Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Love Me For Who I Am, Not Who You Expect Me to Be

Why Not Give Adults the Same Courtesy & Respect We Give Students?

Dear Readers,

One of my favorite sayings to both adults and students is:

"Do not ask a question that you are not ready to hear the answer to."

Working with middle school students has really caused me to be open-minded and expect the unexpected. Over time and with experience, I know when I pose a question, statement or topic I need to be ready for the response they want to give and not the one I am looking for. Otherwise, why ask in the first place?

It seems as though we talk about treating every student as an individual and knowing them emotionally, socially, academically.....the whole child. Why does it seem as thought we do not always treat adults with the same respect and courtesy?

We can control our words and actions, but we cannot control someone else's. People have the right to react how they want whether it be good, bad or ugly. As adults, do we really accept that about each other? A student mouths off to us and we dig deeper and discover there are problems at home. An adult has a reaction we were not expecting and all kinds of assumptions are made.

For example, it is extremely interesting to talk with people about suicide. It is part of my vocabulary. Is it typical conversation for most people? Probably not because it has not impacted their world. However it has found its way into my world twice. The first time, the person survived thankfully. The second time the person did not. Both family members. Both unexpected. Both male. It is most definitely part of my life. 

That's just the tip of the iceberg in the life of Teresa Gross (she/her/hers). I have dealt with things people could never imagine. Everything that has happened has caused me to be the person I am today. I sincerely would not go back and change any of it. 

I have found the people I have established friendships with and maintain those friendships are those that truly and sincerely accept me for the good days and the bad, the laughter and the tears, the happy moments and the sad, are willing to listen but know when to give me space. They know when I am having an "off day" that sometimes they need to just "give it back to me" and offer up some tough love. You know who are! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship.

As we enter the holiday season, but keeping this in mind every day of the year, let's give each other the same respect we give students. 

  • Don't assume you know everything about a person.
  • Don't make assumptions based on actions or words, dig deeper and find out what might be causing that response.
  • Don't always take things personally, sometimes the person might just be having a bad day. 
  • Understand that holidays are not joyful times for all. They can be extremely emotional for some. 
  • It's okay for people to be sad, angry, down, etc. They should never be judged or ashamed about being real.
  • Be patient and kind with people. You never know what anniversaries they might be dealing with on any given day. Anniversaries can be tough.
  • Offer a smile, an ear, a hug, an never know how much that can mean to someone.

Mental health is so difficult, by making assumptions about people we are adding to that stigma. If we want students to be global, empathetic citizens we need to model that, really model that with everyone.

As always this time of year, I am grateful for all of you who inspire me, encourage me, love me, accept me, challenge me and are just there for me. You will never know how much it means to me.