How are the Children?
A very good friend of mine, Dr. Terry Harris, posed this question in his Ted Talk last August. It’s a great question that us adults always seem to answer based on our own skewed interpretation. But really, How are the Children? Amid the halt of the school year due to Covid-19, many school districts went into overdrive making sure our babies had steady meals throughout the day. My district even went as far as to set up Hot Spots in the neighborhood parks so that students would be able to do and complete their work online.
But how are the Children?
I teach high schoolers and for my underclassmen, they are quite excited for the “break” from school. I get it seeing that many school districts were headed into Spring Break as schools nationwide were closing in response to Covid-19. But the seniors I teach had a very different perspective. They are extremely concerned about the ending of a chapter of their lives and the future plans of the next chapter, and there is no amount of bag lunches that can help them see past the fact that the longer we remain out of school, the more unlikely it is that they will experience their Senior Prom or Graduation Ceremony. Along with that concern exists the questions of post-secondary plans. With all this uncertainty my heart breaks at the fact there are no definite answers we can provide them.
But how are the Children?
While thinking about the class of 2020 and their future plans, my athletes came to mind. I am also a high school track coach and my season was also victim to Covid-19. As we were threatening to close school prior to March 17th, many of my athletes would ask about what would happen to their upcoming seasons. I tried to down play the concern but they are valid questions pertinent to them. Many of them have devoted their lives for this very moment to “cash in” for all their hard work. With the existence of so much uncertainty, a sense of hopelessness ensues. I believe that we are going about providing hope. Our kids know much better than we realize what they want, what they need, and though food is important, our kids are missing the validation and acceptance they get from showing up to school.
So how are the children? They are scared, they are nervous, they are anxious, they are curious. They miss their friends, their teachers, and most importantly miss missing going home, because they have been stuck there for too long now.
So its important that all of us at-home-teachers (parents and teachers alike) handle this juncture with the consideration that our kids are missing the autonomy that they have thrived off of for years. Nothing about this situation is normal and for us to treat as such is not fair to us or them. So remote teachers and home school parents try to approach your students with a bit more compassion and patience as we navigate these uncommon waters. Relationships are paramount here. It’s almost like the first 10 days of school all over again; new norms have to be established and we have to be more reasonable in thinking about the way we give and assess assignments.
Teach with compassion. Compassion?! What is compassion? Compassion as defined by the Oxford dictionary is, sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. To be sympathetic shouldn’t be contingent from what we experience, because our perspectives will always be biased to our own experiences.
From my years of working with kids as a mentor, coach, and teacher, I have seen firsthand that the lives these children are living physically and emotionally have to ability to exceed our own imaginations. So it’s extremely dangerous to draw our own conclusions about what “students” can do especially during this these times of chaos and uncertainty. None of us live where they live, have the responsibilities they have, nor have the parents they have; so stop acting like we understand and that our work is the most important thing in their lives.
How are the children?
We don’t know, but what we do know is that it’s of our best interest as those who work with and for kids to be available for them in any way we can. Tutor, push them, advise them, and listen to them. Be understanding to them even though some things may not make sense to you. It will go far. No one has the answers, but we do know how to show we care, so let that be your answer. Care More, then maybe then the children will be alright.