For many teachers and students, this month marked new beginnings- new year, new students, new classrooms, new schools. It is one of my favorite times of year because there is so much hope and energy at the start of the year. We plan, we decorate, we meet the teacher. Then...life happens. And everything changes. In an instant. This week, life happened hard, for a lot of people.
For Houston and surrounding areas, life happened in the form of crazy amounts of water rising up and taking away cherished possessions, homes, and in many cases, life as they know it. Our fellow Texans will be recovering for weeks and years, and the children and teachers will eventually go back to school. When they do, school will be different. It won’t be as big of a deal if homework is not done or if a reading log didn’t get signed. STAAR will take a backseat to reality...hugs will become much more important, and the need to introduce kids to books they can get lost in will take on new significance.
Perspectives always change when life happens. But, here’s the thing….life happens all the time. The kids in your classroom today have life happening every.single.day. It may not be flood waters, but it’s something. Teachers, too….that teacher that seems resistant to trying something new...guess what? She has life happening to her, too. Let’s face it. Life is capable of pulling some serious punches and kicking us hard in the gut when we least expect it. It hurts. There’s not always a silver lining. Sometimes it’s just crud that we have to trudge through. Sometimes a lot of us have to muddle through the same crud together, and other times, we have to wade those infested waters on our own. For many of our students, school is their place to get supplies so that they can muddle through a little longer. For others, school is, unfortunately, the place where they have to do their hardest fighting.
As the year begins, it is easy to get caught up in the need to jump right into content or find out reading levels or get every kind of data point possible on our students so that we can group and chart and intervene. But...I’ve never seen a test, or curriculum program, or even a leveled book jump into alligator infested waters to save a family, so….they can wait.
I challenge my teacher friends to just take some time as this year begins to get to know your students...and their families. Find out about their Life. What gifts has their Life given? What punches has their Life thrown? Let them in on your Life, too. All the other stuff will be there. Life happens hard-for better or worse. Let your classroom be the better.