"I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I'll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here. I have things to do, people to impress, and places to go."
Mrs. Rita Pierson (Filmed May 2013 at TED Talks Education)
After five years, I graduated from Middle School to High School (meaning I moved from teaching in the middle school to teaching in the high school). This evoked in me a TON of emotions.
I think perhaps I now have complete empathy for those eighth graders getting ready to experience their first year of High School. I remember talking about how I believe God puts us through things so we can help others later, well, this move taught me something and helped me remember something even more important!
How well I remember....
... the nervousness of my first year of high school. The school seemed so big! The number of people scared the heck out of me! My schedule seemed like a never ending list of classes! Will any of my friends be in my classes? Will I be able to make friends if my friends are not in my classes? Do I have to pick a career NOW? If not, when? So many unknowns, so many questions, so many worries! Ahhhhh!!!
I remember walking through those doors for the first time, filled with anxiety...I just knew I was going to get lost and I wasn't going to see even one of my friends.
I can honestly tell you, I experienced many of those same feelings last year! The difference? I'm an adult ...BAH...who am I kidding. We adults experience those same feelings when we are in the midst of change...albeit perhaps the exact same questions and unknowns are not in place, but there are questions, there are unknowns, and there are fears and anxieties. However, I believe, as an adult, I am better able to cope. This got me wondering....Do we teach our children ways to cope with stress and change?
I would love to say, yes, of course we do.
Unfortunately, I think perhaps this type of thing gets set aside and we forget to help them learn to cope with new, uncertain changes and situations.
Perhaps we need to pay a bit more attention to what our students are experiencing. Remembering that not all of them will adjust at the same rate, not all of them will choose good coping mechanisms, not all of them will come out on top.
Maybe, just maybe, we can offer a bit of comfort or perhaps guidance, maybe a smile or a friendly face.
Maybe, just maybe, that little bit of comfort, guidance, smile, or friendly face will be just enough to help students find better ways to figure it out when they are in new or unknown situations.
Perhaps the key isn't as much about academics as it is about relationships! I recently viewed a TED Talk by Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion (May 2013) and I was touched by her stories of how forging a simple relationship with a student can make a great difference.
In her talk, Mrs. Pierson says,
"Can we stand to have more relationships? Absolutely. Will you like all your children? Of course not. And you know your toughest kids are never absent. (Laughter) Never. You won't like them all, and the tough ones show up for a reason. It's the connection. It's the relationships. And while you won't like them all, the key is, they can never, ever know it. So teachers become great actors and great actresses, and we come to work when we don't feel like it, and we're listening to policy that doesn't make sense, and we teach anyway. We teach anyway, because that's what we do." (Ted Talk 2013)
Let's face it, kids are stressed....as much as we adults are stressed, perhaps in different ways, but stress is stress! They desire relationships as much as we do!
Lets find ways, even 'out of the box' ways to show kids they are not alone in their stress and help them find ways to cope!
Perhaps we can all be just a little bit better at dealing with change!