Life is good. Don’t waste these days of beauty and wonder.
These were the thoughts I had when I was in Chicago for a two day MIE Training. After watching the sun rise over the river on my walk to the Microsoft office my mind was in a good place to start the day. I thought that I needed to share this positive mindset with everyone in a blog post. As I continued to walk I kept thinking about what I would say to have an impact. And then…..
While I was thinking about this topic, reality hit me.
This feeling is not always the case for every student that walks through our doors. Unfortunately, life is not good for everyone and rarely do they get to see days of beauty and wonder.
As educators it is easy to lose sight of these moments because of the universal constraints and stresses that almost every single teacher across the nation can relate to:
- We often get caught up in the little minor details of work.
- We need new textbooks or materials
- We stress about what standards to teach, how to teach them, which ones are more important than others
- Are we getting enough prep time?
- Why is every kid not turning in their rote memorization homework
- We need more time
- We need more money
- We need more technology
- We need more technology that works
- Where is the wifi?
The list goes on and on……
There have been so many things happening this school year that I just had to stop and pause.
Not just pause, but I had to STOP
When I stopped I had to recheck my ego and my stresses. When I did this I realized many things. The things I get worked up about such as the purpose of education and why we does the education system continue this endless cycle of reform instead of transform is really not as important as I would like to believe. It does not mean that I give up on these ideas because I believe they need to be addressed.
But I have to pause sometimes.
I have to STOP
And I realize that none of this matters. It really doesn’t. Not without something being addressed first.
The reason these things don’t matter is that they are all the “next” layers to a foundation layer that is even more important. The first fundamental layer to education and life and teaching is often not addressed because it is hard. It has not been addressed because it is often ignored or denied, time is not devoted to the topic, and resources continue to be taken away.
This foundational layer is ensuring that each and every child feels cared for and nurtured in their educational setting.
My wife says it best as she posted this the other day
There have been quite a few instances this last 2 weeks that have served as a reminder to me that the kids sitting in our classrooms have lives away from school. These lives have problems just like we have as adults. So, no matter how great of a lesson you have planned with that perfect select and sequence technique or the perfect launch…what really matters is that our students know that we care about them. Our curriculum is important but not as near as important as how we make the kids feel in our classrooms!
What are we doing to ensure that our students……ALL of our students(even the ones that drive us batshit crazy) know that we care about them? Maybe even more importantly, do we even care for all of them? This is the first mental check that we need to cover. What does our classroom culture look and feel like? Do we say hi to each student? Do we reach out in simple ways? I am not asking or suggesting we meet 1:1 with every single kid, but I do believe we can connect with each student in some capacity each and every day.
We can be the beauty and wonder in the lives of our kids for 8 hours each day when the rest of their 16 hours contains none of it or very little.
Students have so much baggage today. Broken families, socioeconomic hardships, lack of mentors and models in their life, missing strong male AND female leaders, stress to perform at high levels, stress from nobody caring, being hungry, being lonely whether parents are not around because they left OR because they work all the time, trying to fit in with the school climate, the emotions and adolescent nature of growing up in a society where we expect more adult like things from our youth at younger ages, and more.
I am not just talking about the extreme cases of students that we have. I am talking about each and every child. Children that are the quiet ones that sit and are obedient. The natural leaders that we all depend on that deal with the stress of this label to adhere to the adult expectations and then fitting in with their peers. Each child. It does not take much for a student to have a really bad day. We forget that little things like answering a question wrong in class can have a devastating effect on a child.
As much as it is easy to get caught up in grades, midterms, mindless education paperwork, and whatever else puts our undies in a bunch, we cannot forget to stop and pause. Pause and think about if we are doing the most fundamental thing possible which is making sure each kid knows someone cares for them.
One of our most important aspects to our jobs as educators is to make sure all of our students feel like worthy human beings.
Are you doing this?