Recognizing Hope

Suicide is rising as feelings of hope are diminishing.  I work at a school and see how often teachers and administrators focus on what is wrong, how kids are failing, and how to test to find more things wrong.  Hyper-focusing on all the negative we reach a point of only seeing the negative.  Our school district recognized this downward view was obliterating what is good in the schools.  Now once a day an email is sent out that tells about one good thing happening in the school district.  I notice that I look forward to reading these emails.  I am happy for the teachers that win awards for “Most valuable teacher,” the students that succeed, the people that are doing wonderful things are recognized.  How often do I recognize the good things that I am doing? I just came through 6 months of really tough stuff.  I felt overwhelmed by all the things I didn’t get done.  I felt incompetent and like I failed.  This week I am reevaluating that assumption.  I am spending this week thinking about and considering what did I do right these past 6 months.  I was given an almost impossible task with little or no support from the school.  I was told repeatedly “why didn’t you do this,” “where is this report,” or “why haven’t you done this for this student?”  Simple answer many times I didn’t know that needed to be done and if I knew it needed to be done I didn’t know how to do it.  I’ll give you an example.  At our school some students have a written plan for improvement.  A list of things a teacher is supposed to do to assist students to succeed with helping in reading, math or other areas that are deficient.  One of these students was getting a failing grade.  The person overseeing the success of the students came to me wanting an explanation as to why I wasn’t accommodating her needs.  The student was only attending about once a week.  I looked at the woman demanding answers and replied, “I can’t accommodate someone that isn’t here.”  Then I was informed that I needed documentation that I attempted to contact the girl and find out why she wasn’t attending classes.  Please understand, because of my position of substitute I didn’t have access to her home phone or the list of accommodations I was supposed to be doing in the first place.  All the outside attention was focused on the one student I didn’t reach.  Nothing was said about the 40 others I was helping.  I believe that my perspective that I failed is skewed.  I am reviewing events.  I was setup to fail.  All focus was on what I did wrong.  I can’t expect someone else to recognize what things I was doing right.  I now appreciate the value of my counselor assignment to think about each day and find one good thing.  Interesting thing as I recognize one good thing I start to see another good thing.  I challenging myself to focus for 5 minutes a day on what I did right/good/kind/positive each day.  I know that the negative can’t be ignored.  If I was rude or made a mistake I need to rectify those errors but I don’t need to sacrifice hope in my effort to solve problems.  The very essence of problem solving is the hopeful belief that an answer exists and I can find it.  The core of suicidal thinking is there is no hope for a positive outcome.  I know how overwhelming those dark thoughts can be.  I also know that one candle, one good thing, one belief that there is hope pushes back that darkness.  I need to look for that bit of hope.  I need to point out to others where the hope exists.  I need to look for and recognize hope.

A single candle brings light to the darkest room.

A single candle brings light to the darkest room.


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