Friday, November 27, 2015

Can you stay and play?

"The holiday season is a perfect time
to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways
to make life better for those around us."
- Terri Marshall

Many of us feel joy and gratitude during the holidays.  We are thankful for our health, our friends, and our family.  Our classrooms and schools have an energy that only surfaces once a year.  You can feel it, the anticipation for this special time.

But not all of our students feel this way.

For some, this is a time of uncertainty.  A time filled with dashed hope.  A time that brings anger and disappointment.

Four years ago I went on a home visit and I left thinking of different ways to support the two boys in the home.  I knew they weren't going to have the customary Thanksgiving, and I knew they were facing a pretty bleak Christmas.  Part of me was sad, and the other part of me focused on helping them.  

Supporting families isn't as simple as just buying items and delivering them.  You must be cognisant of their beliefs and their pride.  I never want a family to feel as though I don't think they can provide for their kids.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Reach out to all families in a newsletter or email.  Acknowledge that the holidays can be a stressful time.  Encourage families in need to contact you/school.
  • If you believe a family is in them.  When talking to the family be empathetic and offer support.  Ask questions similar to this:  "Is there anything the school can do to help?"
  • Be creative with support.  Many communities have Shop with a Cop or other ways to support kids.  You may be able to find an outside mentor or a program that is willing to help.
After going on that home visit I chatted with our social workers and I reached out to the parents.  In the end the two boys had gifts under the tree and the parents had a basket full of food to help them provide for their family.

Each year brings a new set of challenges.  This year I was exceptionally grateful.  It was Tuesday night and school was out for Thanksgiving Break.  I had an unexpected visit from a teacher and she shared her concern for one of her families.  After a brief chat I picked up the phone and called the mom.  We had a good talk and she gladly accepted any support we could give.

The next day the teacher and I shopped together and filled the baskets for our families.  Then we went to the house. 

Seeing the smiles of the kids was instant joy.  It reminds us all that sometimes our most challenging kids need us the most.

As we prepared to leave I couldn't help but feel immense pride for our staff.  The girl said, "Can you stay and play?"

The student that you struggle with day in and day out often needs your love and support more than you'll ever know.  It's never to late to offer support to our families in need.

This Week's Big Question:  When you think of partnering with families, does it always have to be families coming to us, or can we go to them?


Monday, November 30th:  Running Club 4pm
Monday, November 30th:  Holiday Musical grades K, 2, 4 at CAC
Monday, November 30th:  Midnight Madness Basketball Kickoff 7-9pm
Tuesday, December 1st:  9am Admin Meeting
Tuesday, December 1st:  Lockdown drill in the PM
Tuesday, December 1st:  Lego Club 4pm
Tuesday, December 1st:  Gym Sports Club 4pm
Wednesday, December 2nd:  K-2 Assembly 8:45am
Thursday, December 3rd:  MEMSPA Conference in Kalamazoo
Thursday, December 3rd:  Minecraft Club 4pm

Articles Worth Reading:

Heart of a Keynote @TonySinanis @gcouros

Unsung Heroes @jon_wennstrom

Good Enough @Jonharper70bd

Schools That Work @MAStewartMA

Making to Learn @E_Sheninger

30 Things We Forget To Say "Thank You" For (Fantastic READ!) @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

Choose to Believe in a positive way! (1 min)

Adele on @jimmyfallon  (3 min)  This is GOLD!

Snow Wedding with GoPro - Dog's perspective (2 min) I love this! 

Ted Talk...Teachers, know your brain. (13 min) 

1 comment:

  1. I love how you not only empathize with families, Ben, but you ACT on your feelings. The families in your school are lucky to have you. You are a champion!