When I started my new job last fall, there were so many new people and ideas to explore. As I shifted my focus to helping teachers, the work that happened before the first day of school had my mind busy and not emotionally prepared for the day students arrived. A school really comes to life when the children inhabit the hallways and classrooms and the first few days with students, I realized the children in my new schools were not the same as where I’d come from.
After a few days with students, I was walking down the hallway, apparently with my mouth open. Clearly I looked shocked or surprised about something and the guidance counselor pulled me aside to ask me about it.
“Well, I’m not sure how to say this, but the kids here… well, they’re different from where I came from…” I began.
“Go on,” she said with a kind tone and look on her face. Guidance counselors always seem to know how to get folks to chat.
“The kids here – all of their basic needs are met. They’re fed, their clothes fit and are clean, they’re happy, they’re – ready to learn.”
We then had a discussion about basic needs and how when kids come to school ready to learn, the job of teachers is made that much easier.
To be clear, teachers at my old school – and many all over the world – spend their mornings (and much of the day) helping kids get ready to learn. My students were all fed, clothing checked over, and their emotional well-being checked on before we even started Morning Meeting. If our students’ basic needs aren’t met, how can we expect them to learn?
I’m constantly in awe of teachers who provide this level of nurturing and support daily. I’m also grateful many teachers don’t need to.