There are certain words that strike us. Words that bring about feelings of happiness, sadness, frustration, anger. Trigger words. Words that remind us of who we once were…and remind us of who we hoped to be.
I have had a very long day and been on the brink of tears for some time. Hell, I’ve had a long month. Fine. A long school year and it’s only November. Part of me feels as though the last one never really ended and despite all the new beginnings and good things, there’s been no down time to be able to really start fresh despite two brand new planners, a multitude of productivity and inspirational podcasts, nightly meditations about knowing my worth, and revising my own rituals to make them better so that I feel as though the self-care that I know I need is really happening. But I have felt lost for a long time, as though somewhere I left a big piece of myself somewhere else…setting it in a box and tucking it away safely for later in favor of all the things that others felt were important or all the things that simply needed to be taken care of.
Tonight a friend uttered a magic word as he made a request of me that I haven’t thought about in a while, except in those infrequent passionate conversations with people who get it when frustration is winning and tears sting my eyes. I figured that others had forgotten or that they never saw it to begin with.
Let me explain. I write a lot about my Why, which right now reads like this:
To engage in work that impacts the world around me positively so that others can grow, learn, and honor one another.
I’ve felt for a long time that my Why Statement was general, and that was fine, but there was something missing.
The days that I feel best about my work involve giving our kids opportunities to self-advocate or advocate for others, whether that’s talking with a teacher about modifying a project or activity, taking the lead on something that could make a difference, or speaking up about how to best support a peer. The days I go home happiest are the days I get to talk with parents and am trusted to support them in advocating for their kids and their needs, even if the conversation was difficult or complicated. The days I feel good about the work I do are those in which I get to share some of the best practices we’ve developed and implemented over time that benefits the kids we serve. The days I feel accomplished and fulfilled are the days that I get to share a bit of what these kids, these tall poppies, really need us to know and do on their behalf to make their lives better, their school experiences meaningful, and help them go off into the world and do good…whatever that might look like for them.
I get to do a lot of things in my current role and generally, I appreciate that I’ve been entrusted with all of those things–I wouldn’t have been asked if someone didn’t think I was capable. I use the word “get” intentionally, for the record, but the to-do list is ever-growing and all of the things are important in some way to the greater good. With all of those responsibilities though, something has to get set aside. I’ve felt all year that something was off–I was missing a piece of myself, not getting to the really important bits, and not often leaving school at the end of the day feeling like I’d done much in support of the things that really matter.
That piece that’s been missing is advocacy for these glorious gifted kids.
It’s why I choose to work where I do and want so much to help teachers SEE the kids they’re serving. Not the behaviors. Not the work that gets done too fast or too slow or not at all. But SEE WHO THE KIDS ARE.
It’s why I choose to present at conferences and spend hours of my own time creating what I hope will be a meaningful session to the people who choose to spend an hour with me, all the while hoping that they leave the room being able to look at one of their kids a bit differently when they go back into their classroom on Monday.
It’s why I revise wording in outreach emails meticulously, and ask lots of questions so that I understand better what people are in need of learning. Do they want a quick fix, or do they want to really learn about who these kids are and what they need?
It’s why when I talk with other educators I get so incredibly upset when they can’t find their way to seeing that gifted kids NEED people who are willing to go the extra mile and think outside the box and provide an education that is meaningful to them.
It’s why when one of our kids is hurting or struggling, it hurts me that much more–whatever pain they’re experiencing is so multi-faceted…and so many only see one facet of it, trying to insist it’s something simple.
It’s why I seek out others who get it–people who know what it is to not quite fit and who are able to see past the pieces of these kids that others see as faults and see the beauty of who they truly are.
It’s why I find it so hard to say no when there’s critical information that needs to be shared to better help people, everyone from parents to the guy who came to fix the cable to teachers to politicians, to understand who these amazing kids really are…truly see them.
Gifted is who they are, not what they produce and not what they do. Gifted kids need advocates. They need people to stand up on a soapbox and tell the world that they need for us to make changes to how we’re doing things to ensure that they all learn something every day, that they all grow, that they all know that they are SEEN.
Thanks for helping me see the thing that’s been missing, friend. Thanks for seeing me.