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  • Writer's pictureJeff

"Hey mister, How About a Tip!"

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

“Hey Mister, How About a Tip!” Reflections of New Orleans

My wife and I flew into New Orleans on a late Sunday afternoon for a National Education Conference in New Orleans and settled into our hotel room by early evening. Not wanting to waste a minute, we rushed out to wander the streets in search of some great food and entertainment.

Having heard numerous stories and given endless advice on what to avoid and what not to miss, ranging from Bourbon Street and Voodoo parlors to Canal Street and art galleries, we had agreed to avoid nothing and take it all in for enrichment and education.

We had only walked a block or so when we ran into Bourbon Street. As we turned the corner, we sheepishly looked at each other, saw the gaiety gleam in each other’s eyes, and briskly made our way down the brightly, neon- lit street.

Our first encounter was in front of the Hustler Boutique where, what seemed to be a brother and sister, playing five-gallon buckets with drumsticks. In my mind I was questioning the scene. Fearing friends would not believe the story I would tell, I fumbled with my phone for a picture. As I positioned myself for the shot that would take it all in, the young boy blurted out, “Hey Mister, how about a tip.” And no, it wasn’t a question. I took my picture, tossed a couple bucks into their soy sauce bucket and had sober, reflective thoughts the rest of the evening; and as you can witness they continue.

As we meandered up and down the streets over the next few days, taking in the wonderful energy of historic New Orleans, I often reflected on the scene and the young boy’s request. One of the first ‘tips’ I wanted to give was, “It’s Sunday night, you should be home getting to bed so you can get a good night’s sleep for school in the morning.” As I pondered more, my tip turned to a question, “What circumstances had brought these children to being street performers, in front of an adult store, on a late Sunday night?

The next morning, I was contemplating my question from the night before and heard these three comments during the first session: One, put yourself in their story. Two, avoid ‘Cultural Blindness,’ thinking we know what our students need, not considering where their least restrictive environment may be. And finally, Self-Directed Learning: the student takes responsibility, knowing their own needs and setting goals; with guidance.

I wanted to run back onto Bourbon Street and track down those kids and give them this apology, comment and tip: “I’m sorry for having Cultural Blindness. I hope you earned enough, early enough so you could make it to school in the each and every school day. Work as hard at school as you do playing those five-gallon buckets and you will have endless possibilities in your future for your life’s work.”

In another session, I was reminded of the simple activity to check for right and left brain dominance by clasping your hands together with your fingers intertwined. This is something else I wanted to try with my surrogate students and share the idea that having a working knowledge of brain dominance can assist a person’s process and progress to strengthen weaknesses. I also wanted to share two pictures, one of the strengths of each side of the brain and the other of Gardner’s work, Eight Intelligences.

From my over 25 plus years of teaching, I had these thoughts as well: Yes, you can tap-in to the power of your personal, individual brains to direct your actions. And just like your drum playing, you can create moments in your lives that can provide powerful progress in your community that can sustain your personal, individual emotional and financial futures.

After a refresher session on the body’s responses to fear and anxiety, I longed to interact with the young street performers on how we can learn and understand the body’s modes of Fight, Flight or Freeze. We can work on and master our actions in the face of difficult situations to gain Freedom from feelings of anger, frustration and inability. We can further gain “Freedom” to process, navigate and engage with empowering thinking, acting and feeling. This can lead to the confidence needed to engage and build productive relationships and environments.

We all have the power within to address the trauma and emotional wounds our communities can project upon our lives. Trauma, such as community or domestic violence of sexual or physical abuse and even a disaster or accident can cause changes in our behavior. These behaviors can lead to traumatic thoughts and feelings that impact our psychological development. As we are willing to process and get different perspectives on situations, we can address, and even heal these emotional wounds and live healthy, productive lives.

In the teaching profession, there are many different approaches: problem, project, and principle based learning, direct instruction and a myriad of others. All can be utilized once the individual has explored and will TAP IN to their personal purpose to direct their individual voice. This individual voice of a person’s purpose advocates and gives evidence of their own, individual progress and fulfilment. The student of life gains a clear understanding and path to where they want to be. The use of The Sphere Theory, a Scientific Method for gathering information, TAP IN (The Adaptive Process Intuition Navigated) to direct actions, and repeating The Adaptive Process to Think-Act-Feel the work being experimented with and accomplished, energizes the confidence to navigate through unthought barriers and retain the ability to achieve their individual goals.

While attending this conference to refresh and renew my approach to life and profession, the thought occurred of the “mindfulness” movement evident throughout our society and across all professions and the focus on the power of the individual. With that focus, we can TAP IN to an understanding that as we navigate our thoughts of the contention and confusion of the world coming into our brain, we can continually seek truth to discover and change our actions. These better thoughts and action create and produce more purpose in our individual lives. As we create harmony within our purpose of being, harmony extends into our home, which will expand into our communities, creating a peaceful, harmonious world.

- Jeff

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