Classroom teachers face an extreme challenge of engaging many students on various levels each and every day of the school year. Every child is coming from a different scenario. Some come with full bellies, others are starving. Some slept in a bed the night before, others left school not knowing where they would lay their heads down. Just as parents/families have the incredible responsibility of raising their children, teachers have the responsibility of preparing kids to become lovers of learning, knowledge seekers, and problem solvers.
Children represent such innocence and purity. They have their whole future ahead of them, and we often do not praise them for how resilient they truly are! As I reflect on some of the faces of the children I know, it amazes me to consider how strong they have to be to survive in their situations. Some of them handle their situations beautifully, smiling through it and keeping their positive dispositions. Others express frustration, anger, sadness, and fear by acting out, shutting down, blaming others, etc. I cannot blame kids for these behaviors...how could I? Having not experienced much of what they do, how can I judge them, shame them, or punish them for reacting to school this way?
The conclusion I have reached is this: Hilary is right! None of us are capable of raising or teaching kids on our own! It takes all of us working together to make it happen. These are OUR kids. We claim them ALL. Every person in a community shares a role in the rearing of children. Everyone who works with kids has an opportunity to assist in the efforts of raising a child to become successful. What an incredible responsibility we all have as adults to support OUR kids. After all, isn't that what we would want for the children in our own families?
Teachers and families, you are not alone. We are in this together. We can raise OUR kids with love, support, collaboration, and consistency. We can teach each other. We can learn from each other. We can be there for each other when challenges arise. A culture of "OUR kids" doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen. It starts with communication and connection. Engaging the community through shared experiences helps everyone have the same perspective of the challenges facing families and schools. By establishing relationships and communicating effectively to foster them, we begin to grow a culture of working together to raise OUR kids.
As educators, how can we make a more conscious effort to engage all shareholders in this vision of taking responsibility for OUR kids? What ways can we reach out to others, inviting them in to our cause? What can we do this week to communicate with the intent of connecting with families, community members, businesses, and other organizations?
Establishing the culture of "OUR kids" starts today. Let's do this!