We must remember to have empathy for our kids, for how hard it is for them to even live sometimes.
I want to try to do three things when I teach kids who are hurting:
- their desire to be heard, to have their thoughts recognized.
- trying to love them no matter what a pain they are.
- having empathy for them as they struggle to find their place in life.
I have to call myself out on this one. I have always felt that I do those three things in my classroom. But I can’t say that I have SHOWN them those things. There is a difference. How to show them that we care to listen, care to love them, care to have empathy for them?
Two words come to mind – cheerfulness and humor. I need to open up pathways of communication with them that sparkle with cheerfulness, have humor, just a general kind of happy humor no matter how I am feeling on any particular day. I must build roads to their eyes that sparkle. The roads need to sparkle. When I look at them, that communication path must sparkle. And I need to develop that kind of interaction with the whole class as well. What business have we to avoid setting our primary focus on building sparkly and funny/mirthful pathways into our students minds? Is teaching the language really that serious? Are not the kids totally needing SOMEONE to show them some lighthearted approval of them if they are to even begin to absorb the CI?
I say that we do not have the right, in this world where bleakness in adults is the only thing that many of our students experience on a daily basis, we do not have the right to withhold the sparkly and the funny quality in our daily communications with our students.
It’s a hard sell, that, and it is almost impossible for a book teacher to accomplish, when most of the kids have little interest in the subject matter, but we can do it when we use stories. And if we don’t feel like faking it until we make it on that point, then we need to perhaps consider leaving the profession for the good of our kids and ourselves, because we are too serious for the kids. It’s an ugly model. It’s not about the gains in language at all, is it? It’s never about the gains. What’s it all about then? I vote for the word “compassion” as one possible answer to that last question.