The classroom I have been working with is a second grade, integrated class. For those of you who need a little clarification, an integrated class incorporates typically developing students and students with disabilities. Students with disabilities receive integrated co-teaching services and are educated with age appropriate peers in a general education classroom. Working in this setting was challenging but so very rewarding. I sat with kids struggling to focus, to read, to control their emotions … so I helped them to focus, I read their problems to them, I rubbed their little backs and helped them reposition themselves in their seats or elsewhere in the classroom to maximise their comfort and ability to successfully complete their work.
Throughout the year, the class as a whole, had been working on a Math project for the local Math Fair. Their project was submitted and they won first place in a district wide competition. The teachers and students were so thrilled that their hard work and creativity had been recognized. The day their award was announced, the Principal came down to visit the class and danced and jumped up and down with them. It was precious to watch – what an incredible and inspirational Principal!
So on the morning of the end of the year celebration the classroom was buzzing with excitement. The students were thrilled to show their families the work they had completed throughout the year, their first place Math Fair project, and simply to have their family there in their classroom. And the teachers were thrilled because every child “had someone show up!” Except for one little guy …
This little guys was one of my buddies, one of the kiddos that I had been working with, a precious boy with the sweetest smile. And my heart kinda broke in that moment as I watched him looking around the class as all the other children excitedly greeted their family members. Some of the children were greeted by parents, others by grandparents or aunts and uncles. This little guy had no one. I did what I could to fill in and had him show me his work, walked around with him and one of the other teachers made sure he had a plate of food. One of the things that touched my heart the most though, was watching another mom fill in the gap in her own way. I don’t know if she knew his back story, I don’t know how she figured out that he was there on his own and needed a little extra love. What I do know is this, she made time for him, she showed up for him, and sat down to look at all his work, discussing it and commenting on each piece.
In that moment, I was struck by the phrase, “show up,” and I thought of all the ways I questions myself, second guess myself, and judge myself as a parent when really all my daughter needs is for me to show up and to be present in her life. Because if I am showing up, I am saying … “I am invested in you, I am supporting you, and I love you!” We make mistakes, we are not perfect, we all do the best we can with what we have but what matters in every aspect of our lives, is that we choose to show up.
You can not fail … unless you quit! – Abraham Lincoln
So I challenge you, Show Up! In your own life and in the lives of those around you because that’s what really matters. And if you see someone, on their own and in need of some extra love and support, show up for them too. And these words I read this morning seem such a perfecting ending …
“I promise to care – If you are hurting or have been knocked down or are fighting against the monsters of privilege and injustice, I promise to hurt too. This is the only way that I myself can fight with you, but I will be dedicated to the task … I know I am offering up my heart for a task it is not equal to, but I have the First Heart on my side and that’s a foundation worth standing on.” – Hannah Paasch