1. pam42

    Hi George. You are right we learn so much from our furry friends. I believe we are so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to share our lives with our wonderful dogs. The love we give them is returned unconditionally. I know that no matter what sort of day I have had Ellie will be at the back door waiting for me with her wagging tail and this brings a smile to my face and makes my day. Enjoy the rest of your trip to Australia but, even more importantly, enjoy the lovely welcome you will receive from Shaq and Odom when you return home.

  2. Rhoni McFarlane

    I have or have had several Sams/Shaqs as students. One in particular came to me having moved from school to school not coping, being suspended and sent home for "inappropriate behaviour". On his 2nd day of school with me he had a 'melt down' and I spoke to him quietly and calmly. He grumbled "I guess you will send me home now, because I have been bad" quite angry with himself. I replied calmly "No, I don't send anyone home unless they are sick, we are just going to have to work out how we can manage better".
    Not since that day has he ever worried that we couldn't work through a problem!

  3. Thanks for the stories, George. I think that it would really powerful to collect as many of the "Sam" stories we can. Gathered together, they would serve as both a reminder of what it is that we are called to do and as a touchstone as we move around the education world talking about change.

    I have a couple to contribute!

  4. This post really hits home for me for many reasons. I am a complete and utter dog lover and Shaq reminds me a lot of my Sunny. He is very stand-offish and hates strangers and wayward plastic bags. He'll hide in places he can't fit because he is scared of everything. He got out once and I had to chase him 5 blocks in bare feet to have him bite me because he thought I was a stranger. Most owners would have had him taken away after that, but like you said, you have to keep giving love.

    We have to be there for our students. We have to show them what compassion can look like. They have to know we will not give up on them no matter what happens. My first year teaching, our principal encouraged us to find a student and 'adopt' them throughout their years in school. He wanted us to focus on a student that didn't have it all together and didn't have the perfect home life. This is what we should all be doing. We need to invest in our students' lives like you did with Sam. 🙂

    Thank you for a beautiful post, George! 🙂

  5. Karen Kurczak

    Your post me me cry and laugh at the same time. I have now had 6 Shaqs in my life from rescue homes and despite their backgrounds, anxieties, barks and bites; building relationships through trust, consistency and unconditional love have given back to me tenfold. I have taught many kids with barks and bites too and their basic needs were no different. If we truly want to build meaningful and lasting relationships with our students don't let them down- be there even when they keep biting and barking because you may be their last place of 'rescue'. Cheers. Karen @kazk62

  6. Brianne Koletsos

    Thanks for the timely post, George! This year I have an entire class of Sams and Shaqs. It is easy to get lost in the challenging behaviors and take things personally. Your words here are helping redirect my focus back on the most important part of my job, connecting and building relationships with students who are usually given up on before they are even given a chance. “We often overlook the fact some of the kids we struggle with as teachers and show up every single day, are the kids that need us the most.” -> This may very well be the spark I've needed to remember why I became a teacher and why my students deserve my very best. Thank you.

  7. George, I am so sorry to hear about your ill pup. I have a medium-sized mutt that I have had since she was a brand-new puppy – she's now just over a year and a half old. Her name is Georgia.

    I'm looking for something profound to say, but I don't have anything. I'm not currently teaching or tutoring, but I when I was, I don't think I fully understood the love and patience you can show another living thing until now.

    In the 4-8 months old range, I must have thought about giving Georgia away a dozen times and came close to making phone calls/ sending messages on facebook a couple of times. I kept coming back to the fact that I had chosen to bring this little creature into my home and she deserves the effort, patience and love that I had planned to give her.

    The work has paid off in spades – my dog is amazing, even though she is still certifiably insane. She puts as much effort into our relationship as I do, and I can't imagine my life without her. I can only hope that this period of growth will translate to my efforts in the classroom and in having more patience for others, when/ if I return to teaching.

    I hope your pup is comfortable. I truly enjoy interacting w/ you on the interwebs – you seem genuine. Thank you! – Sarah @sbethm

  8. Funny! My first follow was Shaq as well. Struggled with which one was the REAL Shaq. Talking Social Media and specifically Twitter and Google Alerts to my Superintendents this Friday as a way to communicate with community and your article came up in my resource search! Using it! Thanks!

  9. […] they are positive or negative.  People are often shaped by their environments and if we simply can give them the love that all people need, and try to always focus on looking at them in the positive, they will do […]

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