NMC014 School Volunteering ISS
Recorded: February 24, 2016
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Subject: Volunteering in my daughters’ school.
Have you ever felt frustrated by the way thing are going in the world, either the greater world or just in your own little corner of it? I know many people are struggling right now with the upcoming election, the pandemic, systemic racism, and many other things that make us feel vulerable.
When that feeling of overwhelm hits me I know one thing that always helps me move out of that dark place: take positive action. Do some thing, however small, to change your situation for the better. Back when this episode was recorded, in February 2016, I did that. There were budget cuts and school closures and controversy all around. Like so many parents I felt helpless about these changes. So, I did one small thing; I started volunteering in my daughters’ classrooms. This simple, weekly act helped me feel less overwhelmed and more hopeful about the education system overall. I came to realize that if I stopped focusing on the big, behemouth monster I couldn’t control and instead took slow, steady, positive action, I could make a real difference and learn something new in the process.
I hope you are finding ways to turn the tide in your own life. Those shifts, however small, are so important.
Until next week!
Lots of love,
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Get the Full Episode Transcript:download the transcript
Rosa Linda Román: 00:00 Hey everyone, before we get started, a quick note. This is one of the early episodes recorded back in 2015 before we left New Mexico and moved onto the sailing catamaran Dawn Treader and before we became a fulltime traveling family. As you can imagine a lot has happened since this was recorded but I do hope you enjoy hearing this backstory. If you want to stick around until the end I will share how to find out what we are doing now. But first, a step back in time before we went from New Mexicast to New Mexi-Castaways. Enjoy! Theme Music: Sailing away on a boat. Hailing from New Mexico. Enchanting stories as they go. Riding the tides, taking your time. Sailing away on a boat. Rosa Linda Roman: 00:28 Hello and welcome to NewMexicast audio edition. I'm Rosa Linda Roman. And this week I think I'm going to continue with the episode of last week where I was talking about domestic issues because um, I don't really have a lot of tech on my mind right now. Actually. I do have a lot of tech that I'm working on, but I just came from my daughter's school where I volunteer, uh, twice a week, one in each of my daughter's class rooms for an hour where I helped the kids with math, which is pretty funny because I'm no mathematician, although I always did okay in school with math. It never came so easily to me. It wasn't automatic, whereas my husband and many other people can just look at a problem and know the answer inherently. I have to work through the problems. So it's actually a really good exercise for me. Rosa Linda Roman: 01:19 I wanted to get involved in my kid's school. Originally I was going to launch a reporter club, uh, because last year I actually taught as if you heard in the archives, I've, I taught the kids how to make a movie. I brought in a professional crew and we made a half hour film and it was great. We had a gala and it was a really great experience. So this year I was determined I was going to teach the kids how to, um, put on a newscast and create a show for them, uh, at their school. Well, the support wasn't there this year that there was last year. And a big part of that is, uh, two of the schools in our district closed due to lack of funding and they folded into our school, uh, which means everybody's working double time and overtaxed. And, um, because I was in the middle of revamping my business, I really didn't have the energy to push that boulder uphill by myself, uh, with the reporter club. Whereas before with the, the film club, I kinda did it on my own as well, but I had a lot of parental support. Uh, and so that helped me stay excited and keep going even when the going got tough. Well, anyway, so the long story short is I really wanted to get involved in the school, but not in a way that really didn't fit my personality. So I decided to go in a just once a week for an hour to help wherever they could use the help. My daughters are both, I'm the gifted side of the spectrum. Um, and so I was finding, or they were telling me and telling their teachers that they were feeling frustrated because so much of the attention was going to the kids that needed extra help, that they felt that the kids on the, on the more advanced side of the spectrum were not getting any attention. Rosa Linda Roman: 03:08 Um, and in my daughters, uh, one of my daughters, a parent teacher conference, the teachers asked her, you know, is there anything else you want to bring up? And she said, yeah, I'd, I'd really like more time with you. Um, she was really good about breaking off the five top kids during math and they would work on problems together, but it was basically just the kids teaching each other because, um, the teacher's attention needed to be helping, helping the kids that, uh, we're just trying to get the basic concepts down. And also there's the behavioral issues when the kids are bored or don't understand what's going on, um, they start to drop out mentally and then it affects all the kids around them. So, and this turned out to be the case in both my daughter's classes, and I imagine it's the case in many of the classes, but this particular teacher was really great about managing it and trying to engage with all the students, but the advanced kids were basically teaching themselves for our part of the day. Rosa Linda Roman: 04:10 Um, and so my daughter said, I'd really like to have more time with you. And her teacher said she would love that, but she didn't know how to do it. And I said, well, I could come in and help the kids at grade level and you could work with the advanced kids for a little bit. And so that is what we have been doing for several months. And then I ended up, uh, expanding that and going into my other daughter's classroom. Uh, and so it's on my mind. I'm driving into town now heading to rock climbing, which was always a nice mental break for me. But, um, the reason I'm bringing all of this up is I, I'm kind of, I have sadness in my heart about leaving this school. And as every time I leave these classes and while working in the classes, and then as I leave, I'm left with this, you know, just this feeling that there's these kids that they're such great kids and they're, they're flailing and they need help and they, and they're coming from an environment. Rosa Linda Roman: 05:11 Clearly, some of them are coming from abusive homes or homes that don't have, uh, the support system that can help them thrive. And it just kills me. It kills me. I feel like I can go in and make a little connection for the half hour or the hour that I'm there. But knowing that it's only a very small piece of the big, big puzzle, it really breaks my heart. And I'm, I'm wondering how other people deal with that. Uh, in the educational system. I know the people that work at the school, the teachers, the administrators, they care about these kids. But when you go in there in a classroom with, you know, 25 kids or 23 kids or even 17 kids, and you can see kids that really, really, really need to be separate and have separate one on one attention from people that get them and appreciate them and can help them, um, maybe break some of what they're facing at home and have at least something that's positive. Rosa Linda Roman: 06:16 And the example I'm thinking about is this little boy was brought into, um, my older daughter's classroom when I was at the fifth grade today. And this third grade kid was sitting there and I'd never s I had not seen him in this classroom before. So I asked the teacher and she said, oh, he's ISS. And I said, what is that? And they said, it's in school suspension. And I said, is he fifth grade? And she said, no, he's third grade, but they put them in here just to keep him away from his grade and you know, just separate him from his class. So I s I kind of, I said, well what do we do with him while he's sitting here? Cause he was just sitting there and he was, he had found some scissors in the desks and he was cutting things up and I thought, okay, but this is not helping anybody around him and it's not helping him. Rosa Linda Roman: 07:05 So what can we do about that? So I went over and I started talking to him and just finding out his story because as you know, that's what I like to do. I'd like to hear people's stories and it turns out what landed him in in school suspension was a fight he had with his own sister. And she is a fourth grader, he's a third grader. And at first when we started talking, he was all over the place just, well, she this and he that and I this and just really, um, full of lots of, um, you know, talking about a lot of, not violence, but just like, well, if she keeps pushing me, I'll push her back and um, just really talk. And it was amazing how much he revealed about the home life in that little bit of time that he was, was talking with me. Rosa Linda Roman: 07:57 Uh, but I said, okay. I said I, and I tried to guide him and coach him and help him and by suggesting that maybe he could work on controlling himself even when the people around him are behaving badly. Um, and you know, I don't know whether any of that sinks in, but just talking to him as a person. And then I said, well, what about this work? He, he, he asked me actually, what, what are they working on? And I said, well, let me show you. So I start showing him the, the math that they were working on. And it was a particularly difficult day. I, it took me a while to understand the concept, to be able to explain it. I, it was basic math really, but the way that they want the kids to show their work was very, um, confusing. So anyway, I said to this kid, what, what are you, um, you know, w what do you want to do with this? Do you wanna take a look? He said, yeah, what are they doing? So I explained it to him one time and he immediately got it. Now you have to know, when I saw this kid, I thought that maybe he wasn't very bright because of his body language and the way he was speaking to me. Um, it made me think that he, you know, was, was very slow. But once I started showing him how to do the problem and then he worked through the problem and then wanted to take on the next problem, I remember two grade levels above where he is. He got it quickly and, and he lit up when I acknowledged him. And when I, um, was able to show him that I could see his greatness in there. And by the end we ended with a conversation. I said, so you know what? Rosa Linda Roman: 09:37 I have to leave, but I just wanted to check. What are you thinking about now? And I said, he, he said, I'm gonna work on it. I said, what are you going to work on? He said, I'm going to work on thinking about when I'm really mad at somebody thinking about putting myself in my favorite place in my mind. Because I had used the example that when I get frustrated, I picture myself at the beach and if I'm really mad at someone, maybe I'll pick up a shell or a pebble and I'll throw it into the ocean in my mind to get some of that frustration out. And here's this kid in this little bit of time, I talked to him telling me he's going to try this technique. Now, will it help him? I have no idea. I'm not a counselor, I'm not a teacher. Rosa Linda Roman: 10:17 But it just, it just left me a sad because in the conversation he talked about some of the clear abuse that he faces at home and how this cycle of, of aggression and anger and frustration is just, you know, he's just continuing what he sees. Um, and he, he used some words about some language about his sisters that he could not have known those words, you know, he said, Oh my dad always coddles my sister. Well, that's not a kid, a word that a third grader knows inherently. Um, so my point is it's hard to walk away from that knowing he's going to go home and be in major trouble tonight because of getting in school suspension. But really, I don't think anyone's hearing this kid. And I see this time and again, one of the, one of the kids in my daughter's classroom, he's a, he, he, a few years ago, he was just one of the kids in her classroom and then his mother was murdered, murdered. Rosa Linda Roman: 11:24 There was a awful story. I don't know all the details, but there was, it involved a drug deal and all kinds of stuff. And so this little kid experienced this horrible trauma. His father works really hard to be there for him and support him and his siblings. But you can only imagine what that family has gone through. Right? Well now I'm watching him two years later and he, well, we're working on the math and we're working on these different things. He's deliberately acting out, but he's a really smart kid too. He always knows the answers. He, he can do the work, but he chooses not to. And he's starting to do things to like, like he, um, was stabbing a vat of peanut butter with scissors while the teacher was trying to teach. Now you have to remember before you judge the teachers, they have 17 to 25 kids by themselves. Rosa Linda Roman: 12:23 So it's hard to pay to teach a lesson and pay attention to the kids that are trying to be disruptive because they need attention. So this is what's on my brain right now. I don't know why I'm sharing it here on NewMexicast except to say that I, I know there are so many people working to try to help and I just really appreciate the people that are doing what they can. I'm not perfect. I yelled at my five-year-old this morning, so, you know, I'm not throwing stones by any stretch. Um, but I'm, I'm trying to see the areas where we can make a difference. And for me, that's one of the benefits of doing the show and the work that I do is that I get to choose how I spend my days and um, incorporate, it's really hard. Like every time that I know, it's the day I'm going to the classroom, I have moments where I'm like, ah, maybe I won't go today. Rosa Linda Roman: 13:16 Maybe I will just stay home and work on NewMexicast and stuff. That is easy for me. Um, but then of course I always go, cause I know when I walk in, the kids light up. I know I'm helping them. I know it means a lot to my own kids to see me involved in their lives because right now they're third grade and fifth grade and they want me there. So how am I not going to do that? But in the long run, I, you know, I benefit the most from it. It helps to shape who I am. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be, you know, working in an elementary school, uh, trying to help kids with math and trying to connect with, you know, kids that have had serious problems in their lives. But, uh, anyway, my hat goes off to all of you who work with kids in a loving, supportive way and not just kids. Rosa Linda Roman: 14:08 I mean, there's so many grownups who are damaged and who need help and, and if we can catch them when they're kids, that's so awesome. But, um, you know, it's, it's a, it's a team effort I guess. And, um, a lot of times I feel like even the parents who maybe if you, in a judgy way, if we say they're kind of failing even they are trying like, you know, I know that we're not perfect and we do our best and we do the best with what we have at any given time. So, um, I guess I just want to say go out and see what you can do to connect with someone you know. I've been working on as if you go to a NewMexicast TV or NewMexicast.com you'll see I've been doing these um, these sessions these twice weekly um, we call it My Habit Upgrade moment and it's a partnership between myself and a Natalie Goldfein who is the founder of My Habit Upgrade and I interview her twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 o'clock mountain time. Rosa Linda Roman: 15:13 So you can actually interact with us live if you want to. But it's all about small incremental changes that you can make to improve your world, the world around you, yourself, just there, there are these small little things you can do. And I'm wondering if that's why this is on my mind so much because I'm starting to notice the little places and it's little, I mean I don't think the kids get to go home and be like, oh, it's all great now, but I just feel like that little tiny change, that shift is making a massive, massive difference, at least to me. And maybe it will plant the seed for some of these kids for the future. Um, anyway, as far as the work, I've been working on a new platform shifting to NewMexicast, let me wrap it up before I go in to go rock climbing. Rosa Linda Roman: 16:06 Um, I've been working on a new platform called Anchor, which is kind of a really fun, it's like a playground basically for audio. Uh, you post a quick two minute or less audio clip and then people um, respond with their own audio clips. So they respond with, with uh, another voice message. Basically. It's like a, a voicemail exchange almost, but it's been a lot of fun. So if you want to check that out, it's, I think it's only on Iphone or I devices, Mac, Mac based devices, but, um, it's called anchor and it's a lot of fun and you can find me as NewMexicast there. Uh, anyway, thanks so much for listening. I know today's a bit of a ramble, but that's what's on my mind. And, um, I guess when you have a platform that you get to say what you want and especially cause everybody basically has a platform today, thanks to live streaming and apps like Anchor and the, the readily available technology that can make you a broadcaster. So I hope you go out and make some content of your own and I'd love to hear some comments. So connect with me through any of the social media channels. Take care and I'll talk to you in the next episode. Bye. Theme Music: 17:25 Sailing away on a boat. Hailing from New Mexico. Enchanting stories as they go. Riding the tides, taking your time. Sailing away on a boat.