Saturday, January 21, 2017

This Is Why We Fight


Yesterday was a hard day for me. Post-election, I was in mild denial about what would happen. And then, it happened.

At school, the kids were a little gloomy, too. They drew a sad face next to the date. They talked a little about their fears. And then they got to work.

I wanted to find a way to act upon our collective sadness and fears. Many people are marching today to stand up for equality and justice. I wanted to a find a way to remind my students that they matter. Their work, their ideas, their collaboration, their sense of community - all have an impact.

When I got home from school, I started writing progress notes to some of the kids who had shown leadership, kindness, determination or effort in the past week. It was a small act, but it made me feel a little better about things.

I sent a note of congratulations to a student who had formed and was leading a project group. She and I had met twice over the last week about issues and needs. I was impressed with her ability to prioritize and communicate with her group. So I wrote a note to her and mom explaining just that.

Her reply blew me away. She wrote:

"Thank you. Also they encouraged me in the group. Also now they are some of my good friends.
They really inspire me to work super hard during the day.
We need some glue and markers so we can design the poster and make it."

Knowing that we work and walk together, she knew that the group made the difference - for her and for the outcome. With humility and kindness, she recognized that everyone's gifts mattered and that she could not be successful alone.

As I look at images from across the globe today of people standing together for what is true and right, I think of what that can mean for people. I think of the potential we have as a nation to, in the words of a 5th grader, "encourage the group" and "become friends" and "inspire others to work super hard during the day." This is why we fight.