“Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.”
― Amy Leigh Mercree
Recently I agreed to be a part of a committee called RTI which means “response to intervention.” It is a program designed to help students who need a little extra help with their classes or behavior. I didn’t really think much about but I need hours for my Masters internship so I thought, why not!
This past week we met for the first time to review the files of the students that had been identified. At first there was nothing unusual, just a few kids that were habitual trouble makers and we were trying to come up with ideas to help them to be successful. Everything was going pretty well until one of the members brought up a kid that he had just enrolled the previous week. The assistant principal said that he was only a freshman but he did not want to be in school and was so adamant about it that he was causing a scene in the office. When the principal spoke to the student one on one he was asking him if he was having trouble at home or in school and when he pressed he saw the student start to break down and cry. As we talked in the committee we discovered that he had been a good student early in junior high but something happened during the 8th grade caused him to snap. It was all I could do not to cry in the middle of the meeting. I can’t hear stories like that without thinking about how we can somehow make a difference. I had a new perspective on the committee. I suddenly found myself wondering what could be so bad that would cause a student to hate school so bad that he wanted to fight? I sat there and thought about him and wondered how many other kids there were like him?
It reminded me of something that I have thought about quite a bit over the past four or five years. That is, that we as teachers really have no clue what our students are going through or have gone through. Since I have been in my current teaching position and school I have had one student painfully admit that they had been sexually abused in the past, three or four admit that they had thoughts of suicide and at least six that lost a parent or close family member while in my class. I imagine that if that many have actually admitted it, then there are many others that are too ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone.
It reminds me that as a teacher my job is to teach these students Chemistry or Physics. But as a human being it is my responsibility to help them deal with life. In my opinion there are some things that are more important than academics. Sometimes students have real issues and if I can somehow help them with that then I consider that to be successful. If I can make a connection with a student maybe I can make a difference. Numerous former students have told me that school was difficult for them and that I made it more bearable for them. Those are the stories I cherish and long to hear. Lately I have been thinking about my future and what I will do once I get my Masters degree. I still don’t know exactly what the future holds but part of my decision will based on how much I will be able to help students.