Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wind Blow Some Solace in My Direction

It has been a week of high winds and with it great upheaval. The northeasterly that blows through the farthest southern tip of Lake Michigan is a force to be reckoned with. One cannot imagine the strength and depth with which the wind and water combined does to not only our shoreline, but to the minds of those caught in its path. So it was over the past 2 weeks in the life of an educator. While I struggle to understand the multitudes of personalities that I encounter in one day, I also struggle to understand me and the role I have in each of the lives that I encounter. I want to understand, to get into the minds of, all the while settling my own mind. Like you, this is not an easy task. How to maintain peace in the midst of the northeasterly, that is the greatest of all tasks. I am getting better at maintaining my resolve while I turn face into the wind and accept the strength and conviction found in the power of nature. While I teach my integrated chem/phys course, I am constantly reminding my students that it is the law of the universe to constantly find stability. Nature does what nature does. It does not read books, or go into lengthy discussions about how to stabilize, it just does it. Unbridled freedom dictates how it will go about stabilizing itself. Human nature does not quite have it that easy. Rather, it takes into consideration things such as individual rights, due process, history, condition, circumstance, all the while taking into consideration, cause and affect. So it is that the great northeasterly does what it does best, spirals the onlooker into an unpredictable spin. The good news is that eventually it will land. As it was with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she knew that she was who she was, and knew where to rest her head, where to find that peaceful solace.

What about those who do not know where to lay their heads, or those who are incapable of finding peaceful solace? That is the million dollar question, and what we as educators face daily in our school environments, how do we handle the young lady who has not slept in 2 days because her familial dysfunction? How do we tell her that the most important thing in the world is that she graduate from High School, and question why she would dare to skip Spanish 101? Do we teach her a life lesson by throwing her into sweep room, the place where those discontent with school go for punishment? Do we suspend her, because she is insolent and disobedient? Do we hug her and say, "wow, you have shown great character by coming to school anyway, even with your eyes so swollen due to lack of sleep and tears." Do we escort to the counselor where she can find a peaceful solace? Do we feed her as Jesus would have done? Or would we throw stones, "she is just one more we will have on welfare-row?"

Yes, this young lady is real, and I encountered this yesterday. This beautiful young lady was one of my first encounters coming to Michigan City Area Schools in August of 2008. I had her every morning, and she was a tough cookie. Our relationship escalated one day when she became physically and verbally threatening to me. I could not understand why she had such dislike for me. I didn't really want to know why, I just wanted my peaceful world back. I wanted her gone. I loved her as I do all of my students, I cared for her, but, I couldn't reach her, so I thought. I held my resolve much like I do as I face the northeasterly. She was subsequently suspended for 3 days for "intimidation of authority."

We got through the school year, and she went on to high school I taught 2 more years at the middle school. Mid-way through her freshman year, and my second year at the middle school, I got an email from her. I did not respond, as I did not believe that she should be emailing me from her class at the high school, nor did I want to get involved. A couple more months went by and a teacher from the High School wrote me and said, "this young lady wants me to let you know that she is going to juvie, (juvenile detention) and that she thinks of you, and wants you to know." I was shocked. What impression had I made on this girl, what do I do with this information? I assured the teacher that I would be praying for this young lady, and to please keep me informed.

Speed ahead to 2011. My second day of school this young lady sought me out. She heard rumor that I had come to the high school She made sure she came up to greet me and gave me a huge hug. She does not have any classes near mine, nor is her locker, but, she seeks me out. I know when she is troubled as she will be in my corner of the world. She has come to my room a couple of times when she is hungry. I feed her a breakfast bar, or whatever I happen to have. She sought me out, you see, she knows I will ask if she is ok. Is it possible that we are the port in the storm? How often am I the storm? Either way, it is okay, you see, the universe is constantly in a state of stabilization. Like the northeasterly, it has its purpose. Call waters for too long create a state of complacency, and stagnation. Far too often only the bad bacteria grows and it devours those things that allow for flourishing life-forms.

I have begun to read a book titled "Five Percent." It is written by the Peter Coleman of Columbia University. It is helping me understand that it is considered that 5% of all conflicts are irreconcilable and the reason behind this phenomena is that there are 57 areas that prevent conflict resolution. When one begins to understand that there are those factors embedded in human function, one comes to understand that maybe the only thing one can do at times is to stop, listen, and nurture a person through until nature has time to stabilize.