I went to a school last week where I had the priveleage to spend time with second graders throughout the morning/afternoon. I have been here before for career day and it was since that day I realized that my involvement in the lives of others is needed. This second experience was an encounter I’d never forget..
I walked in the classroom and I could see how ecstatic the class was! They were in the middle of a project that required them to build geographic terrain out of construction paper. If you’re wondering why this experience is so important to be told it’s because these are kids who come from some of the more impoverished areas of the community with many internal battles; some, no father, others..a sick parent, and many more struggle with basic issues such as simple behavior. The root of the issues are deep and it’s why I share with you my experience.
As I made my way around the classroom, everyone wanted my “expertise” help…and for a second I actually think I had my work cut out for me since I haven’t played around with construction paper since I was in middle school. I saw a few of my previous favorites, and even met new students. Their teacher as always is energetic and putting her best foot forward to not only teach but acoomadate the individual student. Now can you imagine having a classroom full of 25 2nd graders that all want tape!?
I noticed one student, who just couldn’t come to terms with the fact that his project was completely up to par but emotionally was unsatisfied. Another student with behavior that seemed to stem from some sort of pain possibly being experienced outside of school. As my eyes look toward the front of the classroom I see a hard working teacher that acknowledges the situation at hand but can physically only do so much to inflict change. We’re talking about a teacher whose job isn’t just to go to work and “teach” but to deal with whatever a student may be trying to cope with that day. The ultimate issue is, one teacher cannot take on all the work. It is at this point where I blame the system! I blame the system for thinking that an hour every other day in the guidance counselors office will fix the emotional and physical well being of the student. The teacher in the classroom sees and bares the hardship of the student and it breaks my heart to know that while some kids know they are going to school to learn, others see it as sanctuary.
I’ve walked passed the principal of this school and I think to myself “what does he feel?” “what has he done?” “what is he doing to improve the situation”. I want people to know that these aren’t kids that we just put through the motions to get them through another Mon-Friday school week but instead kids that need to develop proper learning, communication and interactive skills.
As we walked to lunch I could tell most were excited. Previously I heard one kid usually does not want to go home because his mom doesn’t feed him that much. It’s hearing something simple as that, that makes you wonder, how many others are going hungry while I treat myself to the cajun chicken pasta and molten lava cake two times a week at Chilis..? The feeling overwhelmed me because I know what it’s like to have days where food seemed to be scarce many years ago for my mom and I.
I interacted with 10 kids at the lunch table that day, hand picked by the teacher. I had the chance to just pick their brains and give them a chance to speak their minds. Most were sweet because what kid isn’t happy when he/she is eating?!
As we went back to the classroom I saw one student crying, and I could tell this seemed to be a common occurrence since most other kids appeared to be numb to it. I walked to the back of the classroom to find out that he was simply disappointed with his project. I explained to him that it was going to be okay and that we’ll have additional time to work on it later. It hit me..did I lie to him? or was I really going to have the chance to work on this with him later? This brings me to the point of what most of us adults take part in. We look at a child and think, if we tell them what they want to hear, they’ll forget about it and well..things will continue to move forward and we’ll go on about the day; THAT is the problem!!! Not only in the system but in adults, we FORGET about these kids some days and treat them as if, they’re on their own. These kids need our absoslute full attention. They need our help to guide them so they can thrive and be full of opportunity. We have to create the vision at a young age so there’s no doubt in our mind as leaders and teachers that we’ve done everything we possibly can to ensure they’ve been lead in the right direction of success.
I left that school that day and cried when I got home. I cried because I don’t want those kids to be a statistic. I don’t want those kids to just go through the motions. I want them to know how to make the coolest mountain out of construction paper and where to exactly place the glue and tape. I want them to understand what it’s like to shake another kids hand once they have squashed differences. I want teachers to be set up for success by their own administration so the teacher to student ratio is fair and managable. I want TOP school board executives to VISIT classrooms not in a suit and tie but as a visitor and to interact with them to get a grip on the true issues plaguing local communities. Get a startup program that gets involved with parents in the home to ensure alll the needs of the student are met.
I have a respect for teachers but our kids come first and that must be the forefront of education.