I had the opportunity to hear Kim Bearden co-founder of the Ron Clark academy speak today. It was an amazing presentation filled with ideas and creativity for my classroom. However, the line that stuck out to me most was not a classroom game, or song, or story but a simple quote, “Broken teachers can’t fix broken kids”. Wow. Drop the mic. That one statement had an impact on me perhaps more profound than any other advice I have gotten.
By a lot of measures last year my life fell apart. This was eye opening for me in a lot of ways. First of all I learned that there are people you come across everyday who seem to have it all that are barely holding it together. I focused too much on what I didn’t have. I focused on my shortcomings. I focused on everything that was going wrong and not on what was going right. Don’t get me wrong by all accounts I was still a “good teacher, mom, and friend” but in my heart I know I was only going through the motions. I was surviving day by day. I became increasingly negative. I didn’t share that negativity much but it was inside me eating away like a cancer. People saw the always outgoing and fun Brooke but I only saw myself withering away internally.
I was determined to straighten myself out over the summer. You know “find myself”, “seize the day”, “carpe diem”, blah, blah, blah. It was a great intention but I had no idea how to do it, and then when I thought I was changed and had bottomed out more changed. My hardest change by far was saying goodbye to my co-teacher Joe as he moved on to follow his own dreams. I was happy for him but inside, to be honest, I was bitter. I saw all that we had built and developed and imagined it slipping away as I worked to find myself with a new collaborating teacher. I saw myself doing the same things I said I wasn’t going to anymore. Those old negative thoughts started taking over again and I didn’t know how to reclaim control of all those dreams I had of changing the world.
Then came today and I heard that quote; “Broken teachers can’t fix broken kids”. I can’t tell you how monumental that was for me. My goal is to change the world for these kids but how am I going to do that if I can’t even change it for myself? The next words out of Kim’s mouth were the missing piece to my puzzle, “It’s not what happens to you but what happens through you”. That statement right there is magic. I have to leverage all that energy that is inside. I have to take those negative thoughts, the bitterness, the angst, and turn it into an energy that does nothing but raise these kids up. That is where my magic is. We can all fill pages and pages listing our shortcomings, failures, and defects but that does us no good. However, if we can take all those things, all that yucky stuff that we hate and put that energy into these kids we become more enlightened and empowered than we’ve never been before. I look at all the good I was able to do last year when I was just trying to survive and am honestly excited about the mountains we will be able to move this year when just the motions stop and the lifting up begins. I am telling you something amazing is getting ready to happen.
My question for you is this. What is holding you back from truly raising up the kids in your classroom this year? I challenge you to reflect seriously on that and figure it out and then figure out how you can channel what is holding you back into enlightenment in your classroom. Thank you Kim for doing that for me.