Have you ever taken a trip to the ocean? It is one of my most favorite places to be. The sights, sounds, and smells of the world are right at your fingertips. Standing at the water’s edge, you see waves and waves of warm, salty water moving like a mother rocking her baby in her arms. Looking straight ahead, you see rocks from the land that dip into the ocean water and beyond that, nothing but blue and the unknown. The smell of salt awakens your brain as you breathe deeply. Inhale, exhale. Decisions lie before you, should you take a step forward or stay put? You go.
You step further and further into the water and begin to swim, taking in all of the beautiful scenery. Soon you are not able to have the comfortable sand squish in between your toes. Your heart races. Coral of a variety of colors grow full of life under the blue water. Schools of fish swim back and forth, reminding you of synchronized swimmers whose water dance makes your heart happy. Swimming onward, the bottom of the ocean seems to get further and further away from the surface. And then all of the sudden, it is just you. You and the water, rocking back and forth. It is somewhat comforting and also terrifying being in the water, alone. Here you are surrounded in the beauty of the ocean, but you are swimming in the deep end of life and you are feeling isolated.
How often do students or staff feel this way? How do we reach those students in the deep end and bring them back to shore?
You float and move with the waves. Do you let the waves carry you away? Do you reach out for help? BUT you are not alone. Out from the depths floats the most beautiful, most chill sea turtle. He looks at you and almost seems to motion, “Hey, man. It’s all good. Come with me.”
Over the course of almost ten years in education, I have seen many teachers and students who put on a good show. Some look like that brave swimmer, but beneath it all, when no one is looking, they are terrified of what is out there, terrified of failure, disappointment, you name it. We are tasked to take notice. By building relationships with our colleagues and nurturing our students, we will find that we can help those who might be stuck. Teachers, we can reach in and pull others out of the depths with teamwork, collaboration, love, and care. But also through those relationships, we may find that when we need to be pulled out of the deep end, we have a strong support team, a family waiting to jump right in. The wise words of one of my fifth graders really brings this home, “Sometimes life can come in like a wave and get you, but together we can make a change.” We can make a difference together.
What will you do to reach out to your students and colleagues in the deep end?
Mena T. Hill
Educator, Wife, Mother, Colorado Native