The first school bell rang on Tuesday for most students in the area.
There were first-day jitters for both students, parents, and yes, even teachers, as they all embark on another school year.
Some students entered school for the first time or for the last, moving on to a new grade in a new school, leaving elementary behind for middle school, or middle school for high school.
For us parents, this is also the time of year that we sit back and think how fast the time has gone and how quickly our children are growing up. Teachers reflect on students that they have had in the past and where they are now and what they have done with their lives.
And then there are the students. Some are dreading the start of another school year, while some are excited, as it means another day closer to graduation. Others are sad because they will miss their previous teacher or they will be in a class with a new group of students. And still some, whether they know it or not, are happy because they are back in a place where they feel loved and safe.
At one of our back-to-school meetings this week, our superintendent showed the staff a video called “Every Opportunity.” The video starts out with a student getting on the bus and being ignored by the driver.
“Did you see that?”, a child’s voice says. “Why would anyone do that?”
As the students are walking into school, the principal just hurries them along and acts like they are a bother. The teacher talks down to the students in class and in the hallway and the lunch worker speaks harshly to a student who forgot his lunch number.
“School is hard enough,” the voice continues. “This kind of stuff just makes it harder.”
The second half of the video shows the exact opposite behavior and truthfully, how a student should be treated and feel when they are at school.
The message from the student to teachers is clear, as the child’s voice tells us:
“Learn all that you can so that you can challenge us to be our best.”
“Share yourself with us and show us how to share ourselves with others.”
“Give us courage. Give us compassion. Help us find our own voices so we can become who we are meant to be.”
If you think raising YOUR children is tough, and as a father of three, it is, imagine having 20-30 students (depending on if you live in a district where they like to cram the classrooms to their breaking point or not), from all walks of life and backgrounds under your care, with little to no help.
Teachers strive to do their best each and every day for students, but none of us are perfect. This video hit home for me as it is just another reminder to myself that these wonderful students whom I am blessed to have in my classroom, need and desire the feeling of acceptance from us, the adults they look up to.
But this is not about what just a teacher should do, this is about what we ALL should be doing.
Children need to feel respected, wanted and loved. They need to have their voices heard. Remember, these young minds, some of whom have seen their fair share of heartache, only know what they are taught or what they see or how they are made to feel at home.
Children need believe in themselves and the only way they can achieve that is if they have someone believing in them. We need to build our young minds up because there is plenty in today’s world that will try to tear them down.
We need to enforce in our children, parents and teachers alike, that it is okay to dream. In fact, as the saying goes, the best dreams happen when you’re awake.
We need to let the children be children. Let them play, run, laugh and most of all, have FUN! There will be plenty of time for them to worry about the things we adults have to worry about when they become adults themselves. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to teach them responsibility.
Stop wishing for more time with your children as they grow and start DOING something about it. Love them like there is no tomorrow, for nothing in our life is guaranteed. Be active in their lives. Why should they care, if they feel you don’t? Participate in their school functions, conferences, homework and read with your child. Show them that school is important, otherwise, why should they try hard to do well?
They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste. But I think the mind of a child is a terrible thing to ignore.
Submitted by Mark McGlothlen