You know that kid.
Maybe she is the quiet one who says very little in an attempt to hide the fact that she doesn’t understand most of what is going on in class.
Maybe he is a bully who picks on those who are much weaker than him in his attempt to hide the fact that he himself is bullied at home.
Maybe she is the promiscuous one who seeks love from anyone who will give it because she doesn’t get it from parents or family.
Maybe he is the angry one who lashes out at teachers and peers when things don’t go his way because at home he always gets his way.
How can I help these students? How can I make a difference in their lives? How can I change the outcome for these kids? Teach them that they matter? That they can overcome whatever negativity is affecting their lives?
I know what you are going to say: “Talk to them. Let them know that you care about them. Ask them about their lives and let them vent when they need to. Build a relationship with them.”
I do those things.
Tonight, I find myself asking, “Is it enough? Am I doing enough?”
What happens when it is not enough for that child to know that I care about them? When the negativity far outweighs the positive influence that I try to infuse into their daily lives?
So there’s a Dropout. A Suicide Attempt. A Teenage Pregnancy. An Arrest. We all just shake our heads and say “Gee, that’s too bad.” We move on to the next group and try again. Tonight I am saddened by this thought and the thought that I could have done more to help.
At the beginning of the school year, I was greatly moved by this story that ran on the Ellen Degeneres Show:
While I do not think that every teacher/principal needs to go to this extent, I do think that more of us need to start thinking differently about our influence on the lives of the students and families at our schools. Instead of sitting back and shaking our heads or pointing our fingers, we need to start coming up with ways to truly reach out, like the principal of Whitney Elementary did.
I’d love to hear any ideas or thoughts on what teachers and schools are already doing or could be doing that are above and beyond the basics of “building a relationship.”