- Staying Within Law: Special Education Teachers and IDEA - September 1, 2020
- Teaching With Minecraft EDU - April 3, 2019
- Self-Care Is Priority One for This Teacher - February 13, 2019
- Preparing Students For Teacher Absences - February 12, 2019
- Respect in the Classroom: Earned, Not Expected - February 11, 2019
- Dissing the Family Crazies: A Christmas Story - January 6, 2019
- Band-Aiding The Mental Health of Our Children - November 23, 2018
- We Must Love Them - November 5, 2018
- Take One For the Team: The Need for Self-Care - August 19, 2018
- The New Teacher Smell - August 19, 2018
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Well it happened last week. I sat down at my table at the end of the day after all the kids were gone, and sobbed. Not just the ‘I-think-I-need-a tissue’ cry, but the ‘open-a new-box-of-kleenex-I’m-gonna-be-here-awhile’ sob.
I don’t do this very often, and granted, November is an emotional month for me as it is, but I can count eight of my fourteen kids whose families are going through major ‘stuff’; divorces, very sick family members, deployment, just to name a few. And it breaks my heart. Literally makes me hurt inside. Some of the kids know what is going on. Others don’t yet. And I’m not sure which is the better side to be on. Sigh.
We teachers see the ins and outs of our kids on a daily basis. We have seen the kids who come to school with bruises from being hit by a parent. We have seen the kids who come to school with the bags under their eyes, due to no sleep because mom and dad were fighting last night. We have seen the kids come to school breaking down halfway through the day because a sibling was hauled off to jail the night before. Although not all of these situations are happening in my classroom right now, I have at one time or another in my eighteen years of teaching witnessed them all.
And although I am not a ‘fixer’ by nature, I am a ‘protector,’ and I want to be able to keep bad things from happening to my kids. I want everything in their lives to be about crayons and painting and play-doh and singing and creating and learning… But I know reality is a cruel creature and I can’t protect them from everything that the world is throwing at them.
So how do we keep the emotional side of teaching from interfering in our being effective educators?
I am a very sentimental and emotional person. And I realize that I can’t be in the middle of class, trying to teach a lesson, thinking about little Johnny whose mother just found out she has stage three breast cancer and isn’t expected to live through Christmas (yes, an actual situation I faced about fifteen years ago), and just break down in front of seven- and eight-year-old kids. Not very good professionalism, but more importantly, not very appropriate for my class.
I’ve always been very upfront with my kids when something is bothering me, but being upfront is very different than breaking down and pulling little ones into adult situations. There are mornings when I know a child is experiencing something that I may pull an appropriate book out at carpet time and read it, knowing it may give the child the language needed to come up to me later and just talk about what is going on in his or her little life. Other times, I may just sit and visit with a group of kids while playing a game, waiting for the timing to be just right to discuss some of the ‘stuff’ that they may be seeing or hearing at home. Take time to really visit with your students. Find the time to let them talk.
Remember the sponge analogy? “Kids are like sponges!” Well, it goes both ways. Kids do absorb a great deal of information at a rapid pace for many years. And not all the time is it ‘good’ information. But once they become super-saturated, ‘stuff’ starts dripping back out. If given the chance, your classroom will do all the talking necessary.
Educating children isn’t all about math and reading and writing and problem solving. Educating children is also about allowing them to talk about what is important in THEIR lives. Educating children is showing them that they have a voice too. Educating children is about teaching them healthy ways of dealing with stress and problems. No amount of standardized testing can accomplish those life skills.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]