As teachers, we are responsible for managing a lot in classrooms. We are in charge of student learning, enrichment, remediation, classroom friendships, broken laptops, lunch duty, recess supervision, band-aid distribution, writing newsletters, calling parents, writing passes, delivering library books, posting grades, attending meetings, grading papers, planning lessons, and still finding time to eat lunch ourselves. Sometimes, it’s easy to assume that the tiny humans that sit in our classrooms are just part of the wheel, part of the everyday.
On the contrary, our kids are just like us, and they need more than we sometimes give them. Some of them are hurting. Some of them carry heavy hearts. Some of them miss a loved one. In fact, some of them experience worse than pain than we ever have.
When I was in 6th grade, I pulled up to my grandmother’s house after church and found that she had not made it through the night. To me, having my grandma one day and then not the next made me confused and sad for quite awhile. Becoming a teacher has taught me that the majority of kids have gone through something similar to this, but that some go through even worse.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget that these tiny humans really need us.
Last year, there was a student that I would say hello to everyday, and everyday, without a doubt, she would walk past me with her head down and never say hello. In class, she was withdrawn. She would draw, doodle, and color, but never complete the work she was supposed to. Initially, I showed this student kindness, but finally, I became annoyed. I would offer help, I would email home, I would give her reminders, but I could never get through to her. She would constantly be drawing, and eventually, instead of always showing her love, it became a constant battle of me versus her, where I would try my best to make sure she wouldn’t have those drawing materials out during my class.
A couple of months into school, I found out that this student was going through a whole lot. So, while the student was receiving the help she needed, I went to Target and bought her a new sketch pad, new coloring supplies, some fun stickers and some gel pens, and I sent them to her. Along with it, I wrote her an encouraging note. When she returned back to school, she not only looked healthy for the first time, but our relationship had changed. The $10 I spent on this student made her realize that she was important and by embracing something that I had looked down upon in my ignorance, she felt that I valued not only her talents, but her as a person.
Keep your eye out on your kids. It’s easy to get caught up in their scores and their performance and forget what an awesome impact you could have in their lives. They might not hear every word you say everyday. And trust me, I’ve given some thrilling lessons on semicolons. While our lessons matter and their learning is so crucial, it’s arguably more important to just be there for them. Sometimes, without knowing it, they will also be there for you. 🙂