It read: "I have a seventh grade student who has prepared all the work for Student Led Conferences but does not have a parent able to attend. We are trying to find adults to sit down with all of our students who do not have parents available for conferences, and this student seems to have really taken to you. I think this student would love to share the work with you if you are available sometime in the next couple of weeks. This would only take about 20 minutes, and we can be flexible with times. Is this something you would be interested in being a part of?"
I couldn't type my affirmative response quickly enough. I was honored to be thought of by this student and the teacher as someone who would be a part of something so personal as student led conferences. It was a proud moment for me as an educator in St. Johnsbury.
We coordinated a date and time, I arrived in the classroom, sat down and this student and I started our conversation. I tried to be supportive, but also challenging; compassionate, but also thorough; accepting, but also nudging for more growth. The conversation was marked by laughter, silence, awkward pauses, as well as times when we both tried to speak. It was a conversation that was exactly what you would expect if you sat down with any seventh grade student to discuss his or her experiences in school.
What was remarkable to me was the vulnerability that this young person chose to share with me, someone they have seen and chatted with only a handful of times this year. This young person spoke to me about their family, the challenges they face on a regular basis, and what is going well for them in school. They also spoke of deeply personal things that don't belong in this blog post, the content that is meaningful to them in classes, and how well the teachers build relationships.
I sometimes worry about the broad strokes we sometimes hear when it comes to "this generational of kids." The ones who are digital natives, who have grown up in an age where screens and social media are ever present. The ones who text, instead of call, who Snapchat, instead of talk in person, who often have their faces staring at devices.
This week, I connected purposefully with a seventh grade student at the St. Johnsbury School. A student that before September 10, 2018, I didn't even know existed. A student who has high-fived me a handful of times. A student who has seen me in the halls, and prior to this past week, has not said more than ten words to me in a single interaction. This student had really "taken to me" in those brief interactions.
Yes, these kids are into their digital devices - but as adults, we are too. Yes, these kids are using them more and more as ways to communicate with their peers - but as adults we are too. Yes, these kids are posting more and more on social media - but as adults we are too.
These kids are also looking to us for direction, as all kids do. They're looking to us to model what it means to live meaningfully in a world where there are so many claims to what is true and good. They're looking to connect with us.
We need to show up, everyday, for these kids.
|Photo courtesy of Pintrest|