The statement, “There’s a story in every seat,” is something I say often in my University Classes at UNC-Greensboro. My students have heard me say it so much, they roll their eyes as soon as they hear me start the phrase. However, I say it often, because I want it to sink in. As soon to be teachers, it is critical that they understand that each child sitting in one of the seats in front of them comes with their very own story. Each story has a beginning, middle and the future of that student is still to be told, but each one knows more about their family stability, the love or neglect they come home to, the food they have abundantly, or the food they wish for daily. While some of these stories are easy to see physically on our students, many of their stories stay untold, until the student becomes trusting of their teacher. If you’re a teacher, you know what I mean. Trust does not come easily for children these days and rightly so. Children are told to be aware of strangers, don’t go anywhere with a stranger, don’t talk to strangers, and the boundaries that parents place on their children are drawn from the time they are born. This is done out of love and is smart for every parent to do for safety!
Teachers know that students do not learn from people they do not trust. Especially, if they are a student who has come from a family with trauma, abuse, neglect, poverty, etc.
Therefore, I tell my students, it is imperative you put the work in with your students to not only teach them academics, but to learn about them as people. Learn their hobbies, what they like, what they dislike, what they do on the weekends, and converse with them daily about the things that matter to the students.
The same is true of adults. There is a story in every adult seat. Next time you are in a public place, look around. Each person has a story. Their story may include an illness, a divorce, a child who has passed away, the loss of a job, or like me, an autoimmune disease that makes me feel pretty tired a great deal of time.
Looking around at those people, imagine what their story might be. Or, if you have the time, talk to them and find out what their story really is. What you’ll find out is two things:
- You have something in common with almost everyone you meet. This includes people of different ages, races, sex, religions, and more.
- You will learn to be more compassionate of others. When you look at someone without talking to them, it is easy to let your bias take a step forward and write the story for you and perhaps create something negative. However, if you speak to the person, you are more likely to see your commonalities, and realize that the person you are speaking to is more like you than you realized.
Remember, every time you look at an empty chair, someone will sit there with a story. Let’s try to love each one!
Blessings Sweet Friends!