Let Them In
“How are you?”
The tears hit my cheeks, coursing down my face as I walked to my car after work.
Quickly I ducked inside, dried my face, and tried to focus on driving.
It had been a rough day, and even though I knew my dad wouldn’t completely understand, he was a good listener. So I unleashed my thoughts to my dad, who was quietly listening hundreds of miles away.
The challenges had snuck up on me, and a busy work day had masked the inner turmoil I was facing. Getting through work when outside forces are surrounding you (whatever they may be) can be daunting as adults, but what about our students?
What might be the outside forces pressing down on our students’ lives that make it seem insurmountable to face one more quiz, test, homework assignment, or “meaningless group activity” when there are more important worries crowding their thoughts?
Seth Godin writes in his book Linchpin that schools should only teach two things:
- Solve interesting problems
If this was the case, then perhaps the outer circumstances that often affect our students would be able to be addressed in a productive, relevant, and educational manner. I personally struggle with how much to let the “real world” inside my classroom walls.
Sometimes having a safe space to let go of whatever is affecting us at home or having to focus on a calculus problem instead of dwelling on our private thoughts can be beneficial.
Yet I also strive to have personal connection and encourage productive discussions that focus on real world issues.
I know each day is not always a success. I know some days, my lesson plans will not spark a child’s imagination. I know some days I am exhausted and don’t have energy to invest in the struggling student.
Yet other days I see the student’s eyes light up when we discuss the current financial market or when we make a connection to modern racial tensions. Life as a teacher is full of small moments that add up over the course of a unit, semester, year, decade, and beyond.
Our goal is not to master every day, but to let our students in on the secret: We want them to succeed.
We want them to become future leaders who find important solutions.
That is our purpose.