Admin at my school came up with this awesome way to get kids in their seats and working as soon as possible. They named it bell work. 10% of a student’s grade is given in the first 10 minutes of class. As teachers we have to come up with creative, short exercises to get student in the classroom, in their seats and working as efficiently as possible. Needless to say, sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t.
Last week I gave my 7th graders a question based off a story we had read in their textbook. “What is something you believe a senior citizen can learn from you?”
Tired of being taught, the chance to teach lit up their imagination. Their answers made me reflect.
There was an overwhelming call for the elderly to learn about the technology that now rules the world. A desire to have their lingo understood and their style respected. Deeper still, they were sure they had a lot to teach the venerable about happiness and joy. Concerned that their mature hearts were hardened becoming bitter and, in many cases, just plain mean. It was not a feeling of mockery but of concern as they wrote about grandma, grandpa, mom, and dad. They wanted it to be different. They yearned for a closeness that they felt would never come. “I could teach them about diversity and inclusivity”, they stated hopefully. “They don’t get it, but I could teach them, but they won’t listen.” They won’t listen. She doesn’t understand. He doesn’t care enough to pay attention. Over and over again, they don’t listen.
As a teacher I was warned, kids can be cruel. If you know me, you know they have a plenitude of options to pick from when wanting to belittle me or make fun… but they don’t. They have grown up in this environment of inclusivity and diversity and they defend it. They fight for kindness and acceptance. They speak out for injustice, and they shut down in times of animosity. They don’t want to fight and the cool kids and generally the ones that get along with everyone. They compliment your outfit and watch out to not hurt your feelings. They are sweet and kind. They are ignored and undervalued. Corrected, once again, by God’s perfect plan to shine light in darkness, my heart now flutters to go into that classroom on Monday mornings to see what I will learn today.