Monday, April 24, 2017

Baby, You're a Firework

Our family recently got a dog. We rescued him from a local shelter and he has apparently never lived in a home before. He is skittish and nervous. He is perplexed by our TV. He paces and flinches and cowers at noises despite our constant assurances that we are his people. My husband calls him 50 First Dates because every morning we start over- walking and petting, brushing and reassuring, hoping that today will be the day that he settles down and gets on with the business of being part of our family.

Yesterday was a great day. We even got him in the living room with us as we were watching a movie and the kids had him running around in the backyard before bedtime. And then...somebody started shooting off fireworks.

Suffice it to say that he couldn't get in the house soon enough. He wedged his way under our bed and did not come out until this morning. He whimpered, covered his face, and no promise of treats could assuage him out from under the bed. This morning, as I laid there aware of his presence under us, I kept humming Katy Perry's song, "Firework." I thought about how that song is supposed to be empowering and liberating. My nine year-old daughter belts it out as an anthem. It's a great song...if you like fireworks.

But what if you hate fireworks?

If there's one thing I have learned as an instructional coach, it is that disagreement is just part of life. Some people love flexible seating, some think it's distracting. Some educators are frightened of technology, some embrace every device, app, and extension that is tweeted out. Some teachers lean toward literacy, some math. There are leaders who are outspoken and boisterous, others prefer a more quiet approach.

And what if we pan out past the educators in a school building and look closely at the kids? My daughter and son are as different as two students can be. The needs, preferences, and learning styles of kids in any given classroom are as varied as the adults in the building. Teachers often lament how difficult it is to differentiate for each student. Not just the kiddos with IEPs and 504 plans, or those with a GT label or medical considerations, but all the kids. My son has a GT label, but my daughter does not. Don't I want her teachers to consider her needs just as much as a kid that is identified with a label? Don't all of our children deserve to be planned for, thought of, and honored as we make educational decisions?

As we gear up for another busy end-of-year season, it is my hope that we will all work a little harder to consider the perspectives of the people we encounter each day. It is so hard to look past the bubble of our classroom, our office, our laptop, but may we work towards empathy, understanding, and grace as we work to provide students (and adults) with the best educational experience possible. I want to support those who love technology and those that are frightened by it. I will extend support to the teacher that asks for help and the one who won't ask, but will accept it if I offer it. I will try and anticipate the fears, hopes, and dreams of all of the people with whom I work, and if someone needs to hide under the bed for awhile when things get overwhelming, that's OK.

But, I will be there when they decide to come out.