Saturday, March 7, 2015

SOLSC March 7th - Kindness for the Invisibles

Join me as I participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Other "Slicers" can be found among my students in the comments of my class blog. There are also several hundred teachers participating at

A man in an Army green coat, walks down the sidewalk, leaning almost sideways against the weight of the car wheel he lugs on his right hip. His steps are jerky, the tire is flat and vapor streams out into  the chilly air with each explosive exhalation. I'm sure if he took off his hat, his head would quickly be enshrouded in a wreath of  steam. He's on a mission, he's at least middle-aged and he's black. Cars zip by on this early Saturday morning, their tailpipes adding more misty vapor to the atmosphere.

The barista lugs a large patio umbrella towards the front door, the sunshine and pale blue sky promising that today, after weeks of cold and snow, some patrons will choose to sit outside as temperatures reach into the 40s. Shoulder-length straight hair, bangs, glasses, and headset. She's no fashion model but she has smiled cheerily and greeted each person as they have entered today. The umbrella is comically larger than her short but sturdy frame. Will anyone get up to help her navigate the heavy door, or since she's part of 'The Help,' will she be invisible?

A student drops his things and the sounds of papers sliding, batteries rolling away from the calculator, and math textbook slapping the floor reverberate in the hallway. How many students will pass before someone kneels on the ground to help gather materials?

A colleague actually gives the start of a real answer to the, "How are you doing?" greeting rather than saying, "Fine-howareyou?" It's going to take some effort to be an active listener and whatever 'important task' that needs to get done will need to wait for a bit. But they did take a chance to open up. Who will accepts the charges for this call for a real interaction rather than the usual workplace saccharine smiles and head nods?

I get dozens of opportunities each day to show kindness, to participate in people's lives, to slow down and know someone deeper than that first layer of skin. I teach middle school students, who society at large seems to wish were invisible all the time; unseen and unheard. Letting one student, or many, go through the day without an opportunity for a real interaction with me in unacceptable, and on my worst days, that happens. I'm not okay with that. We all deserve to be seen and heard.


  1. As a quiet young man in my class got on the school bus one afternoon, I realized he and I had not spoken, or even made eye contact that day. I don't think it bothered him, he tried to stay in the background, but I NEVER let it happen again. Thanks for this reminder.

    1. I need to keep reminding myself too because each interaction is a decision. Giving students, and those around me in the world, the opportunity to interact on a real level, is a level of kindness that I continue to strive towards.

  2. Wow! Your writing is beautiful. You captured those snippets of life, forcing us all to face others. Thanks!

  3. These decisions about the subtly presented needs of others are the decisions that benefit both. Recognizing the opportunity to help someone is often missed because of our constant focus on ourselves and our busy busy schedules. I agree with you. Lift your eyes from your checklist and make eye contact. Model for children a person who seeks to deliver everyday kindnesses.

  4. You inspire us to notice with your writing.

  5. It is those that try to be invisible that need us most to pull them forward and be noticed in any small way we can. It can make all the difference in the world. I have a quote hanging in my two offices: "A small act of kindness can bring a colossal burst of sunshine to someone's day." Thank you for the reminder. We need more of them.

  6. Yes, I would help out, do anything I could. Next time I see someone who dropped there stuff, I'll pick it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. You inspire each day with your kindness. Thank you.