I was in one of those meetings recently where you know you need a big box of Kleenex nearby. It was one of those meetings where you listen and learn about really complex stuff kids should never have to deal with. But they do. And the people who help support students know this all too well.
The truth is, I can’t really think of a time in my career where I wasn’t having these meetings, but this one hit me harder than most.
At the beginning of the meeting I told myself the Kleenexes weren’t for me. And I was mistaken.
I’m pretty sure you don’t need to know all the specifics of this meeting. You’ve had your own. And besides that, I’m not sure I could bring myself to type those words if I needed to.
All I know is the students we serve need us to pay attention to so much more than scantron scores and school improvement data. There’s a big, scary world of stuff they’re navigating and our professional instincts to support them as whole people matter. Maybe more than we know.
I think this is one reason many of us are feeling so conflicted. The system isn’t seeing it yet. But we are. There’s an invisible conflict playing out in education and this is one conflict our kids need us to commit to seeing through.
I wrote plenty about this conflict in my latest book, but here's my best advice right now...
Don’t ever let anyone tell you (directly or by omission) that students’ academic learning is the only thing that matters in school.
Because I just had one of those meetings where I was reminded otherwise.
If this blog post resonated, you might like my newest book, Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education. The book tackles a tension many educators are feeling using a combination of stories and practical strategies. If you’re interested in technology integration, Renegade Leadership: Creating Innovative Schools for Digital-Age Students is a best-seller with Corwin Press. Both books are built on the belief that everything we do in education starts with relationships and connectedness.