Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Be The Difference!

Disclaimer: While most of this will be about my experience growing up in high school it is to relate to you my experience of the video link that Michelle tweeted. Do NOT feel sorry for me in any way. That is not what this post is about. Thank you.

Fun, friendship, learning and people that truly make me think. That is what twitter does for me.  Recently Michelle Baldwin, aka @michellek107 tweeted the following “Watching this--> The One Thing All Men Feel, But Never Admit ow.ly/n6ghM.” I clicked the link and sat mesmerized, but at the same time I was flooded with memories of growing up and not very good ones.
Being a middle child, bigger than most growing up I lived a life of Insecurity, inadequacy, and never being good enough, or at least that is what I thought. My size, in an all-boys middle school meant play sports or be ridiculed. I played and did my best until I broke a friends ribs near his spine. I walked away from football the next day. I also played basketball, ran track and tried out for the baseball team my freshman year. I enjoyed basketball except for the constant “don’t dribble the ball, rebound and pass.” Or walking down to the boys’ locker room to see if I made the baseball team only to be told by an upper classman “Wood, you don’t really think you made the team do you? Well you didn’t.” Be strong, don't show emotion.
My participation in sports dwindled and I was only playing basketball, at the same time my grades suffered. I felt inadequate. I wanted more but I didn’t want to open my mouth, I didn’t want to say anything that people might use against me, I didn’t feel good enough. One day in class one of my teachers asked what do you want to be when you grow up, my response was  "I want to be a psychologist." The room laughed. Be a man.
My junior year a new coach came along and had heard about my ability as a kicker, he also liked my size. He wanted me to come out and play football. I told him I would be happy to kick for him but that was it. He said fine. One week into the season I was told I was too big to just kick and they needed me to play full time. Tight end and defensive end. Maybe I could be someone playing football again.  I also made the baseball team that year and I was still playing basketball. My grades improved but I didn’t want to say anything, I didn’t want to be laughed at, I tried to do everything right so people would be OK with me. A safe life. A life that was never an adventure, I didn’t want to risk being ridiculed. Don't be a wimp.
Another new coach my senior year and I learned to hate football. I hated it enough to turn down offers. I played basketball but there were better players, I was tired of practicing and sitting. I didn’t want to be a minute man plus I knew I wasn’t going to play in college. We got new uniforms and they had to special order mine. I can still hear the ridicule from my own class mates from the bleachers. I played baseball and did OK. Stop being a wuss.

I could go on and on but this truly is not about me. However, many of you know me and the reason that I am writing this is all because of Michelle Baldwin and that tweet. With school preparing to start, we all know students, boys and girls that don’t “fit” what so very many think is the right mold. Help them to be the best students, people, individuals that they can be, please. All it takes is for you to be interested, to take a moment, show up at a game, stop and talk in the hall, sit with someone at lunch.

We say it is OK for our students to fail but what about the one’s that are fine with academics but feel they are already failing life? Are we looking out for them? Be the difference. Please be the difference that you are capable of being. I could have used a teacher that picked up on what was going on. I am thankful I never made the decision to follow through with what I had concocted in my head during my senior year. Otherwise, there are so many of you wonderful people I would have never known.

Be the difference this year.

Still so much to learn and so little time.

13 comments:

Alfred Thompson said...

Great post. At my school we talk about each student being "known valued and treasured." My first head of school there used to ask the faculty to look out for the students who needed a friend and to be that friend. It's one reason I value the school so much.

dhasty01 said...

Amazing post. Thanks for the message and I lift my head high towards all of the young men I inspire. Those I know of and the many I don't.

Miguel Guhlin said...

Paul, thank you for sharing! Here's my response:
http://www.mguhlin.org/2013/08/be-difference-growing-comfortable-with.html

With appreciation,
Miguel Guhlin
Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org
http://mguhlin.org

Ann DeBolt said...

Very nice, Paul. Thank you for expressing yourself so eloquently. We educators need to always be aware that the smallest kindness we offer can make a big difference.

Busy Bee Andrea said...

Paul. . Thank you so very much for sharing this! I am so thankful that I have you in my PLN! Thank you for the reminder :)

William Chamberlain said...

I just read this and I am glad I did. It reinforced a conversation I had with one of my classes last Friday. I called one of the girls I knew a 'nerd', the class laughed of course. I explained that the word nerd to me was a huge compliment. Calling her a nerd was a sign of huge respect, one I don't give to everybody. I want to take back that name and make it positive.

Paul R. Wood said...

Alfred, I appreciate your thoughts and I truly appreciate your friendship. It is so very important to know those we serve as educators. Thanks again.

Paul

Paul R. Wood said...

Desmond, Thank you for your words and thoughts. I most especially appreciate the work that you do and am glad you stopped by. Have a great year.

Paul

Paul R. Wood said...

Miguel Guhlin, You sir have always been an inspiration ot me. I have followed you for so long and you have definitely had an influence on this old man. It is amazing the things that we carry and how they influence the rest of our lives. I am blessed to know the people that I do as they have truly influenced me.

Thank you and I am truly glad to be able to call you friend.

Paul

Paul R. Wood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul R. Wood said...

Ann DeBolt, thank you for your kind words. Sometimes we are the absolute best thing that happens to a child. We must be there for all of them.

Thank you and have a great year.

Paul

Paul R. Wood said...

Busy Bee Andrea, and I am glad you are in my network. Thank you for your kind words and thank you also for all the work that you do to make the lives of students a better experience.

Paul

Paul R. Wood said...

William Chamberlain, Thank you for your thoughts and for stopping by my site. There are so many words I would like to make positive but so many more I would like to see eliminated. Keep building those students up so they fully understand what being positive can do for them. Thanks again William.

Paul