The children are watching

Guest blog by Barbara Osborne

English Language Arts, Grade 7 Teacher

Guilford County, NC

Public school educators sometimes forget that the students who amaze, surprise, and sometimes frustrate us are just children. They are learning more than just academics from us — much of it from the way we conduct ourselves.

This past Friday my students entered the classroom in their usual, noisy fashion. It didn’t take long for one young man (who is often a behavior issue) to ask me if something was wrong. I wondered if my body language was that obvious to the students.  I replied that I was leaving school early for an appointment. Of course, the next questions were about why I was leaving and where I was going.

My oldest son, Paul, has Perthes Disease. The hip is made of a ball and socket. Perthes Disease is a condition in which the ball part of the hip is flat. The doctor called it a “square peg in a round hole.”

I explained Paul’s condition and that he would have surgery in December.  The questions these children asked blew me away.  They showed compassion for not only for me, but also for my son, who they had never met.

They asked if I would stay with him in the hospital, so he doesn’t get scared.  They shared how their mother or grandmother comforts them.  They asked what he would do all those hours in the hospital. I heard some interesting suggestions. They asked all the important questions concerning young people, today, like would he have his phone and Internet service.

Every time I enter my classroom irritated at a colleague, parent, or student, the students are watching. Every time I am amazed at their answers, whether they are correct and imaginative, or incorrect and imaginative, the students are watching.

As I go through my daily lessons being amazed, surprised, and sometimes frustrated, I need to remind myself that I teach children — 12-year-old children.

They are not data points.  They have feels, fears, and insight that are affected by my moods and actions. Sometimes they show me that adults could take lessons from them.



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