Stories from My Past: Can you work with Justin?
“Can you work with Justin?” my six grade teacher asked. “He sometimes needs some help to do his work.”
“I’d be happy to” I replied.
I became Justins friend and assisted him as necessary. He would sometimes stutter but I used to suffer from the same problem. In time I got proficient at anticipating words he was going to say. It benefited me to be his friend as much as he benefited.
Years later in junior high and high school I had a chance to work with special education students again. It was lots of fun being able to be around people who had such good attitudes and personalities.
In high school the same situation happened again. A person needed some help in one of my classes and I spoke to the teacher about it. She wasn’t able to give the student the attention she needed so I offered to work with that person and help them. All year I worked with the student and reported to the special education teacher what I was doing.
It felt really good when the special education teacher thanked me for my work with her and said that she made great progress with me. I am certainly not formally schooled in techniques and theory, but I cared and I found a way to encourage a positive self-regard and kindness.
At the end of the day what matters is not the specific intellectual things. Those matter if you are in certain professions. What I see that most people are in need of is kindness and patience with each other. It is never easy when people make frustrating mistakes, but we all learn at our own pace.
In my career being patient and kind has made the biggest difference. It matters more that you can treat people with respect than you know something specific. You can always look up details, but rarely do people learn how to be respectful and kind.
I don’t know what my friends who I helped learned, but I learned patience and kindness lasts forever.
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