"A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Brooks Adams

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Other Stuff

Many teachers know that the hardest part of their job is "the other stuff". By that we mean everything that does not have directly to do with instruction and teaching, but has a HUGE, practically incalculable amount to do with whether our students are ready to learn. How can kids be expected to learn well and receptively when they are tired or hungry, or do not know what or who will greet them when they go home that day? Even if school is the best, safest place that they will be that day (and for many kids it is), how can they learn when the rest of life is so upsetting and unsettled? Today, a great teacher at my school saw one of her former students "steaming" through the halls upset and angry. She knew that this child probably was upset because of an unhappy and tenuous home situation--but the kid could not cope with school right now. My friend was able to take the child aside, calm her down and make her feel a little better for the moment. The child went back to her class ready to learn--for the moment. This is an everyday occurrence for many teachers, but it is really only a salve for the underlying problem. Kids need stability, kids need love--until they get that, they cannot fulfill their potential. This costs society in many ways, and for many years--but what can all of us do about it?

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