Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Small Acts of Kindness

I am, and I'm certain I'm not alone, guilty of seeing the negative far too often. Recently I was frustrated after talking to an adult - the small mindedness of others can shock me. I find myself spiraling down a path of negative feelings and judgement that just isn't productive or helpful. When that happens, I begin to look for small acts of kindness. They are always there when you look for them. 

Teacher Appreciation Week
Our middle school teachers have been spoiled this week by parents, a student volunteer club, student council, and more. Monday they stocked our fridge with drinks, a local coffee shop brought coffee, a new bakery brought treats, as did some amazing parents. It was glorious. Throughout the week they have been handing out gift cards. And, one of my favorites, is the snack cart the student council brings around during our prep time. (see the photo above) These awesome kids greeted me today with a smile and lots of fun snacks. I was thrilled to grab one of my favorites - cheese sticks - from them before I returned to grading. 

We wrapped up a poetry unit in April. At the end of the month I asked my students to turn in one free write poem from their work over the month. I'll be honest, I was not prepared for the raw emotion that middle school kids put in their poems. I was honored to read them, grateful that they'd share these parts of themselves with me. I saw kindness in their love for their friends and family, as well as their trust in me. Their beautiful poems gave me hope for the world once more.

Middle school kids can get a bad rep. It's an age known for drama, unkindness, and ego. However, I've seen the opposite this week several times over. My heart has filled with joy as I've watched kids giving other students the freedom to express who they are. Unlike some adults, the kids have been accepting and kind. 

I smiled at a track meet as I watched kids cheer on each other, and on their opponents, showing joy beyond measure.

And as I stood at the finish line, timing the boys' races last night, my night was made. I loved that my son and his friend raced in the 800 for our conference meet. My son got first, his friend got second. Luke caught his breath and then headed back to check in for the 4x400 relay that was up next. His friend went to find his parents, but stopped, grabbed all of Luke's warm clothing from where they had gotten ready for the race, and brought them to me before heading to see his parents. And when Luke finished his relay? His friend was back to debrief the race and give him suggestions to improve. His unselfish nature and pure heart brought tears to my eyes and made me grateful for his friendship for my kid.

I saw this image on Facebook tonight. It spoke to me immediately. I've been in a funk of late. I'm not sure why, and thus this post, but my emotions are close to the surface. I've tried hard to ignore them, to look for the good in everyone instead of focusing on the negative, but I've struggled. My students have helped me more than they know. Whether it's to come in, tell me they love the book they're reading; to pat me on the back as they pass in the hall; or, like a boy in my study hall today, just quietly say, "Hey Mrs. S, have a great day. I love being here." I mean, how lucky am I? 

I love my students for recognizing when I need a kind word. It made me remember that I need to do that for my colleagues too. I think we're at the point of the year that we could all use a hug. Parents realize this and are honoring educators everywhere this week. We need to be kind to each other too. Instead of complaining, dwelling on the negative, maybe we need to lift each other up. I saw one colleague do that for another today. Without being asked, they stepped up. I've so enjoyed getting to know my new colleagues. One of my friends likes to say you can see the glow of a good person when you look. I certainly did today and it made me grateful to be where I am, to do what I do, to work with the people I am blessed to work with every single day. 

Yep, there is negativity around if I look for it, but there is also kindness spilling over. I need to look for it more. It makes all of the difference in the world.