Our typical family dinner routine begins with asking our kids about their day. "What was the best part of your day? Most frustrating? What did you learn that you'd like to explore further?" And as enthusiastic as our sixteen-year-old is, our twelve-year-old has been equally moody lately. Yes, I know, it comes with the territory of having a tween in the house. But when the girl who used to find excitement and adventure in every part of her day, from math to recess to chores, is completely turned off by school, it's very upsetting. Being a mother and a teacher, it's excruciating.
She said something incredibly insightful the other day, something that made me think that perhaps there was more to her mood than just being a tween. She looked up from her homework, homework she had been working on for two hours, and said, "You know, Mom, I wish teachers thought that every day was the first day of school."
I paused, absorbed her statement and asked, "How so?"
She continued, "Classes were exciting. Teachers were so happy then. They seemed to really like us; they seemed to like their job. Now, not so much!" And she turned back to her books to complete her homework.
As a mother, my heart broke. As an educator, my head understood.
I gave her a hug and shared a strategy with her that I thought might help. (She is bringing a journal to school and writing down one thing she finds interesting, funny or confusing in each of her classes. We're going to explore together. We'll see what happens.)
You'd better believe my lesson plan for the next day met her approval!
The mid-winter teaching slump hits us all; education is a draining profession, physically, emotionally and intellectually. But it's easy to find the energy to keep going when you see first-hand how directly you influence the growth of your students.
After two decades, I am still impressed by how perceptive kids can be. They pick up on everything! And if we're paying attention, it can make all the difference.
Educators. Students. Community members. Much more unites us than divides us, particularly knowing we all wear multiple hats. Building relationships. Thinking BIG.
Challenging and supporting one another. Developing engaged, empathetic citizens. Please join me in pondering how best to nurture these common ground connections.