In just about every single one of my poverty trainings, I talk about how gratitude and optimism are not innate to our kiddos who come from generational poverty.
I challenge teachers to model those 2 concepts to their students on a regular basis.
I encourage teachers to help their students see beyond the here and now; not necessarily all the way to their post-secondary options, but just the possibilities for the next hour or the next day.
I invite teachers to purposefully & continually express their appreciation for their students' efforts (both academic & behavioral) so that they will then in turn learn to express their own appreciation for what others do for them.
I remind teachers that an inability to express gratitude is not a byproduct of bad manners. I remind teachers that an inability to see optimism is not because our kids don't want to have hope.
Because you see, these 2 things may not be innate to our students, but they CAN. BE. TAUGHT.
And quite frankly, they MUST. BE. TAUGHT. if we ever want to have a chance at breaking the cycle of what generational poverty does to a child's mind and to a child's spirit.
So now, let me take off my Professional Development hat and put on my mom/Kelli/caregiver/parent/provider hat. (I never know quite what to call that other hat I wear on a daily basis, but you get the idea.)
I admit that I struggle with this concept that I teach to others in my personal life.
I know what to do and I do it, I think, pretty well and pretty consistently.
And some days I truly think it's working, but other times, I doubt. And when I doubt, I doubt big.
For a smart girl, I really struggle with math; everyone knows that.
And one particular mathematical equation has really stumped me the last 3 years.
My mathematical dilemma:
At what point (I guess we can call that rate of change) does my empowering, my nurturing, my loving, and my teaching begin to overpower (kind of like the distributive property?) the years of disappointment, hopelessness, trauma, and neglect to create a new end result (not sure if that's a sum or a product or maybe a quotient)??
At what point does the receiver of the empowerment, the love, the nurturing, and the lessons realize he can EXPECT MORE from life (isn't that an algebraic transformation? Flipping the negative to the positive)??
I am not writing today looking for answers.
I think I am writing today because like the old adage says, confession is good for the soul.
Confession that I don't have it all figured out.
Confession that it absolutely crushes my spirit that I don't have it all figured out yet.
Confession that while I don't have it figured out (yet), I am not giving up.
"The Blind Side" would lead you to think that it only takes about 120 minutes to reverse the effects of generational poverty in a kid's mind and in his spirit, but I am here to tell you that I don't think it's a finite thing with beginning and ending points. It's not about just changing a kid's address.
And just about the time you think you are moving forward, it sends you reeling back a few steps, a few hundred yards....
Every language you can think of has a word for it, so that tells us a bit about its importance in the everyday lives of human beings. And it confirms the fact that while I am a bit discouraged today, I will continue to try again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.
I will try and try until that mathematical equation ends up with an answer that shows that the PRESENT finally wins over the PAST so that the FUTURE has a shot at being all we want it to be.