Things can get rather challenging in inner-city schools near Spring Break. Come to think of it, working in an Inner-City school, or any school, for that matter, is always challenging. Staff are tired and have been working hard for months! Students are also tired and some may be feeling the stress of an upcoming break and what that may bring for them at home. The challenges lately have made me reflect on how important we are to our students and the power of our influence.
For some students (probably more than we will ever realize), school is their safe place. School is where they feel most comfortable. Our classrooms are where they feel welcome. School is a place where they feel listened to and appreciated for who they are. For many, school is a place to get nourishment – both emotional and physical. School, for many of our students, is the place where they are accepted and provided with the opportunities to interact and socialize with others in positive ways.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe strongly that all of our parents are doing the best they can with what they have. They want the best for their kids, even though they may not be able to provide the best for them at this time. Our parents love their kids with all their heart, even though that may not always be evident to their children.
So, how we react when our students present us with challenges is imperative to the well-being of our students and their trust in us as educators. We must remember that we are the adults and it is our responsibility to respond in an appropriate manner.
When thinking of our students and their behaviour, it makes me think of this quote:
Recently, I came across a blog by Michael Lucas (Superintendent in South Carolina) entitled, Why do kids misbehave? On 4 slides in his post, Mr. Lucas outlines reasons why kids misbehave and how we, as parents and educators, can respond when misbehaviour occurs. I love that in each response, he maintains that we should remain calm. That is of utmost importance for our students and for us to develop trust with our most challenged kids in the most challenging times.
One thing that I think is missing from each of Mr. Lucas’ slides, and perhaps it is just understood that this would be given, is WAIT time. It is so important to provide the student (and adults) with space and time. This time allows educators (and parents) to be able keep control over themselves in the most difficult situations. Hopefully, when given time, all parties will be able to breathe, calm down, reflect on the situation, and react in appropriate ways.
So, as the year continues and we find ourselves tired, easily stressed and losing our patience, please remember that for many of our students, we are all they have. They may not show us that they need us in the best ways, however it is imperative to our students for us to remember that they they do, in fact, need us! Always!