Today a Young Man Came to School…

Today a young man came to school.

No big deal…
That happens every day…
That’s where he should be…
…you say.

He…
…is not an average kid
…has behavior issues
…is average. If average is high-risk.

Okay, and?
…you ask (shrugging your shoulders).

Today a young man came to school
and he inspired me.

He came in…
…cold
…wet
…visibly upset
…completely out of dress code
…and after walking maybe 3 miles toward

Nashville and turning around
and coming to school.
Not home, to school.
Where he felt safe.
An alternative program
where he had been for about 3 weeks

I spoke to him as he came to my class.
Asking if he…
…was alright
…was going to be able to work
…would be any trouble
???

His voice – it broke as he responded.
And my heart – it broke as I listened.

You could hear…
…the pain…
…the desperation…
…the loss…
…in his voice.

He looked like a cornered animal.
He reacted like an abused dog to attention.

I told him…
…he made a good choice coming to school
(not the myriad other choices he could have made)
…some days we must focus on the small, minute-to-minute decisions
(not the big decisions)
…some days we rejoice at getting through it step-by-step
…that I enjoyed having him in class because he works hard
…I was proud of him for making the right decisions this day
…I had faith in him and knew he could keep it up

He came in and worked hard
At the end of the day he left…
…with a smile
…shaking hands with teachers

I hope he returns tomorrow. He said he’s moving to Nashville.
I never tell my students I’ll miss them…
…but I do.

Today a young man came to school…
…he didn’t have to, but he did
…and he inspired me
…and he taught me

An Observation about Perspective

Sometimes I think about my students’ perspectives regarding history and while this isn’t the first time I’ve considered this, I just wanted to share that observation.

The strange part of teaching history is the differences in perception between me and my students. For instance, I am currently working on lecture notes & a slideshow about the 1980s – a time I well remember since I graduated in 1984 and can certainly relate to, and my perception of it is as if it were yesterday in a sense. However, for my students this happened 30 years ago – in the distant past for them. To give myself some perspective that would be similar to when I was in high school in the early ’80s and a teacher talking about what life was like in the early ’50s, pretty much right after WW2.

And then I think of all the changes between the ’50s and the ’80s and then consider all the changes between the ’80s and the ’10s.

Weird.

The Calendar and the Clock

I keep wanting to return to before that date.
That date and that time
that sticks in my mind.
Before that moment
my father still lived.

But time keeps pushing me forward.
Ever further from that event into the future,
away from my father’s last breath.
Distancing me from my father’s
voice
touch
looks
smell
attentiveness.

The calendar and the clock are my
enemies and my friends

I advance into the future both
away from him and yet also…

closer to him.

One day the clock and the calendar
will be my friend and take me
back to my father.

But until that day,
they are my enemies.

November 7, 2014

My father passed away on August 1, 2014. Kindness, Fairness, and Compassion are three things he left as his legacy. They are not the only things he left, but they are important. My new normal is not always as fun as my old normal. But I do look at my own children and students through his eyes.

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