Monday, September 17, 2018

COMPELLED: Week 2 - Compassion

Welcome to a new 15-week series where I share quotes, examples, and/or stories about 15 of the characteristics that I believe are demonstrated by Compelled Educators everywhere. 

I hope you will share your favorite quote or story each week in the comments below. You can also leave a comment on the Compelled Educator Facebook page

Compassion, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress with a desire to alleviate it." 

I had a professor in college who talked to us, future teachers, about having "with-it-ness." She meant that when we were in the classroom, we needed to be aware of everything... the talking in the back of the room, the passing of notes, the students who were wrestling with the content, and basically all of the actions and feelings that were happening in the room. I define that as BEING PRESENT. 

As educators who are compelled to do what we do, we have a greater purpose than just teaching content to our students. We have systems created for efficiency and we manage our classrooms, but greater than all of that, we teach the student about life. We pay attention to their needs, we notice when they're having an "off day." And we are fixers. We understand that our content is just the vehicle for us to be a part of our students' lives and to do what we can to help that student in whatever way we can at that juncture. 

We don't look ahead and talk about the future that is to come. We are PRESENT in the present. Kids come to us as kids with bigger issues than we had when we were their age. When we model and demonstrate compassion, kids know it. They see it and feel it. 

Don't underestimate the power of compassion. 

In an article in Education World, they share 10 ways to show active compassion. Here are my top three favorites from the article:

  •  Cultivate a deep appreciation of others by taking time to get to know them, asking carefully thought-out questions, and listening carefully to their answers. Develop the ability to sense how others are feeling by closely studying body language.
  • Maintain your temper and a calmness of mind even when faced with chaos or an explosive situation.
  • Keep an eye out for anyone who seems to be suffering in any way, perhaps a student looking unhappy or a colleague looking stressed. Try to help, perhaps by being an active listener.

The third item in the list above is extremely important to me. I made the difference for one of my students who was planning to kill himself. It was a moment that changed my life. 

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.   
-Leo Buscaglia

Share your stories of compassion in the comments below or connect with me on twitter

In case you missed it:
COMPELLED - Week 1 - Humility

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