Thursday, January 16, 2014

Connecting w/My Students via "Guys' Lunch"

I believe in the power of connection.  I believe in the impact one adult can make.

In my own life, I've seen how much someone spending time with you can make a difference.  I am the product of the time that other adults have put into me.  I will forever be indebted to the time that my two Youth Ministers spent teaching me just how important I was and helping me find a voice.

In saying that, every year I've done a "Guys' Lunch" with my 5th grade boys.  We meet a few times a year, have lunch in my room and just chat.  Am I leaving the girls high and dry?  No, my female team teacher takes on the girls.

In the years past it has just been a time to get together with my male students and connect and learn what qualities a young man should have.  This year I decided I wanted to do things a little differently.  This group of guys that I have this year are incredibly kind hearted and amazing young leaders.  I wasn't going to have to do a lot of the "expectations" stuff I've done before.

This last year I've also learned a little more about myself.  I'm not young, but I've done some serious growing up this last year.  And because of that I wanted to bring more heart and honesty to my "Guys' Lunch".

Today was our first one (I know I'm a little late to the game).

To say I was floored by my male students would be an understatement.  I was also a little surprised by my honesty.

So today we all gathered in my room for lunch.  We spent about half the time just hanging out and building relationships.

The second half of the time we delved into the lunch's topic which was: the family we come from.  I shared my story of coming from a broken home.  And surprisingly I got a little emotional.  I'm not 100% sure why.  I think it was a culmination of looking at the eyes of those kids that related to my story as well as me actually sharing my story.  You see, I've never actually shared with anyone about the kind of environment I grew up in.  Yes, I've said I come from a divorced family, but that's about the extent I've shared because I've always felt that people didn't need or want to hear my story.

But today, I shared a little of my story.  And the boys each shared whether they came from a home of both parents, one parent, or someone not their parents.  We talked about how the home environment we come from doesn't define us at all.  I shared an example about the person I could have become if I had allowed my circumstances to define me.  And we talked about not judging anyone because of the environment they came from and taking the time to see everyone for who they are.  We also talked about how even the people that look like they have the most perfect life and most perfect family have problems and things they wish they could change.

It was a powerful moment when the boys started sharing stories about how some of them deal with things at home, how some see their parents fight every day, and more.  The honesty in the room was awe inspiring.

Why do I share this story with you?  I want to continually show the power of an adult connecting with a child.  Of reaching more of the child than just the academics.  For when you reach a child's heart, you've really reached them, and I can't wait to see what the future "Guys' Lunches" are going to bring because the boys have requested we do them every other week (they wanted every week, but there's too much going on this spring semester at our school, haha).