It is Never Too Late
We dream about the day we will retire, but when the dream comes close, we begin to wonder if it will turn out to be a nightmare.
I leaned against my desk and looked out at what would be my last class of students. My career of almost 20 years as a Special Education Instructor was about to come to an end.
It was the first morning of a 12 week contract. I checked my rooster skimming over the notes I had made in the margin from when I reviewed their personal files the night before.
I called out each name slowly, waking them up one at a time, making light conversation with each person trying to imprint in my mind a face to match the name on my clip board.
Amongst the many not so eager faces were two lads who had just gotten out of rehab, one for drugs the other alcohol abuse. I figured they would both fit in just fine since I speculated at least half the remaining students had also been through rehab in previous years.
I had two single moms on my rooster, one aged 23, the other 34 years of age. I identified the older one quickly, but the other could be one of three possibilities.
I knew six of my students (5 guys and one girl) had dropped out of high school, and had been kicking around dodging trouble and basically doing nothing for five or more years.
I had three students who had recently gotten out of jail; Another common background among my students.
I did have a couple of unique students, at least unique for me. One tall lean string bean, who at 39 years of age, had spent more of his life behind bars than he had walking the streets a free man. Being found guilty in the attempted murder of a police officer will do that to you.
I also had a father with four older children. He was 43 years old, worked solid for 18 years at the local saw mill before it went out of business 10 months ago. Now he sat before me as lost in my classroom as he was in life.
The remaining two, well they all had their own problems, but you get the picture.
Special Education Instructor at the college meant I got the ‘Adults Deemed at Risk’, or put into more pragmatic terms, I had the students no one thought would make it through a regular college program.
So before they could commence a regular college program they had to get past me.
It was my job in 12 weeks, to give them the basic communication skills, the study habits, personal management skills, motivation, self-confidence, and determination to turn their life around.
This is what I loved to do, and to hell with the everyday teachers who snubbed my class, I wouldn’t trade one of my students for any of theirs.
“All right” I said, “Now listen up. See the two piles on the corner of my desk? These are the text books, videos, the handouts, copies of your assignments, assorted reference material, and the exams you will be wading through in the next 59 days we have together. Yes, I said 59 days, don’t forget you have one long weekend coming during our three month program.”
Each pile I was drawing their attention to was about 3 feet high and was designed to look imposing. The site of it always extracted a wide selection of grunts, groans, and under the breath complaints.
“This book,” I said, “The one I am now holding in my hand.”
I raised the coiled bound book above my head.
“This is the most important book you will be working with in your entire program. I will be giving you each one of these special books in just a few minutes, but first I want you to take a really good look at what is inside.”
Leaning on the front of my desk I would slowly flip through the 150 page book from front to back. Closely I would watch their eyes as they registered disbelief and confusion.
From the front row, now wide awake, one of my former inmates stammers, “It’s empty.”
Another student from the back shouts, “That book is blank.”
“There’s nothing in it,” shouts a third, all of them seem disappointed.
“That’s right,” I acknowledge with authority. “It is completely blank and yet it is the single most important book I am going to give you. This book ladies and gentlemen is your daily journal and although I am confident that at this moment you think me crazy, you will soon learn that I speak the truth when I say, “This book is going to change your life, and I am here to teach you how.”
Over my 20 years working as a Special Education Instructor on contract I have tried hundreds of different instructional methods to get through to students struggling in self doubt. Yes, they are confused, but basically they are good people who have been swallowed up by bad circumstances and their own poor choices.
Effective Journaling did more to help my students change their lives than any of the many other resources, programs, and tools I have used.
For the writing of this article I was asked:
“What has been the greatest benefit I have received from journaling?
My answer is simple. It has given me a unique way to help people.
It took me 10 years to refine my method and create my Effective Journaling Course.
I decided that upon my retirement I would make the Effective Journaling method available free of charge.
With the help of a handful of other professionals, we have established a not for profit website dedicated to offering professional advice on how to use personal journals to resolve personal issues and to build a better life.
When you reach the end of the road of your working career you only have two choices. You can pull over get out to stretch your legs, then sit on a nice park bench and watch the world go by, or trade in the old for the new, put the pedal to the medal and head off road for a new adventure. I was never much for sitting around. Hope to see you at JOURNALFORLIFE.CA –People Helping People–.
Sincerely yours, Brian N.Share this: