“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” ~Aristotle
With a month to go before school begins (wow) I have busied myself this week beginning preparations for another school year. I have planned those first few lessons to try and show reluctant learners that math can be magical, I have bought the first of many discount school supplies, and have flooded my Pinterest board with ways to make my classroom more warm and inviting for the 120 students that will spend a year with me. What I have not been able to do is come up with the words to say to make life any easier, the world any less scary, or things make any more sense for those sweet faces this fall.
As many of you know, I teach 7th grade students. If you remember yourself in 7th grade or have survived a 7th grader recently you know that it is a HARD time for all kids. They don’t know who they are yet, they are hormonal, they want to be both adults and children at the same time. It is a year of internal growth, struggle and self-discovery and we love them through it. We tell the parents every year at open house that they will survive their 7th grader just like their own parents did when they went through it.
This fall feels different though. When I think of this fall at school I feel more lost for words than usual.
I don’t have the words to comfort the students that have seen the events on the news and worried that their fathers or family members or even themselves will be racially profiled and may not make it home.
I’m speechless and sad about looking into the faces of students whose families are terrified they will be deported after the Presidential election.
I’m at a loss for how to provide security and safety to the students whose parents protect our country as police officers, serve in our armed forces, and are first responders who worry that their mom or dad may not make it home after a day at work.
I’m worried that I don’t have the expertise or skills to help any of these children navigate their thoughts and feelings and the world they live in. I pray I can help them learn to see the beauty in their differences and teach them that we all bring our own insecurities, fears, and doubts into room 406 every day and that we must learn to build each other up rather than tear each other down.
If you’ve ever heard one of my presentations or spent much time with me you’ve heard me say that I am an entertainer first and educator second. This fall seems different. This fall I think I will need to be so much more than I ever have. I don’t even know what I’m going to have to be first this year… mentor, mediator, care giver, or healer I honestly don’t know the word yet. I do know it will involve a lot of loving on kids that desperately need it after a very hard summer for our nation.
I challenge you to think about how you will support the kids in your classroom this year. It’s about more than teaching content.
“Education breedsconfidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” ~ Confucius