I've had an interesting week as it relates to the word "Beautiful". Let's start with what is closest to my heart. My daughter, Katya, had a concert tonight, and her mom did her hair up in curls. I've always known it from the first time I laid eyes on her, that she is beautiful.
But tonight, she took on a different beautiful that I had not seen yet. Her happiness was showing through, and she felt beautiful, too. She knew she had her hair curled, and she had on a pretty shirt with a pretty skirt, and a special necklace.
I realized when I told her she looked beautiful, that I don't tell her that enough.
You may see the almond shaped eyes, flat bridge to her nose and think some other things about her. I'm sorry for those who see those things as deficits. I'm sorry for those who see her disability first.
On Facebook the other day, the awesome PTA president at my school shared this link. The title is "Mom's powerful photos of her daughters show 'Strong is the New Pretty'". Strong is the new pretty? I beg to differ. Strong has always been pretty. Sadly, in society we apparently have thought that strong and pretty could not coexist. How sad for us.
How easy it is for us to see our flaws in ourselves and think that we are not beautiful. How wrong we are. Of course we all have flaws. None of us is perfect. But each of us has something that makes us beautiful. No matter who we are. Just imagine if we could see each other as beautiful all the time. Just imagine how we would change how we treat others. We would have patience. We would love others more. We would put others first more.
A couple years ago a student did something wrong and after I reported his behavior to the office, he waited in my classroom after school to cause me harm. And he would have. Luckily, it worked out ok. I never saw him after that, but I will never forget his face. To me, for a long time, he was not beautiful. He was mean, angry, and all that was wrong with the world. But a couple years later, I learned that I needed to look at people with less judgment.
I had actually learned this lesson long ago, when a physically handicapped man kept doing something that annoyed me. I judged him harshly, and spoke poorly of him to my friends and in my mind, but never to his face. For some reason everyone loved this guy, and he just annoyed me. As I was judging him one day, I had the realization that his handicaps were visible, and mine were not. I have flaws, many of them, and I hid them as much as possible. He couldn't hide his. Once I saw that different side of
me, I realized that he was a good human being who was also beautiful. I feel sorry for me that I only saw his flaws.
Some time after that student was in my classroom, and his face haunted me, I started to look at him differently. I saw the scar on his face and thought of the trauma that he went through to get that scar. I have a scar on my face, and the way I got mine was much less traumatic than the way he got his. I thought about his deep brown eyes that had seen so much in his short 15 years. I thought about his hands that could manipulate a tool is such a way that he could repair anything. I thought about a story he told me about working with his dad on a truck and taking it from dead to the world to a smooth driving machine. The lesson I had learned years ago finally caught up to me again, in a meaningful way. When I picture this student in my mind now, I don't see the anger, the hate, the frustration, the years of abuse.
I see a beautiful young man who was trying to deal with too many things out of his control.
Here's the thing. We are all beautiful. We all have that within us. I cannot look at a child and see anything but that. When I see kids struggling at my school, I don't see hooligans that deserve whatever punishment they get. I see young people who haven't learned how to navigate this world yet. They need someone to see them for what they are and help them.
Which brings me to my third interaction with "beautiful" this week. Sammie Cervantez (@principalnheels) said this in her blog post](https://principalinheels.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/whats-your-work/):
Indeed, my friends, that is where the real work is. In between teaching youngsters the three Rs (am I showing my age?), professionally developing teachers in hopes of staying current on a range of topics, and developing both short and long term school plans and budgets…we are responsible for creating the next generation of beautiful.
And what is it that I want the next generation of beautiful to be? Adventurous and affectionate. Compassionate and courageous. Confident and captivating. Fun and fearless. Grateful and giving. Intelligent and imaginative. Passionate and philanthropic. Strong and sassy. Radiant and resourceful. Talented and thoughtful. Unashamed and unwavering.
I chose to be in education to help kids reach their full potential. I know I can be successful in another career, but I choose education because I believe that if we create in kids the beauty of tomorrow (as Sammie would say), we can really change the world.
And this is really the foundation for why I believe so strongly in student-focused discipline. Student-focused discipline helps us see the beauty in the world. It helps us build relationships with those we are serving.
We are all beautiful, let's start seeing each other that way. We are all beautiful, let's start treating each other that way.