Sunday, November 13, 2016

Use your door

Let's just cut to the chase.  Things are crazy right now.  With the recent election and the increased divisiveness that it has caused, coupled with wounds from racial tensions that still exist in our city, conditions are primed for separateness and fear.  
Several years ago I was feeling down and beginning to doubt myself with the lack of encouragement or buy-in I was getting from other teachers and administrators on new grading practices I was trying.  I was explaining this to a more veteran teacher that I respect, and I will never forget what he told me.  He said, "Patrick, you know your classroom has a door right?  Sounds like you need to close it and get to work".  Sometimes the best tool in classrooms and schools to maintain a positive culture is the door.
Much of the time we are encouraged to bring the outside in, listen to all channels and take in new ideas, to stay relevant, and create global classrooms.  This week there were students in my school coming into school extremely upset because they afraid of their families being deported.  Racial slurs and prejudice talk increased as students saw it modeled more.  These are times to close the door.  Inside our schools and classrooms we GET to decide what words and actions are acceptable.  We can choose to create an environment that encourages forward thinking and discourages fear and hate.  If the personal identities of our students are threatened and ideals are encroached on we have to pull the drawbridge up, protect what we have, and discourage what threatens. Current state of things are a mess and kids are coming into schools with real fears.  Good news!  We are the gatekeepers.