What is compassion and what does it look like in education? Have we lost compassion in schools? Has testing, OTES and other demands made us lose sight of why we became educators?
I remember vividly things I did in Judy Walls’ 2nd grade classroom at Lincoln Elementary School many years ago. I remember her warm hugs, her greeting me at the door, reading to us on a big rug in the corner of her room as she sat and rocked. Looking back SHE was the reason I wanted to be a teacher. My second grade year was when I started reading to my stuffed animals and begged for a chalkboard. Mrs. Walls had compassion for her students.
Recently, I’ve encountered more and more colleagues that seem unhappy and frustrated with their career choice. “It’s the worst year ever”, “The kids are out of control have no respect”, “I’ve been dumped on again”, “I wish there were something else I could do”.
I wanted to shout - THERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO!!!! I refrained, and as a friend, listened sympathetically, offering suggestions.
What can we do as educators? We can show kids we care. I wholeheartedly feel that if students know that we care about them then their attitude and behavior will be different. Some kids don’t have anyone that tells them that they love them, that they believe in them, that they trust them, that they are proud of them.
A simple phone call home telling a student’s parent that they did something great can start a great family conversation. A personal note home makes a student see you value them. I recently had a student I had several years ago see me and pulled out his wallet and showed me a folded up note that I wrote wishing him good luck on his OGT.
I think as educators we “get to busy” or “forget”, but we can’t let this happen. We have to give our students what they are missing in other aspects of their life. We need to show them that they matter - they count. They are, after all, why we are employed!
It was ironic that #ohedchat was about compassion this week because it has been something weighing heavily on my mind. As I participated in the conversation my heart was filled with joy to hear the wonderful things that others are doing. I’m confident that a little goes a little a long way, and modeling is contagious!
Little things that I’m filing away:
- Recently I attended a homecoming dance. The dance started at 8:00. The special education students were permitted to come in early and had the dance floor to themselves prior to it getting too crowded or too loud. Isn’t this wonderful?! Allowing students to experience what everyone else does without the extra stimulus that could have made this a bad experience for them.
- An entire school building has ordered shirts to support a student afflicted with cancer. The school (students and staff) will wear the shirts, and part of the cost of the shirts (over 1/2 ) goes directly to the family for medical expenses
- Lunch groups that brings students of all diversities and needs together. Seeing these students together outside of the structured group (football games, hallways, etc) is AMAZING!
- Personal note cards to students and staff. Vista Print offers cheap postcards and cards that you can custom make to fit your school
- Attending UNschool-related events. Not all students are athletes, and many do things outside of school sponsored events (dance, piano, Special Olympics, theater). Attending these events even briefly make a world of difference in relationship building!
- Remembering to ask how an event went - if a student says “I have a soccer tournament Saturday”, then Monday, ask how it went, not in passing, but with interest.
- Offering families assistance as needed. A fellow teacher knew a student was in need and with the help of his church furnished his family’s apartment.