Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Hug that Changed Me

Years ago, when I was a high school assistant principal, I had Eric in my office.  He had been in my office many times before, and I don’t remember why he was in my office that day.  He was what we called, a “hard” kid.  He was tough, in a gang, and saw little value in school.  I had learned that the misbehavior of students was only the symptom of other issues going on, but I often got caught up with the need to be "efficient" in my job.  At times, I felt like my office had a revolving door.  For some reason that day, I decided to try and connect with Eric.  I asked Eric a lot of questions about his life, his family, and his goals.  It was very evident that he had it rough.  As far as I could tell, he had very little going for him and had very little support.  At the end of our talk, I asked him about the last time he had a hug.  I remember very vividly his response because it crushed me.  He said, “Mr. Steele, I don’t even remember.”  I walked around my desk, and as I hugged him, I said, “Eric, I don’t know where you’ll be in ten years, or what you’ll be doing … but I want you to remember that there was a guy who cared enough about you to give you a hug.”
I have no idea where Eric is now ... or what he is doing.  I don’t know if he remembers that hug. 
 I do.  
When I think of that hug, I’m reminded of why we do what we do.  I’m reminded that we see students every day who desperately need our time, our support, and indeed, our love.  Students walk our halls; they sit in our classes; and we have no idea what they’re dealing with. We get frustrated when they’re tardy, when they’re out of dress code, when they are not prepared, when they are inattentive and disengaged.  When I think of Eric, I remember that sometimes … a student might need a hug more than they need our “lesson.”

11 comments:

  1. Yes! A hug can be the secret ingredient to helping someone get past a trouble spot! A hug shows love, compassion, kindness, and that you give a damn! No words are even required!

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    1. Maureen, thank you for taking time to read this! You will forever be the first person to comment on my first post of my first blog! (And we will only ever impact those kids that we take the time to connect with. For some kids, hugs could be heroic.)

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  2. Spot on! It's of the utmost importance that we learn our who our students are inside and outside of the school setting. They remember, trust me. Looking forward to reading more from you!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading this! You're right ... there's always more than meets the eye.

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  3. Great story, Danny. We all get so bogged down in the day to day that we lose sight of what's really important-people!! Thank you for sharing. These are the stories that push us all to do better, to see our kids for who they are and the struggles they have, and to make a difference!!

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  4. Thanks for reading this, Christy! I appreciate your encouragement.

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  5. Nothing more important than the human touch! Thank you for sharing this story.
    Rebecca McKay

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read this, Rebecca! And for your affirmation of the importance of connecting with our students!

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  6. I'm so glad that you shared this story Danny and I'm glad that I found it --and you --on Twitter! Thank you. The hugs that I give and receive each day at school represent the essence of my teaching philosophy; it's all about relationship. For learning and growth to occur, for me and for my students, we must be "in relationship." We must care about and respect one another so that we can give and receive feedback.Throughout my career I have been given the gift of on-going connections with students who "hug me"with Facebook messages, texts and emails. I will forever be grateful for these relationships because through them I can continue to learn and to grow. Aren't we so fortunate to do the work we do? Sending you a "Cyber-Hug" from Frau!

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    1. Great to hear from you Frau! And thanks for taking the time to read this post ... and my tweets! It's all very new to me, but I'm just jumping in head first. It's all about the relationships with our students ... that's for sure!

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  7. Hey Danny! I've always enjoyed reading what you lost, and for some reason today your first blog came up in my feed. Great read sir! I wrote a similar post on my own. Unless the behavior is something really serious, discipline always starts as a 1-1 conversation with the student. I believe it makes expectations clear while respecting the student, and I have seen how far that can go in building a deep meaningful relationship with the student. I have that "Eric", and think of her often. She still comes to me when she needs help.

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