It’s on us now — even more than before. It’s why we teach.
We teach to prepare our children and youth for society, for life.
We teach to get them ready to face the challenges of life of the next day, and the next week, and the next years.
We teach because we believe that education, knowledge, understanding, will make tomorrow better than today and will make their world, your world, our world, everyone’s world a better place.
What we can do — must do — to ensure this takes place is to reaffirm why we teach. We must reaffirm this with ourselves and with our colleagues.
We are at a place where division has been sown and it is disrupting the establishment of schools as safe, secure learning places for all. Our schools, as reflections of our societies, are being drawn in and tainted by the noise. Bigotry, fear and alienation — if allowed to foster in the learning environment will seep into our societal DNA and across our communities. It will dictate our societies if we allow it. Rhetoric has alienated many, scapegoated others, and remarginalized the already marginalized. The jingoistic talk — shouts, screams — have created environments which without much else can spiral easily out of control.
What to do? It’s on us. Teachers, educators, parents, and communities.
We must reaffirm why we teach.
That’s what educators do and we must reaffirm it.
Now is the time for educators to create the harmony, to ensure the peace, to prepare the next generation in environments that are safe, supportive, connected, and respectful of all.
Every school has an environment, a climate, a mood — it is either created by design or it is adopted by proxy. It is either developed purposefully or it is imposed. We must create environments — safe learning environments — where each child can grow, develop and learn.
At the most basic level, people form and create school climate through their interactions and actions — Peter DeWitt & Sean Slade
With every interaction in a school, we are either building community or destroying it — James Comer
The simplest step we can make? Understand that we teach children and youth. State that we teach children and youth. Shout that we teach children and youth. Content, facts, figures and formulas are some of what we teach, but it is not who we teach nor why we teach.
Our classrooms are — as Dr. Philip Rodkin an Associate Professor at University of Illinois who sadly passed away a few years ago previously stated — communities of thirty. They are communities of thirty where students are able and frequently required to learn not only cognitively, but also socially and emotionally. Students everyday learn and practice — in this mini community — how to interact with others. They learn how to disagree, dispute, debate. How to form a consensus, how to work with others, and how to make this community — this learning environment — a successful, productive and inclusive environment. They learn how to work together as a group, a team, a community.
It is on us to make these mini communities work and it is on us to embrace the challenge. It is on us to make our schools safe, supportive and inclusive. It’s on us to teach the whole child.
We teach hope. We teach understanding. We teach to make tomorrow better than today.
That’s why we teach and it’s on us now to make it so.
Sean Slade is Senior Director of Global Outreach. During his more than two decades in education, he’s written extensively on topics related to the whole child and health and well-being and has been at the forefront of promoting school climate, connectedness, resilience, and a youth development focus for school improvement.
This post originally appeared on Inservice.