A friend of mine shared this story with me. Because my reaction to this was “wow”, I’m choosing to pass it on. The author is unknown. I didn’t see an official title so I plucked the title above from one of the paragraphs.

“Every Friday afternoon a teacher asks her 11 year old students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, she is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” The teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of their eyeshot – and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

The teacher explained that she has been doing this ever since Columbine, every single Friday afternoon since Columbine. This insightful woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.”

The focus of this blog is “feeling better now”. So, after reading this story, how do we get to a place of feeling better now? Though this story is insightful, it doesn’t make us feel better unless we choose to focus on the solution instead of the problem. You will know which one you’ve chosen by how you feel. If you chose to focus on the problem you won’t feel as good as if you chose to focus on the solution. Focusing on the solution always feels better.

Here’s an example of two thoughts that we could choose after reading this article and both are true. Which feels better?

1. Focusing on mass shootings or disenfranchised children at schools
2. Choosing to feel appreciation for the new insight this article brings and for the creativity and wisdom of this teacher

Where do we choose to put our focus? Yes, we have a choice about this. Though the first automatic thoughts that popped into our head may not be very helpful, we can acknowledge them and replace them with something that is more positive.

In life, it’s not a matter of, “will difficult or challenging things come our way?” We know they will. The question is, how can we feel better or uplift ourselves when they do? What choice can we make that will shift us from a place of anxiety/worry, depression or anger to one that feels slightly better? Sometimes all of our choices seem unappealing. In that case, ask yourself which one is the least unappealing?

To address what’s wrong in our society, our family, or our lives, there is only one place to look. It is in changing ourselves, because our responses are the only things we can control. When we become less angry, impatient, resentful, fearful, judgmental/blaming, distant, unforgiving, etc. our lives, and everything our lives touch will improve.

With love, Jackie

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