven had a competition between God and the devil. I thank God that He did not just give up His throne to the enemy of our souls. That battle is still being played out.
In every completion there are winners and losers. Everyone does not get a ribbon. I realize that there are exceptions…like little kids and people with special needs…but even special needs people have their Olympics to teach them how to win.
If you don’t learn how to play the game, you’ll be looking for someone to blame. Winning is a habit, and so is losing, and habits are learned behaviors. Competition is not bad, and losing is not fatal. Just because we lose at something does not make us losers. We only become losers when we quit…give up…and start blaming our circumstance, our competition, or even ourselves. Placing blame is not the issue. Learning the lesson is the issue. Every competition is an opportunity to learn. Whether you win or lose, you learn more about yourself, your competition, your company, your mate, etc.
Find the lesson in every competition and you begin to understand the rules of the game. When you negotiate, you look for a win-win situation, right? The truth is that even then you want to come out on top more than your competition. Think of life as a chess game. You have a limited amount of moves and resources. You have opponents who seek to win as well. Learn to think ahead. Don’t just consider you next move, but consider what move you will make after that, and then the one after that. Consider the consequences of each move and by all means…know your competition. To know your enemy is to know your next move.
There are few things in life that frustrate me more than having car problems. They always seem to happen at the worst possible time. Recently my check engine light came on and I took it over to a garage that I had dealt with before. I thought I could trust them…but learned otherwise. I did not ask them what they would charge to look at my car and tell me what the problem was. Big mistake! When he gave me the bill, I was both shocked and dismayed. The bill was $108 just to diagnose the problem. I knew other garages that would have checked it out for $65, so this sent up a red flag to me. Then he handed me the suggested repairs. I nearly fainted as he told me that two O2 sensors were out and my car should not be driven further until they were replaced.
Wow. What a pickle! The tab was over $800, and I did not have that to spend as I had just shelled out $1,200 to fix our air conditioner at home. I did not stress out about it. Instead…I prayed for discernment and made several calls to other garages to see what they would charge me. Of course, they wanted to run their own diagnostics before giving me a quote…which I can understand, but I did not want to go broke on getting estimates either. So, I parked my car and borrowed my wife’s “Granny Van” till I could save up the money for further diagnostics and repairs.
I normally go to a men’s Bible study group on Saturdays, and this particular Saturday I almost did not go because my lawn was needing to be mowed and it was very hot. The earlier in the day I mow the better…but something told me I needed to go to the Bible study anyway so I went.
I had not told anyone at the group about my dilemma, but one close friend of mine came over and asked me how things were going…and I told him about my car and the gigantic bill that I had to somehow come up with. He said, “I had that very same problem on my car recently and it turned out to be a hose that cost me $40. Let me look at it and see if that is the case.” So, after the Bible study he came over to my house, popped the hood and sure enough there was a big crack in the hose that goes to the air filter! I bought the hose and a new air filter and he put them on for me. He had both the tools and the know-how which I lacked. Auto repair is NOT one of my gifts.
We were literally getting all the parts back together when I get a call from my wife. She was at Walmart and HER car would not start! LOL. I just looked up in the sky and said, “Really God?” LOL. We finished putting all the screws back into the engine and I was off to Walmart to help my wife. It was a bad battery and as soon as we gave it a jump it started right up. I swapped cars with her and took hers around the back of Walmart to the auto repair shop and got a new battery put in for her.
What a day! I thought back on all the circumstances that happened and how my friend was there for me when I needed him. I know God will bless him for his servant’s heart…as will I. The really sad part about this day was that the mechanics I thought I could trust were just smiling crooks. They had no morals or ethics and only cared about the dollar. Little did they know that I had planned on doing some major work on both vehicles with them in the near future, but that business will never be done with them at this point. The moral to the story:
When you have a gut check about something that someone is telling you…LISTEN. Don’t ignore that little voice telling you that something is not right. If you don’t have peace about it, there is a good reason and you need to find out what is wrong.
Don’t make rash decisions just because there is an apparent emergency. Slow down, pray about it…and seek advice from trusted advisors.
Wait on God. That is probably one of the hardest things for me to do, and yet when I do, He does things for me that only He can do…and He makes no mistakes! I just have to trust Him and HIS timing.
It was not an accident that I was compelled to go to the Bible study even when I had other things I needed to do. It was not an accident that my friend was there and had the perfect solution for me at a price I could afford. It was not an accident that my wife was at Walmart when her car broke down. I literally had to just drive it around the corner of the building to get it fixed.
Did I like doing all of this on a hot August day in Texas? No. I would much rather be indoors watching a movie and munching on some popcorn, but that is life. We have our days to watch movies and our days in the sun. We can expect to have them both; just don’t stress out when things get a little crazy. Take a deep breath, pray, trust God, and wait. You will endure the heat much better if you learn the secret of chilling.
P.S. I still mowed my lawn while I was waiting for my friend to come over.
P.S.S. I do know that you can take your car to Auto Zone or O’Reilly’s and get a free diagnostic on the check engine light, but that does not tell the whole story. A qualified mechanic has to look at it to see what is really going on. This is a perfect example. The free diagnostic said I had two O2 sensors not working, but what I needed was to replace a cracked hose! Shalom!
Lord, give me wisdom as I teach the children today. Give me strength to endure the challenges that I know I must face. Help me to be patient and kind to them regardless of how they treat me or how I feel. Help me love them unconditionally. Help me know when to speak and when to listen, when to praise and when to correct. Help me to observe closely the expressions on their faces so I know if they really understand the lesson, and if they don’t, help me explain it in words that they will comprehend. I pray that I will inspire them to do things that they never dreamed possible, and that I help them unlock their greatest potential. Help me to be an encourager and treat them all with respect. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this great honor. I am humbled by the great responsibility you have given me: to help shape the hearts and minds of future generations. Help me never forget that teaching is a calling, and this calling is as sacred as any job on earth. May I be worthy of my calling. Lastly, help me always remember to be a servant leader and support my teachers and staff whenever possible. I pray that we as a team will make a positive difference in the lives of every child entrusted to us. Amen.
Our Principal was talking about this concept during one of our Teacher Development days. I was familiar with the book by Carol Dweck only because someone recommended it to me a week ago and I ordered a copy. The session we went through was like reading a Cliff Notes version of her book. I still plan to read it fully when I get my copy so I don’t miss anything vital, but here are a few things I came away with from our Principal:
There are 2 mindsets. One is fixed and one is growth.
Our beliefs and our focus drive the outcomes in a positive or negative direction.
A fixed mindset says we are born this way and we basically don’t change much when it comes to talents and abilities. A growth mindset says you can change, learn and adapt to new things far beyond what you may currently be able to do. It changes the focus from “now” to “not yet.” Just because they can’t do it now does not mean they won’t be able to do it in the future!
A fixed mindset is difficult to introduce new things to because they resist change and are worried about how they look to others. They tend to argue their point and live their lives in a state of defeat. A growth mindset is open to exploring new things and willing to converse about differences to find solutions that are out there. Their attitude is: We just haven’t discovered them all yet. Let’s find one that works.
She challenged us to think about students we had taught in the past that had a fixed mindset and asked us to brainstorm about how we could have helped them move to a growth mindset.
For me, it was pretty easy to think of the kid who stuck out in class like a sore thumb. He was a rebel at heart and unwilling to try new things. He resisted just about everything we tried with him. This was frustrating for me, my co-teacher, other teachers and coaches that interacted with him, the classmates he had, and for him especially. I don’t think anyone is really happy living with a fixed mindset. They just don’t have a clue as to how to change it.
I wish I could tell you that we had a miraculous breakthrough with him, but unfortunately that was not the case. His trouble at home was apparent and he carried the weight of that dysfunction on his shoulders. He spent more time in the Principal’s office than he did in class (at least it seemed that way). I don’t know how he fared on the STARR test, but I would be shocked if he passed it.
My goal this year is to find ways to help kids look at things differently, help them experience some success in doing so, and then repeat it until they see a positive pattern. I want to instill in them the “not yet” mentality. I try to develop relationship with all the kids, but there are some that will not respond no matter what I do or say. I get that. Those are the kids that keep me up at night…thinking about what I could do differently to reach them. I wish I had a magic wand or a pill that we could take that just fixed everything, but as we all know, that does not exist.
I know that at the very least, I have to model a growth mindset myself. I have to be positive, willing to look at things differently, and open to discussing things that may be quite different from what I know or how I feel. If I can learn to master this for myself, who knows? Maybe….just maybe I will reach the next kid that comes to school overwhelmed, worn out, and disengaged. I pray this is the case as I work on fixing myself first. I am not there yet, but I am working in it.
I was very troubled at a video clip being aired this week on the news. A man was riding the DART train in Dallas, and got viciously attacked by a gang. Why? He asked them not to smoke a joint on the train. Wow. He was beaten to the point of unconsciousness and then hit in the head with a skateboard. When the news interviewed him he asked, “Where is our humanity?” It made me think of the beating that Rodney King took many years ago and his response was, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
This is a prime example of what happens to a society that has lost its way. The absence of love is evil. I have heard people debate what the opposite of love is. Some say it is hate, some say fear, but I suggest it is darkness. Where there is no love there is no light and the people stumble around in wickedness.
Here is one of the predicaments we have. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what love is. I like the definition below:
“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Next time you wonder about what love is, read that again. It puts things in perspective. Pure love is giving, not taking. When someone says, “I love you,” but the actions above are missing…you best beware. Love that has no action is lust disguising itself as love.
Dionne Warwick had a song that went like this: “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing…that there’s just too little of.” Isn’t that the truth? Love seems to be in short supply in this crazy world. How about we show some humanity and all just get along? “Put a little love in your heart.”
Grit is not a term you hear used often…unless you are from the South…and then it is plural, not singular. Grit is a bit of an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Nobody really knows what it is, but a few have attempted to define it.
I was listening recently to a lady on TED Talks. She was talking about a study that was done to predict success. It wasn’t intelligence, high test scores, or socio-economic indicators that mattered in the end. It was grit. She defined grit as the passionate pursuit of your goal with unwavering determination and perseverance. I am paraphrasing her words, but that is close. Grit, in her estimation, was the differentiating factor in determining success.
The problem then is twofold:
How do you identify grit?
How do you encourage people to have grit?
She did not have a clear answer for this. She posed the problem and only offered a partial solution. She suggested that kids be taught that mistakes are not permanent, but part of a process and that the brain will grow through it all. If kids understand that, they will be more likely to accept it. I understand her point, but some mistakes are not so easily brushed aside and the fallout could take a lifetime to rectify…if it is rectified at all.
So what is my point? I do believe in grit and grits. I believe that there is great wisdom in learning to persevere through pain, sorrow, and whatever life may throw at you in order for you to finally attain your goal and experience for yourself what it feels like to win. I do believe that the bigger the odds against you…the greater the satisfaction in winning. That is true grit. That is something that everyone should pursue. That is something that nobody can take from you once you have tasted it. Success is sweet. Teach people what it feels like to win and they will not want to give it up.