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Delaney’s Deliberations: Between Wild and Wise

Posted on: October 15th, 2014 by ldelaney No Comments

What happened between wild and wise? I used to like to be considered wild, but now, at 65 years of age, I feel I have earned the right to be considered wise. You know, “A wise old woman once told me….” Well, I want to be that “wise old woman” (there is still a bit of “wild” in there, but that’s another tale) and share some of my WISE thoughts gained through 45 years as an educator.

I’VE SEEN…
How hard it is for parents to watch their child struggle, whether it’s academically, socially with peers, with a sibling relationship, or with an internal struggle handling their own emotions. And I’ve seen how hard it is as the parent struggles to figure out how to help their child- should I get tougher, get easier, be a more patient parent, stop yelling, stop giving in, hope they will grow out of it…

I have watched parents blame themselves or their spouses, blame the school, the environment, other kids, other parents, TV, peer pressure, lack of sleep, wrong foods, or blame the child himself for not being motivated to change, to achieve. Parents search for the right answer- maybe if I read one more book, consult one more expert, attend one more conference or workshop…

But, in all these years, never yet have I met a parent who has totally given up- they might be disappointed, discouraged, overwhelmed, over-tired, over-mad, but I always see at least a small spark of hope, a burning desire to try one more thing, to gather up one more ounce of energy to try to help their kid.

I’VE OBSERVED…
I’ve also never met a teacher who doesn’t wish they could figure out how to reach each child, how to bring out the best in each student. They might look like they have given up because they don’t seem to “get it”, but that might be because of a lack of knowledge, training, or experience, or it might be because they feel restricted by the “system”, number of kids in their class, lack of support, or they are just “burned out” from the daily battle. Then a smile of one student, watching a student have an “aha” moment of understanding, a thank you note from a parent, trying something new that actually works- any one of these can ignite the fire again and I watch as teachers renew their willingness to reach a bit deeper within themselves to help that one unique student.

I KNOW…
Most importantly, I have never met a child, from Kindergarten to college who doesn’t want to succeed academically, socially and emotionally. This can get lost or misinterpreted, though, because if they lack the skill to succeed, this can be covered up by inappropriate behavior- they might lash out, retreat, appear angry or depressed, scream or cry, push others away or hold on to them too tightly, give up or fight back, refuse to work or work too quickly, or just put their head down in total defeat. Yet, when I have had the opportunity to get to know a child 1-1, when he can get past the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of disappointing, the fear of looking stupid, when a child lets us peer beneath the surface behaviors – I always discover a child who still hopes there is an answer to his struggles, an adult who believes in him, and an internal motivation to succeed.

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