Thursday, August 19, 2010

No Helplessness in the Trenches - Take Action!

Funny thing happened this morning.

My oldest son is a night owl, not morning person at all. He studies in the afternoon. Yes, in Brazil, there are two school shifts, and kids can study either in the morning or afternoon. Even so, my kids have morning extra activities, like sports and English classes. Well, every morning I feel I'm in the trenches trying to get those soldiers to stand, get up for the activities. Many words, sometimes even threats, to see if there will be something convincing in my action to make them stand and go. It's almost like losing a battle every single time my day begins. I tried all the strategies, really, from kindness to tickles, some drops of water, fun stuff, even madness. Again, a lost battle just not totally lost because at the end, the little ones wake up. Not in a good mood. Sometimes that cranky look, others tearful moaning an groaning.

With an impotent feeling of helplessness, sometimes I even considered giving up, meaning just to cancel all the extra activities. Many times, in fact, I've thought about it. But, reconsidered it. No. I can't just give up on the kids' present and future. I, from my own background, know the difference it makes when you try out different sports, when you are outdoors, when you learn another language, when you meet new people, a world even bigger than the school environment, where kids learn tons.

Well, we say in Brazil that if you can't change it, just go with the flow. So, today, and I don't know why I haven't thought of that before (!), I simply had a slightly different approach to the whole situation. Not even bright, but sometimes you're so into things you don't notice that very simple changes can have a high impact of surprise. Well, I got my kids' cellphone, set up the alarm, and bang. When I got home after my tennis classes to pick up the kids for their sports activities, they were sitting in the living room, totally ready to leave. I couldn't help myself, but laugh. Such an unpretentious act had such an impact in the whole family environment...Yeah, not brilliant, creative, but just plain, simple shift of perspective. Life was more resplendent today.

All that kept me thinking of our own classrooms. I remember a teen group I had it was almost unbearable. It was the same kind of situation I felt helpless and burnt out after two hours with them. It seems I was trying to manage the unmanageable just to realize that the problem might not have been with those wonderful kids, but the way I was approaching things. With small changes to help us connect, at the end of the semester I was in love with all of them, sad to let them go, and I know they felt at ease in class, as well. We had established a wonderful camaraderie-type of relationship due to the shifts I made to my own lesson plan that really tapped into their interests and my own attitude towards them.

How about you? When was the last time you had an issue in which from just a few adjustments and some action things changed to the positive uplifting side? What are the kinds of situation that are bothering you that YOU could make a change with ever-lasting impact on the outcomes?

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