It’s amazing how complicated we can make things as adults. As our world comes more complex and our worries get big, and heavy, and “adult”, sometimes it’s difficult to see and internalize important truths.
When the stay at home order was put in place last spring, like many of us, I found myself struggling. I missed being at recess and in the lunchroom. I missed hugs and high fives at the front of the school. I missed riding the bus home with students and chatting about their day. I missed all of it.
But there was no time for self-pity. Our students, though tucked away in their homes, were still our students, and they needed us perhaps more than ever.
So, I started calling kids on their birthdays. I would sing songs to them on the phone and schedule virtual conversations with them. I would jump into their virtual class meetings and join in the fun by running through my house…trying to find something that started with the letter “R” to bring back to my seat. I would record myself doing read alouds of my favorite children’s books and teachers and students would do the same.
There was one 2nd grade student in particular last year who needed extra TLC because of some things that were going on at home. The extended time at home magnified these struggles because going to school had been an escape from that reality. So, we would spend time together every week on Google Meet, chatting, and doing fun things like playing with our make-up and pretending we were doing make-up tutorials. I have her to thank for a new found appreciation for blue eye shadow.
During these moments of connection, I would ask her and ask other students, “Before we hang up, what advice do you have for me right now?
Her advice was often so pure and simple and yet on point. It was truly what I needed to hear. She would say things like, “You’re doing the best you can and that’s great!” Or “You are trying hard today, and you should feel really proud of that.” Or “It’s ok if you make a mistake. You’re learning!” Or “Keep going. You’ve got this!’
Such important truths and reminders. It’s so sweet because I have a feeling that a lot of what was said to me was repeated advice that an adult took the time to say to them. Teachers, parents, adults…kids are listening. You matter. They are listening and taking in all of that good, really important stuff you have to say, and they are carrying it in their hearts.
And when given the opportunity, kids carry our hearts in their hearts.
We are never too young to make a difference.
We can lead from every seat.
Keep going. You’ve got this!