Resilience: Gifts of the Exceptionally Minded

I chose the title “Exceptionally Mindful” for this blog because over and over again I hear friends say to me, “I could never be a teacher, I don’t know how you do it.” To be honest, I don’t know how most of them work with adults all day but that is a whole other point…

While people often say that the best teachers are the most patient, I agree to a degree but I also feel like we have to be….exceptionally mindful. Our words hold so much weight to them and even after teaching for almost 9 years now, I still go home and think about whether I handled a situation right or said the right things.

Especially working with students who are struggling learners, I am even more mindful about what I say and how I act. School is already a challenging place for them, so I want to make sure that I create a relationship where at least they enjoy or feel good about facing that challenge with me.

I recently fell into the black hole of TED Talks, and stumbled on this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxkBqFbbAP0

Scott Sonnon, who is a five time world martial arts champion was sharing about his experiences growing up with a learning disability. It was crushing to hear about the verbal abuse he endured and it went as far as him being institutionalized. It made me wonder, IF he had been treated better, or his teachers were more supportive, would he have been as successful? Or was it that he was so resilient, that he finally found his gift and he became so incredibly successful. There are SO MANY successful and famous people who have learning disabilities, there is no doubt that every one has a gift. Did they become resilient because they have had to work harder to compensate for their disability- or is resilience innate and they are the ones who pushed through against all odds and made it out stronger?

As teachers, can we teach resilience? Can we measure it? Can we assess it? We may feel confident in our abilities to support our students, but they move on from us and won’t always endure the most supportive learning environment. Our words can be SO powerful, how can we best use them so our students leave us ready to face the world? I am getting a head of myself, but what truly has ignited my passion to become a learning specialist is the feedback I have been given by some of the families I have worked with. Last year I received a note that read, “Mrs. Staub, I know this year was not easy for you because of my son. We weren’t easy on you either. While some of the things you have shared with us were difficult for us to hear, it was only because you were able to put them in the most beautiful, nurturing but truthful words. You touched our family and while it will be hard for us to move on, we are so grateful we are now able to give him the support he needs thanks to you.” I am crying again as I type this, but yeah…our words matter.

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