Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sharing About Summer {A Back to School Must Read}

I remember back to school shopping as a kid.  An entire day out with my mom and my sister, knowing we'd be going tout to lunch, trying on outfits, new shoes, a new backpack and a pencil box full of supplies.

I would organize and re-organize that pencil box each night in the days leading up to the first day of school, making sure that the crayons, scissors, glue, and pencils fit just right.  Putting it into my backpack with the folders, notebooks, and ruler... getting everything perfect so I'd be ready for school.

This is a fond memory for me, what can I say, I enjoy organizing stuff!  But, sometimes I will see something so small and realize how fortunate I am for the things I have in my life.

Once, for example, years ago when I taught third grade, we were talking about our hopes and dreams for our futures.  Lots of my students wrote about career goals or experiences they wanted to have.

One of my little girls wrote that her dream was to eat at Red Lobster.  She had never been there, you see, and to her, this was the height of fine dining and the biggest thing atop her 9-year-old bucket list.

I can go to Red Lobster on any random Tuesday, but this little girl, she had only ever left our little rural community a handful of times in her life so to go to the "big city" 30 minutes away and to even think about eating at Red Lobster, well, that was a big deal.

It's things like this that make me go, "Wow."  I had a good childhood.  Two parents who loved me, a sister to play with, dogs, trips, family memories.  And I'm so thankful for those good times! 

But, this leads me to summer vacation.

We're all getting ready to go back to school.

The bulletin boards are hung.  The name tags are ready.  Books are organized, copies are made, and soon, kids will be heading back to school!

Some of them haven't gone on trips, made memories with their parents, or even known where their dinner was going to come from that night.  Some have had to entertain themselves all day, walk to school where, thankfully, there's a free breakfast and lunch program running each day.  Some are coming in with clothing from last year because they didn't get to do that big "back to school shopping trip" that I always so looked forward to as a kid.

They didn't get new supplies.  They didn't get new shoes.  They don't have a backpack.

And, on the first day, when it's time to do that project where everyone writes and shares about their summer... they don't have those stories to tell about the family trip to the beach, the bonfire on the 4th of July, going shopping... even eating at Red Lobster.

When thinking about inclusivity in our classrooms, making everyone feel valued and loved... how can we re-frame that traditional "tell about your summer" so that those kids who don't have stories to tell can still feel valued and included?

This is just my two cents, but I hope that it will give our teaching community something to think about as it's almost time for that bell to ring!

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