Things I Learned From My Wife

My wife is a 10th-grade school teacher in a small NH town. Last night, she told me a story about ‘Billy,’ a student who is not academically outstanding and often creates behavioral problems in class. Well, that morning, like many mornings, he came in late to class, and instead of issuing a stern warning, she smiled and asked if he would wait a moment after class.


Once class ended, she decided to take a new approach to Billy and ask, “How are you today?” Instead of shrugging her off, he opened up and told her he had a bad night because of some poor decisions he made. His family was upset with him and he only slept about an hour all night which is why he missed the bus and arrived late. Billy then thanked her for not yelling at him and said that most of his teachers never take the time to ask. My wife quickly realized that he needed help beyond her and had his guidance counselor follow up with him.


How often are we given the opportunity to reach out and be compassionate? More importantly, how often do we allow ourselves to do so? All that could be seen in the beginning was that Billy walked into class late. What my wife found out was that he needed significantly more help than that, and would continue to need support throughout that day and possibly much longer.


The reality of the situation was that Billy was already suffering consequences far beyond being late to school. So much so that he couldn’t find a release at home. It is so easy to judge and dismiss behavior as willful disregard, but compassion leaves judgment behind. Compassion opens the door to healing while recognizing the behavior for what it is: simply another opportunity to grow.


A mentor of mine once told me, and I’m paraphrasing because it was a long time ago “All kids come to us with baggage. We don’t know what it might be, but it shows up in their mood, their behavior, their interactions with adults, and it shows up without them knowing how or why. If you’re good, you may be able to guess a little about their baggage, and if you’re lucky, they may tell you about it. The one thing one thing we as educators cannot afford to do is to judge them because of how they present the baggage.”  


Post created by Mike Sallade

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