I woke up on Tuesday morning with swollen eyes, a dull headache, and searching for coffee half awake (the life of a parent with 3 kids under 5). I’m sure you’ve experienced this at sometime in your life before...some more than others. My 2 year old daughter was up multiple times throughout the night, poor little girl. The next morning I was a little ashamed of how I reacted to her when she woke up. Being sleep deprived, I may not have used the kindest tone of voice with her.
I had a conversation with a colleague earlier this week. She was extremely excited to tell me about a convention she attended the previous Friday. This colleague discussed different components that she learned about a child’s brain and how it’s still developing. She further stated that she thought as adults, not just teachers, we often times forget this and tend not to be patient with children. Of course I agreed with her and went about my business.
As I drove into work Tuesday morning, I heard a segment on NPR interviewing Michael Padella, a democratic member of the New Mexico senate. He stated that he passed through his state congress a bill that would “hide” the fact that a students receive free or reduced lunch. At some schools students have to go into separate lines depending on if they receive free or reduced lunch or regular lunch. As I listened to this, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to be singled out like this. Further, it was stated that students that owe too much money on their lunch account get a different meal; a piece of bread with cheese, PB and J, or some other type of “cold” lunch. Again, I can’t imagine what this would feel like as a student, being separated from your peers. As an adult, I would hate to be separated into different lines depending on income, at lets say a grocery store for example.
You may ask yourself what’s with all the random stories? As I look back at these different conversations, events, and activities that I experienced, I ask myself did I use the kindest voice? As an educator, I know that we need to expect “good behavior” in our classrooms. What does this look like? Have we taught our students these behaviors? Even after we teach or students, do they follow them? As an adult, I know that after I learn something sometimes I have to be retaught. Luckily, most of the time people are patient with me. Are we truly being patient enough with our students? Sometimes I wonder. Their brains are still developing after all.
We are expected to close the achievement gap for students on standardized tests, yet we’re singling them out, often times on things they can’t control like income or brain development. How are we supposed to do this when students are constantly worried about their lunch account? Or maybe they are worried about doing something wrong because they don’t remember something that we taught them one time in September. Sometimes I feel like closing the gap is an impossible mission, like putting a square object through a round hole, but we need to continue to try. Moral of the story...maybe we should worry less about test scores and more about treating others, especially kids, like you would like to be treated.