In August of this year, the staff I am a part of had three days of professional development and planning for the upcoming school year. During this time together, we participated in an activity called My One Word. Each individual picked one word that would help guide his or her personal and professional life for the 2019-2020 school year. The word I chose for this year is “Intentional.” Great word and a great idea, right?
Well, I am now only two months into being intentional about all I do and I already want to change my word.
It’s not that I dislike “intentional” or that I am struggling to be intentional. It is mostly that a different word has grabbed my attention and has not let go. I think intentional and the new word are compatible but, if I only get to choose one word to help guide me through this school year, I am going to go with the new word. The new word for me is “Generous.”
According to Merriam-Webster online, there are three phrases that contribute to the definition of the word generous. Those phrases are…
- Liberal in giving
- Marked by abundance or ample proportions
- Characterized by a noble or kindly spirit
Many times, the word “generous” is associated with money. However, I believe each of these phrases can help guide us as we work with students in afterschool programs all over the country, and it has nothing to do with money. Let’s take a closer look at each phrase and how it applies to working with students in out-of-school time.
Liberal in Giving
This phrase brings to mind the time and attention we give the students we work with. With so many demands on our time and attention in daily programming, it can be easy to be short with what we give to our students. When we listen to students and are truly engaged in the conversation or activity, we communicate the message that the students are important to us, that they matter. What if we built time into our personal schedule to sit with at least one group of students each day, just for a couple of minutes, to give them the time and attention they need? Be generous with your time and with your attention.
Marked by Abundance or Ample Proportions
I believe part of what we do in afterschool programs is expose students to opportunities that are not available to them at home or in the regular school day classroom. By being generous with our program offerings, we give students a glimpse of the world around them and expand their knowledge of what is available to them. It may be a little more work for us as we increase our offerings, but the generosity we demonstrate in this area has the potential to set a direction for someone’s life. Be generous with the activities and opportunities you offer students in your program.
Characterized by a Noble of Kindly Spirit
In the song “Mural,” by Lupe Fiasco, there is a line that says “…treat every single one of your words like reinforcements.” Our words function as both positive and negative reinforcements in others (and ourselves!); the words we use come from a place inside us, which can either be benevolent or tightfisted. Our words and the spirit from which they originate can have significant impacts on our students. Be generous and kind with your words and in your spirit.
Generosity is a choice. We may not feel we have much to give, but we can give of what we do have. When it comes to your students and your programs, choose to be generous in all you do.
Breakfast today was a banana, a cinnamon crunch bagel, and chocolate milk.