Stand Up

I was correct in my prediction that the previous posting A Lesson Plan Won’t Stop a Bullet may have consequences for me, but they weren’t dire. I considered just pulling the piece so many times, but this time despite the quaking, I wrote my piece and stood up prepared to accept the fallout. It has taken me a very long time to not only find my voice but to also believe that my voice has a purpose.

The Problem

I was told that I was part of the problem by writing my last piece. I understand the comment, and even why that was the position. The people pleaser in me wanted to run and cower, rip down the post, and immediately post a retraction saying I was just angry. But that is not the truth. I wasn’t angry at all, I was afraid.

The Truth

Truth be told, I think we both, my boss and I, walked through that piece on a different path. He realized it wasn’t a slight against him and was really very gracious once his temper quelled. I don’t know as he will ever truly not be temperate in my company again, and I realize, that is a price I can accept.  I also learned I shouldn’t assume the worst until it actually happens. I’m still employed, still valued, and even got a different position, one that I wanted and will hopefully enjoy.

The belt has tightened, changes and a positive difference in our school are evident. There is now a plan. It’s not perfect, but who knows what perfect looks like in the face of terror anyway. Students are being held a little more accountable. Our resource officer is a little more visible. We have emergency communication functionality and the overall tone feels softer and more at ease these days.

The Purpose

My boss was hurt, felt betrayed, and thought there was a misread in loyalty. I get that, I do. I felt the same way, hence the piece.  I respect what my employer is trying to do, he is compassionate and kind, and genuine, so I did something I rarely do, I explained my motivation. It took just a moment to explain it wasn’t about him.

I wrote the piece to shine a light on the issues not only in our school but in all schools across this great country. Our schools represent and directly mirror our communities. Those communities represent and directly mirror our country. When we hold up the mirror and ugly stares us back in the face, we have two options; deny the reflection or change it.

The piece was about the seething cultures that exist within our society. It was about the voices that so often get lost in the mire of the daily grind. So lost, we fail to recognize the toll it takes on them and the others around them, and most profoundly the toll it takes on our humanity.

It was about how easily we become mesmerized by watching the wheel spin, we can no longer discern its direction as forward or back.

It was a reminder that it takes an insignificant moment to be better. To offer a welcome, or a smile, or a good morning that allows someone feel a connection. It was a reminder that rudeness and unwarranted contempt may never be overcome creating a divide that can never be traversed.

Speak Up

If my speaking up caused a change to happen, then I am okay with being the problem. I will still shake in the knees when I speak up because the unknown, is well, unknown. I can only move from my center.

Changes occurred after those two pieces. Some were sweeping and poignant, some were indirect and more subtle, some are ongoing. I’d like to think coincidences do indeed happen and that I was just impatient. It doesn’t matter. Changes are occurring, immediate pressures were released, and the wheel slowed enough so that one could discern its spin. There is indeed more work to be done, but I have great faith it will happen. There is a good man at the helm of the ship.

I have continued “the conversation” with my students all year. In light of yet another school shooting, in Santa Fe, Texas. I was brutally direct and reminded them that they are the only vehicle available for change in this nutty world, they are the only hope.

We talked about standing up for what you believe in. Standing in your truth, and recognizing consequence is always the result of choice. The truth is always beautiful, even when it reveals the ugly underbelly of imperfection.

As I attended the 2018 graduation, I was reminded that my trust in the youth of this nation has not been misplaced, there are some remarkable young people entering the realm of adulthood. As the old year moves off and the dust settles, I can reflect on what has been one of the most challenging years I’ve had to date as an educator.

I can honestly say, I am glad to be where I am and look forward to continuing my journey in this little town.

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