Who knows how few people will stumble upon this first entry, but I wish for it to be meaningful in some way, great or small. As a teacher, we come across children from every avenue imaginable. Some come to us worried about which pair of Nikes to wear that day, some worry if the leader of their friend group will talk with them at lunch. Others, meanwhile, worry about things like hunger and abuse and neglect at home.
Today is a Friday going into a three-day weekend. All students, but it seems especially sixth graders, experience difficulty focusing or sitting still on days like today. These days can be a struggle and very tiring. We may have swirling negative thoughts about a few individual students or the student body as a whole.
I realized something today, and with it came a punch-in-the-gut feeling that I have it all wrong - as do many people in school, unfortunately. See, many students get to leave school and go home to happy families that care about each other; but there’s another portion of our students that don’t. It tore me apart when I realized perhaps some of our students aren’t squirrelly on Fridays because they can’t wait to hangout with friends, or shop or visit their cabin. What if some young people in our classrooms misbehave because it has become their way of coping with what lie ahead? Maybe home for them isn’t so happy or caring. Maybe they are scared.
This is most likely the case for only a few students, but just a few is too man. Therefore, my mindset shifted today. No matter if a student is in personalized learning or general, gifted or behind, rich or poor, silly or quiet, we need to love them all. We must err on the side of building real relationships, not stressing over content and agendas. I don’t know exactly where students go when they say goodbye each afternoon, but if going out of my way to make sure they do it smiling, I’m going to play it safe and try.
Maybe one more smile is what they need to prepare for what comes next.