#SOL16 Day 12
Yesterday sign ups opened for a workshop day next week. I love that our district is adopting an EdCamp-ish model of offering voice and choice in our professional development opportunities. I’ll be presenting at one of the sessions, and so I had two others in which to choose my own PD. As I looked down the list of offerings I was struck by how many were not related to academics at all.
- Active Shooter
- Anxiety Disorder
- Substance Abuse
- Pain Based Behavior
Schools have clearly had to become more than institutions of learning. We’ve had to become caregivers. That is not to say we hadn’t always been to some degree. Most of us are here to teach the child and not just the curriculum, and so we have always looked for ways to support the needs of our learners; whether they were academic, emotional, social, or physical.
Our schools offer food, clothing, counseling, behavioral support, health care clinics, dental cleanings and screenings, vaccinations, homeless liaisons… Teachers are expected to become highly qualified in our area of instruction and ensure that ALL students become highly proficient in achieving the standards. In essence, we are expected to become everything for everyone. And we try! I don’t know how many conversations I have each week with teachers stressing over their struggle to meet the needs of a child (or children) in their classrooms because their needs are greater than we can address.
And so I applaud our school district for recognizing that teachers need support to help these students, and that these students may have nowhere else to turn for that help. I am proud that our teachers are putting the most basic of our students’ needs first and learning about ways to address them. But I am sad that we don’t have more sessions for sharing amazing book titles, implementing genius hour, sharing successful strategies and practices, etc. I am sad that our students need us to focus our energy and professional development on dealing with societal issues that are causing them such trauma and grief. And I am incredibly sad for so many of our students.
I will balance my day by offering a session on Close Writing to help foster greater purpose and passion for our students in writing, and then taking sessions to help me better understand the non-academic needs of my students. I will focus my professional development on supporting the whole learners…the human beings who are counting on me to make a difference in their lives.