Toxic Atmospheres

Mar 11, 2018

It’s a sad story. Residents of St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana are fighting back after the EPA released findings they have the highest cancer risk in the country – 700 times the national average, according to one study. This would stand to reason given the large plant manufacturing the chemical chloroprene located there. Though one may not be able to see it, the residents say you can feel the toxic atmosphere.
 
This trend of toxicity is one I’m feeling as I visit many schools and communities around our country. Of course, the roots of which are not found in an external chemical, but rather, a variety of other issues we can’t seem to escape, given the never-ending stream of media coverage highlighting concerns.
 
I was fortunate to get about a thirty-six hour break from it all when I visited Canada last weekend. As a Cajun boy from the bayous of south Louisiana, it was great to reconnect with my French ancestry. The people were lovely; the atmosphere was relaxed. The trip, though exceedingly short, was quite cleansing.
 
My detox continued yesterday as I watched two young girls singing my 10 Simple Songs in a recording studio. Their internal, and visibly excited external state exuded all things good and wonderful about life. At one point, one of the girls leaned over to the other in the sound booth giggling, “It’s all so real! It’s like we’re on American Idol or something!” They could not contain their joy and wonder. This, too, healed my soul on a cellular level.
 
Both of these incidents remind me I need to do a better job of creating my own internal state of health and well-being so I am able to keep whatever external toxicity I might encounter at bay. If I am not proactive about looking for the good, the healthy, and the blessings in my life, I leave myself open to being swallowed up by the negative forces around me. This week is my spring break. Here’s hoping my family, friends and yard provide more sources of inspiration as I continue on my journey. I wish for you the same.

Generalizing to Extremes

As I lay awake last night staring at the ceiling, it was clear to me that my original idea for this week’s post would have to wait.  Given the incident that occurred at yesterday’s presidential rally, I believe there is a bigger issue to address. I’ve been...

The Concerning Colorful Spectrum of Language

Though actions may speak louder than words, we best not underestimate how language modeling shapes the behavior of the children we are collectively raising.  I guess it’s a hazard of my profession, but I regularly see and hear the world through the eyes and ears of...

Teacher Dads

Dads, today I celebrate you as teachers.  In fact, I believe it is one of your most important roles.  Fathers are always teaching, continually by example, and most of the time without even knowing they are doing so.  In this regard, I have seen some masterful work.  I...

Predictable Routines Needed

“The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” This quote from Mark Twain seems appropriate given the changes occurring in homes as another school year ends. Parents, we’re lucky. Our kids have had nine months of consistency thanks to the hard work of teachers. We...

One Chapter at a Time

Relieved. Happy. Discouraged.  Exhausted. These were some of the adjectives teachers mentioned when asked how they were feeling about the school year ending.  Although the responses varied, all teachers agreed - they were ready to have some closure with their...

Surrogate Teacher Moms

“Do you have any kids?” I once asked a teacher friend. “Absolutely,” she said. “I have a classroom full of them.” I laughed and walked away, but that thought stuck with me. Let’s face it - some of the best mothers in our lives weren’t our mothers, in the biological...

Get Physical

I’ve done a great deal of yard work over the past few weeks and have been reminded of an important behavior strategy. It’s one I don’t talk about nearly enough, given its effectiveness. Of course, with most people’s busy schedule it’s also hard to come by. The...

Look for the Foundation

Did you know that behaviors have a build-up effect over time?  Most teachers do.  And although there is an ebb and flow pattern to the behaviors of students, we see them all at the tail end of the school year – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Fortunately, we have...

Coming Together

So I’ve been thinking about this post all week.  Though the original inspiration hit me in the middle of the eclipse last Monday, it was driven home again yesterday.  (Being a spiritual man, I believe sometimes God circles back around and gives me reminders – to make...

Positive Collective Memories

As we move into the final months of the school year, now is a great time for educators to celebrate successes.  However, the problem with trying to do so is that we don’t always see the results of our labor right away.  Oftentimes our efforts are laying a foundation...