Image: ©iStockphoto / Andrew Rich
I feel an exceptional amount of pride when I am able to tap into my skills as a bilingual speaker of English and Spanish to provide translation services to parents and students in my school.I eagerly await a moment when my colleagues will ask me to translate important school information to Spanish-speaking parents who yearn to be part of the classroom community despite their language abilities. I have found that parents with limited English skills are often nervous to ask questions so I always try to make myself available to help in ways that will alleviate any concerns they have regarding school procedures, classroom activities, or their child’s progress in the classroom. Recently I explained the steps to creating the time-honored “Flat Stanley” project to a parent of a first grader. I was proud to function as the bridge between teacher and parent to relay class information because otherwise the information may not have been received due to language barriers.
Teaching in the 21st century means that schools need to make it their mission to be inclusive of all diversities, languages, and cultures. We are preparing students for a future we are not even exactly sure will look like, sound like, or be like. So as educators we need to be inclusive of all people who enter our school buildings so that we can welcome them with open minds and open hearts.
There is always a reason why certain people cross our paths and enter our lives. It may not be for long but the reason is always unique to where you or they are on their journey. Being able to understand and navigate people is an extremely complex skill, albeit an important one. As humans we are all flawed and have areas of ourselves that need some improvement. Some of us are fighting harder battles than others. To bring understanding to relationships it is important that we remember to be open to others. Being open requires an embrace to your self, your thoughts, your actions, your words, and your heart. The practice of being open is especially important in schools where emotions typically drive people’s motivations. Schools are places where trust and understanding should be the foundation for all relationships. It takes time to cultivate these environmental qualities, but with patience, love, and care a school most definitely can be a place where relationships are fostered and cared for.
My professor showed our class a Jelaluddin Rumi poem yesterday. We spoke about the importance of communication and understanding people’s motivations. In learning your own motivations and that of other people and being ok with potential differences that arise, we can learn to function from a place of understanding.I hope this poem brings you peace as it has for me.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.