A teacher’s impassioned plea has changed my view of the upcoming first day of school. I always knew children came to school with emotional burdens but her description made it all too real and more than just a little troubling.
Our teachers are spending hours with children who often walk with emotional limps, maybe even more hours than the children’s parents. Yet their emotional burdens are often hidden from the teachers.
The teacher, Anna, wrote me after I posted information about dealing with student grief. I had written that my son and daughter-in-law both taught school. One teaches 3rd grade in Boulder, Colorado and the other teaches Spanish in Gresham, Oregon.
I wrote that while their classrooms and students are miles apart in more than distance, they are bound together by the realities that their students come from very real families with real life experiences.
I look at this photo of my sons and their cousins and I sigh, knowing that a few days later their grandpa would die.
The first day of that new school year my sons carried new backpacks and wore their new clothes. My sons also wore the new mantle of grief along with their Reeboks.
One teacher in particular impressed me with how she dealt with my first grader’s reaction to school and to the loss of his Grandpa. She let him sleep with no shame or teasing. He didn’t sleep long, just dozed off now and then for a few minutes.
When he awoke she quietly caught him up on what the class was doing. He felt safe.
“What a lovely story, Shaun,” Anna wrote me back. “What an understanding teacher! And wow, you’ve touched a nerve in me here!”
“Don’t assume teachers know anything! Even if you’ve talked with a school counselor, often times they do not effectively communicate with the teachers.”
“As a teacher and a human being I strive always to be kind,” she went one. “I often have been surprised to find out at the END of the semester or year, once students feel safe with me, all kinds of things that I wish I had known at the START.”
“I learn a parent committed suicide the previous summer, a girl was raped and is in foster care, an aunt was shot by her boyfriend and a student is transgender. And that was just PART of this last year!”
There are resources too.
One site that has hundreds of articles and videos on child resiliency, teaching methods and lifelong learning is Edutopia. It was funded through the George Lucas Foundation.
You can reach this informative website by clicking here
An example of one of the articles you will find there can be found by clicking on this link:
Support Grieving Students, an Edutopia Article