All the technology in the world and the excellent teaching in the world doesn't matter a “hill of beans” if kids aren't watched properly on the playground.
We often take the teachers who cannot control their classrooms and move them out of the classroom. Where do many of them go? Onto the playground, the last place they should be.
Attentive, diligent, loving adults must vigilantly watch children. Every room must be a safe zone. Children must feel safe. They need to trust that teachers are watching keenly enough so that the initial perpetrator is caught… because more often than not, when the kid who is being picked on retaliates, they are the ones who are victimized all over again.
Meet Me, the Underdog
I write this because I am an underdog. I was picked on horribly in middle school.
Tomorrow I have my twenty year class reunion and you know what? I don't want to go. I really don't.
I feel fat. I feel angry. I don't want to watch the slide show with 2000 photos (most of which I took) and see only 3 of me. (Uh, we had only 32 in the class.) I want revenge… and yet that is not what I do nor what I believe in.
After twenty years it all comes rushing back. Every time my own children go through it, I have flashbacks.
Those who have never had a child or grandchild experience the traumatization of incessant “picking” or gone through the gauntlet themselves cannot imagine it.
You can usually see those who haven't been through it because they say,
“My high school class just wasn't that way. We just didn't pick on anyone.”
Can the cat in this picture identify with the mouse? Not if they've never been cornered and helpless!
If this is you, you need to know that every school has their child who is picked on… every class… every school. It is there.
We are human beings and we are very good at being unkind to one another. If humans are there, so is happiness… so is hurt. It just is.
Make your area a Safe Zone
This is not a pity party, this is to point something out. Kids learn where they feel safe. I tell students my story so they know that I don't put up with it. I don't like the rolling of the eyes, the sarcasm, the looks… I can see it a mile off because I lived it… I still live it.
Will this pain ever leave? I doubt it.
Is this pain for a purpose? I know it.
Do you seek to help the hurting?
I know what it feels like… I actively seek out those who are picked on to actively find out what they are good at. I give them extra love. After all, everyone loves the popular, it is the one who isn't so popular who needs a little extra.
When we have our senior slide show, I make the students count how many pictures are in there of each senior… it is going to be as even as I can make it. It happened to me, but as far as it concerns me, over my dead body will it happen to someone else if I can help it.
Technology isn't the only thing. It's one thing.
And don't get so enamored with technology that you forget that physical or emotional trauma whether in the classroom, on the playground, or in the home has a profound, indelible mark on the student's performance and your performance as a school.
A hurting child is expending a lot of energy on pain management.
A safe school with watchful teachers creates a good learning environment which then promotes excellence.
For if this pain and agony that I feel at this moment can make you a little more watchful and help just one student, I'd like to say it was worth it. I'm not feeling so charitable right now. Right now, I'm just hurting and it goes so very deep.
Tomorrow is my reunion.
Today, it was my child on the playground.
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