I realize that as the Lead Learner I need to be in classrooms as often as possible, I need to connect with students, assist teachers, support staff and engage our community in sharing our story. BUT over the last eight weeks I have had my heart tugged on more than ever.
I've met with parents and had very honest conversations about home, school and parenting. Many parents have opened up to me and some have even become emotional. I've also met with a myriad of students...and there is a common theme...so many of our students are living in crisis.
Here is a recent story I feel compelled to share. This past week I learned of an altercation between two second graders. I was very surprised by one of the students involved, but not surprised in the slightest with the other. I made sure to call the students down to my office to discuss what occurred. The student that was assaulted gave me some background information and then told me what happened. The other student simply looked at me and nodded. He then said, "Yup, that is what happened"...then he began to get angry. He started to raise his voice and he said, "I'm mad, IT IS okay for boys to hit girls!" I quickly learned that the entire situation stemmed from a discussion. One boy said girls can hit boys, but boys cannot hit girls. The other boy argued this point. The two went back and forth until one boy assaulted the other. I now had important information, so I sent one boy back to class and focused on the anger.
This eight year boy had a lot of anger and he was still adamant that it is okay for boys to hit girls. I asked him why he thought it was okay? He then shared two stories with me that told of a MUCH BIGGER ISSUE! You can only imagine where the conversation went. For the next 15 minutes I tried to counsel and educate the boy. What I chose to not do, is simply punish. This is a boy, no a family that is living in crisis.
My second story is from earlier in the week. I was approached by a bus driver and the driver was really struggling with a couple of young girls. I went down to see one of the students and then we went for a walk. As we walked, we talked about how her first year at Warner was going. She shared several positives and only a few negatives. As we continued I felt as though she was holding something back. We got to my office and sat down at the table. We talked about her interests, her friendships and her sisters. Then the conversation shifted. She informed me that they were going to be moving soon. I shared my disappointment with her. Then I asked a few questions about home. She explained some things that really disturbed me. She talked about "live in boyfriends" and an overall lack of attention at home. For the next several minutes I sympathized with her, I told her how I would feel if I was in her shoes and as we talked the tears came...she cried a lot that morning, and I think she truly felt better after she let it out. I said as we started to wrap up, "I hope you know I will always listen and try to help." She smiled at me and said, "Can I come see you tomorrow?" I smiled back and said, "Absolutely!"
What breaks me up is that since that day she and her sisters haven't been to school. This is another family that is living in crisis.
At the end of the week I sat down with our Social Worker, Colleen. We talked about these situations and more. Then I said to her, "How many kids do we have that are living in crisis?" For the next three minutes we were able to name more than 25 right off the top of our head. No lists, no notes...right off the top of our heads! I then said to Colleen, "Imagine the number if we had class lists in front of us." We both simply shook our heads.
This gets me to my final thoughts. I'm sure we get upset with students that don't do their work. I'm sure we become frustrated with students that get aggressive and lash out at others. We may even get angry when our students make the same errors over and over. I challenge you to - understand, sympathize and invest in the individual. I will guarantee every single educator can picture a student that they know is living in crisis. Those individuals need our kindness and caring more than anything else. How do you help? How do you give them the support, love and patience that they are clearly lacking?
This Spring Break I will try to catch up, I will focus on my family, but I will also worry about my kids that are living in crisis.
This Week's Big Question: How do you support your students that are living in crisis?
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