I am reading a great book at the moment, and it asked me a question that really made me think. Really think. It asks the reader to go back into childhood and look at themes and patterns, saying that there will be one, you just have to find it.
The first sign of a pattern for me was Jacob*.
I was a music teacher, in my first or second year of teaching and was working in a Secondary School in England. It was the morning roll, every teacher has a ‘tutor group’ who come and spend 5 minutes with you morning and evening, you take the register of attendance and act as general point of contact between home and school for the 30 or so children in your tutor group.The principal came into the room with a child who he ordered to sit down in a spare seat. He then came and stated ‘this is Jacob’ continuing in a whisper behind his hand ‘but don’t worry about him, he will be out by Christmas.’ He then turned on his heel and left. I was horrified!
Jacob had a difficult home life, parents split, violent father, prostitute mother and three young siblings. He often came to school in incomplete uniform (or parts of his sister’s uniform because mum had not done the washing). He was regularly picked up for shoplifting (food, because mum did not feed him either). Jacob and I made lots of contingency plans to help him make it through the school day. I had some private practice rooms he came to use and brought his class work with him (if everything got too much in his regular classroom). I had a biscuit jar (as did the deputy principal). I took the place of the senior management in all his agency meetings outside school and things went well. Jacob was NOT out by Christmas, he was still in school the following August.
I was scheduled for a major operation at the start of the new school term in September. The principal saw this as his opportunity and permanently excluded Jacob the moment I was out on sick leave. I was devastated.
This sent my teaching career on a totally different path, I left that school and specialised in special needs teaching for the next 15 years. I taught petty criminals, violent offenders, physical and educational special needs children from all walks of life. I taught myself braille so I could help a blind child who lost her sight in a horrific car accident, I taught myself clarinet so I could teach another special needs child who was refused lessons (due to their special educational need). I even taught Sex education to teenage youth offenders and refereed rugby in a prison.
I was in my element. Helping people who needed that extra bit of help.
I am not interested in helping those who can help themselves, I want more. I am looking for people who have it tough, life is tough and they need a smile, a friendly face and someone to tell them they CAN do this. I am looking for people who might have complex health issues and fitness has been suggested to them, but they don’t know how to start in a way that is safe and a way that they can sustain.
I am looking for that person who says they have tried EVERYTHING else and it has all failed. That person that is at their wits end, because ‘nothing works’ or that person who just has not felt like they fitted in anywhere else.
I want that person who the doctor has almost given up on, who has maybe been told they should take these pills because there is nothing else they can do, that person who may have even accepted something like that, but has a small niggling feeling in their mind that there may be something more that can be done.
I want that person who BELIEVES they can achieve more, change their life, be the person they truly want to be, but just needs someone who believes in them enough to help them achieve that.
They need to be willing to accept help, willing to reach out a hand, listen and accept support from someone who truly does care about how they are, how they feel and what they are doing. They need to give me their all, 100% and be willing to step onto a new path. Because together, we can be fierce, awesome, unstoppable. And eventually, you will not need me, because you will be able to do all of this, on your own.
** the child’s actual name in this blog has been changed, to protect identity.