Anyone who knows me understands how passionate I am about knowing your students beyond the data given to you and this was again reiterated a few weeks ago as I listened to an incredibly brave young 21 year old man called Chris Kilkenny.
@kilkennychris has a very interesting perspective and one that needs to be heard. Chris spoke about the challenges of growing up, education, school and caring for himself and siblings, the impact of poverty and of being noticed.
If you have time and want to know about the impact of poverty on the lives students, who may be in your classroom everyday, you might want to take a look at the following link. It’s very honest and pulls no punches and it will change you forever: https://youtu.be/jBogsSeavqE
So many aspects of what Chris so honestly and humbly shared, battered my psyche but one especially tipped me over the edge. What was a troubled and extremely challenging existence became a whole lot worse thanks to a teacher who frankly just didn’t know their students, the ones in front of them which I found absolutely heartbreaking. Without a doubt those students placed in so called ‘sub-groups’ are known to us but beyond that; do we know the extent of traumatic home lives therefore the daily challenges our students face before even arriving at school? We can’t know everything, some may argue, yet surely it’s our duty to make sure we do our utmost to support students in challenging circumstances in our classrooms. Planning lesson activities carefully that extend, enrich, excite and include the all learners in front of us is our job. Also making sure that any ‘sensitive’ elements of the lesson won’t upset, disturb, undermine or antagonise those same students?
I love my job, working with young people and seeing the progress they make is a privilege. To see the wonderful humans they become over time is fantastic, a true joy. It’s not always easy but if we do indeed know the students in our classrooms, outside in the playground, the ones here and there, the ones walking alone or those on lookout we see whilst on duty; we notice them, hopefully acknowledge and engage with them. We shape futures, change mindsets and maybe make a difference through noticing and engaging. We just have to care enough to get to know them and their amazing minds, to know what makes them tick and hook them in to great learning experiences that reinforces, challenges but also provokes curiosity and further questions about themselves, their learning, their futures and encourage them to think from a different perspective.
Know your students because when you do you speak to their hearts not just their minds. If we know them we notice them and by noticing and acknowledging them it could make a difference or be the difference. Having someone to see them and ask if they ok being everything.Image via http://www.culture24.org.uk