This week is a week for family, giving and caring. Unfortunately this time of year tends to show the staff who is missing out on the important needs, like food, clothing and shelter.
My school just finished a food drive for our school’s food panty. We serve up to 25 families each week, sending bags of food home on the weekends because they have fallen on hard times. We have a great group of ladies who come in to organize the pantry, stuff bags and fill in what is low. They work with a local church to make sure our kids and families are taken care of; it really is a cool program.
We also participate in an Angel Tree. I picked up an angel for a 6 year old girl who needed clothes; what a perfect way to spend my time! I loved picking out cute little outfits, especially knowing that one of our own kiddos would be wearing them to school.
I personally try to help out the students who walk into my classroom, whether they have a bad day or a bad home life.
- I always have food in my office: Someone comes in crying? Have a chocolate. Someone needs breakfast? Have a granola bar. Food solves everything.
- I work with kids to pay for their uniforms; they can work off debt (if that works for their parents, they’re just middle schoolers after all.) or do a payment plan.
- I let kids express themselves in my classroom. Can’t handle working on an assignment in class? I’ll give you an alternate task to get your mind off whatever is bothering you. My room is decorated so much because I have kids who come in and say “Ms. S, can I decorate today? I want to take my mind off (X).” I always let them.
Yes, kids need to know how to read, write, read music and do math, but they also need to have their basic needs met. They cannot focus on fractions when they are hungry. They don’t care about reading when they may get beat up when they go home.
During this holiday season, be understanding. Not every student will have a great Christmas break. Not every student will have a large Thanksgiving dinner. Not every student will have a coat when they have to walk to school in the snow. This is the world we live in.