Do the "back to school" displays of crayons, rulers, and spiral notebooks bring back good...or bad....memories of your school years? What about your favorite teacher? The first person who comes to mind is my second grade teacher and memories of the creative ways she used the chalkboard. She was the first person I wanted to tell about the arrival of my new baby brother. Sharing things with her seemed to be the most natural thing in the world. Teachers are often the first person a kid turns to with exciting news...and scary secrets. Identifying a teacher or person at school who a child can trust to tell if they have a problem is an essential part of every child's interview of at Dearing House. We recognize and appreciate the role of teachers in child protection!
I have other favorites, too. My fourth grade teacher began every morning in her classroom with piano playing and hymn singing. (Yes it was public school many many decades ago.) I was literally petrified to go to school and she must have known that singing would ease my fears. In middle school I considered my science teacher to be a slave driver, but you can guess who taught me the most....not just about cell division but more importantly, accountability. I learned perseverance from my Algebra teacher who was willing to work extra hours to get those formulas through my thick head. I credit my senior English teacher with nurturing my love of grammar! Each of these teachers provided support in very different ways without my even knowing it!
The impact of teachers goes WAY beyond reading, writing and 'rithmatic and there are decades of research on children's brain development to support that. School can be a safe haven for children in our communities who live in households plagued with violence, drugs, and alcohol. Unfortunately many children live with in an environment of toxic stress which compromises their learning, behavior, and health. Key to overcoming these obstacles is a relationship with at least one supportive adult....often a teacher or coach. While understanding mathematical formulas is a valuable skill, having a stable, supportive relationship with a teacher makes an even bigger difference in the healthy development of a child's mind.
Let's add a fourth element to the famous 3 R's of learning: Resilience! Relationships with teachers (and other supportive adults) offer significant opportunities for children to experience good outcomes in spite of adversity. More times than I can count (despite the efforts of my teacher to improve my math skills), children at Dearing House have shared how a teacher has made a difference in their lives.
Is there a teacher you can thank TODAY for bolstering you when things weren't easy? If you're a teacher reading this, thank you for each and every time you give a pat on the back to a discouraged child, or spend an extra minute (or hour) helping a child master their assignments. Do you know you are changing the architecture of that individual's brain in ways that will matter way beyond the end of the school year? And that child's sense of self-worth and mastery is the key component to preventing child sexual abuse because a child that is valued and appreciated by someone appropriate is significantly less likely to fall prey to a sex offender who targets emotionally starved children.
Resilience. Kids enjoying a good outcome...a good life... in spite of adversity. Teachers, parents, community leaders: Dearing House is working right alongside you in supporting healthy development and celebrating the future of children! The website for the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has wonderful information on brain architecture and ways to help kids. Check out the video below as a quick example about resilience.
Visitors tell us the learn a lot on our website so please send your friends to www.DearingHouse.com for more resources and lets stay connected daily on Facebook!
I’m sure my former English teacher would love to take a red pen to this commentary, but hopefully she would appreciate that I eventually came around to understanding the merits of research papers!