I originally wrote this post for Felice over at The Dabbling Speechie as part of her Monday Motto series. I thought that with the start of school this week for myself and a lot of you, it may be a good time to share this post here.
Working as a school based speech-language pathologist can be really hard sometimes. Our caseloads are huge, the students have so many different and diverse needs, and the paperwork (oh, the paperwork)! But, seeing my kids make gains in any of their goal areas just makes my day all the better.
Getting kids to make gains in their goal areas is change. We help make changes every day. Nothing gives me more joy that hearing from a former student or parent that I helped make a change for the better in someone's life.
Another difficult part about working in the schools is at times it gets a little negative. Teachers and staff are overworked, and at times under appreciated. This can lead to some negativity. I have heard people say that they won't go into the teachers lounge because it is too negative. I haven't heard this at just one school, but rather, at every school I have worked at. I do go to the teachers lounge. I find it to be a great time to connect with other staff and teachers which in the end, I believe, helps our students. The one thing I do try to do when I am in the teachers lounge is to not engage in negative talk. It is so easy to get sucked in- trust me it has happened to me. But I thought, if I want to see a less negative teachers lounge, maybe I should be the change first.
Now when I go into the teachers lounge, I go in positive. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be Pollyanna throwing rainbows and glitter all around the room, but I don't get sucked into the really negative discussions. I understand that people need to vent, and that is ok. I just don't engage when the conversation goes in a negative, absolutely not constructive way. I try to find a positive, or provide an idea that may help.
One last way that I try to be the change every day is in the hallway. Every day at my school I stand at the entry hallway with two or three other staff and greet students as they come into school. I get to see these energetic beings bounce in every day mostly with smiles on their faces. Sometimes, however, we get some really sad friends come into school. We don't know what has happened before they came in that day. To be the change, we try to greet as many students as we can. I can't even count how many kindergarten hugs and fist bumps we get! But, it is those students who don't come in with a smile that we can actually make a big difference with. I can't even tell you how many times we have greeted a student with a frown on their face and then stopped to talk with the student. Many times something little has happened either on the bus, in the car with a sibling, or just a generally rough morning. Letting our little friends get it out many times helps turn that frown around, and they bound away to their class ready to start their day. Other times, we find out about really bad things that have happened. This is so hard, but we are able to find them help in the way of their teacher, principal, or other staff that can help them for more serious situations.
I know that these 10 minutes in the morning aren't "in my contract" but I wouldn't change them for anything. The days when I have a meeting or something else going on at the time the bell rings, I miss my little friends. What I have realized is that I am not the change, they are. They help me so many days when I have come in with the weight of family things in my head. They help me smile on tough days.
I have now come to realize that the reason I have been so drawn to this quote is that I feel like we all live it every day. Every day we have a chance to "be the change." Whether it is by working on therapy goals, bringing some positivity to a discussion, or simply helping bring a smile to someone's day. Big or small, we can all be the change.