Who do you bring with you to work? One of my first feelings of inspiration as a counselor came early on in one of my counselor sub positions. As I started to feel close with the kids, and learn about their home lives and barriers, my perceived solutions often came from family advice I had been given to me at one time or another. When they were surprised by kindness, support, belief, and tough love, I began to feel more and more sad that these kids did not have such resources at home. I was raised in a gloriously crazy, large, ambitious family where there are copious and equal parts joy and work. I started wishing I could share my tribe with all of my students, and give them the tradition and fierce love I have been lucky enough to grow up with.
Since I couldn’t have my family members all come to work with me everyday, I realized that I could bring them in spirit. My paternal grandmother who had limitless optimism and faith in each individual; my maternal grandmother, a Sicilian matriarch who worked as hard as she expected of us, and loved with such conviction you had no choice but to believe in yourself; my aunt, who has lived her life with a disability and was more active and dreamed bigger than most able-bodied people. So many huge personalities come with me every day to work, and I try to be a channel to my kids so that they too can grow up with these lessons.
I am constantly telling my students, “be good” – sometimes softly, sometimes pleadingly, and sometimes with warning. My grandma always ended conversations with this simple expectation, and now that I’m an adult I see how meaningful it is.
Who do you bring to work with you? What is the endearing phrase that you use easily in your hallways, but that weighs generations of love?