Bigger Than Us

See More Slice of Life Writing over at Two Writing Teachers

See More Slice of Life Writing over at Two Writing Teachers

Today was one of those days where my job felt bigger than me, where the obstacles felt insurmountable, where I left the building wondering, “What are we doing here?”  For me, these days are rare.  But, today was one of those days.

I sat in meeting after meeting with my colleagues, looking at assessment data and talking about kids.  We discussed a lot of kids who are not quite meeting the benchmark, a lot of kids who are “struggling readers”.  So many of their stories started the same way.  Too many.

He has a lot of absences.
She’s missed over 30 days of school.
They live in a shelter.
He has witnessed some violence.
She never went to school last year.
When they came to our district, they were homeless. 

Story after story after story.  

I am not one to make excuses or to blame outside influences.  I’m not pointing the finger.  I’m certainly not giving up.  I’m not.

It’s just that it feels like the odds are so stacked against these kids, and they’re seven years old.  I listen to the stories of their lives, and think of course they can’t read.  It’s a wonder they even show up.

I’m not quitting these kids.  I’m not throwing my hands up in surrender.  

But today, it felt like the challenges were too great, the problems too deeply rooted.  Today was one of those days.

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16 thoughts on “Bigger Than Us

  1. I have taught in schools/districts such as yours. Many student circumstances certainly are heartbreaking and you feel as though there is no progress to be made. One school I taught at focused on connections and building resiliency through mentoring. On days like the one you experience today, we celebrated the small stuff – a smile that slipped out the corners of the quiet student, a hug from one that typically shies away from touch. First connections, then achievement – a challenge indeed. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for putting this out there. It’s definitely bigger than us. It’s definitely harder than we thought it would be. Thank you for putting your time into them too. I feel your exasperation here in your italics.

  3. It’s so important to keep this in our minds. Our kids come to us with a bellhop rolling a cart of baggage behind them. Some days it’s just too much. And you’re so right to voice it. The next day is always better. We teach. We love. We build. We carry some of their baggage for them for them a little bit. And it does make a difference.

  4. We live in those moments too and the stories are heartbreaking. Then we refocus and decide what can we do for them here, right here at school. We can’t control anything else, and to be honest, school is where the relationships matter the most, where the routine is constant, where everything is known for our students. We will still fight hard, even with only two months left of school — that’s what I wrote about today: http://literacyzone.blogspot.com/2014/03/solsc-hopeful-1831.html

  5. These kids, at such a young age, have gone through so much. You, more than once, wrote about not giving up on these kids. I believe that is so necessary to say out loud. Just as the frustrations are important to say out loud, as well. All aspects of this story are vital and need to be said out loud. Like you did.

  6. This story really touched my heart, and you wrote this so beautifully. I understand these kids and what they are feeling. I hope you continue to not give up on those kids and I’m grateful that you are doing this for those kids. Thank you.

  7. Hang in there and look deep for your ‘high hope self’. Every conversation means something for our students!

  8. I’m glad you wrote about this today. We really did all feel that in that room. Even though some people may have given up on them, we never will. Thanks for writing this.

  9. Your post is exactly why we do what we do! Who else do some of these students have – but us! Your words lead us into your heart and you certainly have a big one!

  10. One wise person once told me to remember to look in the mirror and not out the window– when we look in the mirrow we see the power to make a change. We have that power for 6 -7 hours 5 days a week. Your students are very lucky to have you — keep looking in the mirror- you make a difference every day.
    Clare

  11. There are two types of tired…physical and mental. I know many people who work physically harder than we do, but the mental fatigue is equally draining. What I hear in your words today is not a message of giving up, but rather a stronger message of perserverance for the sake of our kids.

  12. Sounds like more than 1 of us had a blue day! 😦 THANK YOU for not giving up on them, for having compassion for them, for giving them more because they get so much less elsewhere. THANK YOU!!!

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