Another part of my idealism is that I feel that I should be able to meet every single need of every single student that passes through my classroom each year. Most years I do okay. I have to say I'm pretty good at picking up on what each kid needs from me. But sometimes a student needs more than I am able to give them. This is honestly the worst part of my job.
Sometimes you have that student who just has it hard. Whatever the situation may be. You feel for them and you want to make all of the bad stuff go away, but you can't. You want to bring them home and give them a safe place to live, people to love, and stability, but you can't. You want to scream and rage at the people who are responsible for the trauma in that child's life, but you just can't. You feel helpless because you want to make it all better, but you just can't.
So what can you do? You can make your classroom into a safe haven. You can teach the child so that he/she has the tools necessary to break the cycle. You can show that child that not every grown up is bad, not every grown up will leave, not every grown up will hurt them. You can advocate for that child. You can teach that child about trust. You can be available for that child. You can show interest in that child. You can speak to that child intelligently. You can pray for that child every single day and every single night.
You can show that child love.
As teachers, we want our students to meet the common core state standards for our grade level. But it isn't always all about that. I find that more often than not, it's not just about that. I am not teaching standards, I am teaching children. I am teaching them all that I can in order for them to have enough knowledge to grow up and make the world a better place. If a student comes through my door who doesn't know love because he/she has a home life that is toxic, then my primary goal is to make them feel safe and wanted. Until they have that, they won't be able to learn anything academic.
At the end of the year I watch as my little Kindergarteners become first graders. I will continue to watch them grow as the years progress and I will stay involved with them, but for that child who needs a little extra, I will make sure to follow up often. I want him/her to know that I didn't go anywhere, that I'm still right there for him/her, and that I still love him/her.
If I can do that for even one child, then it was worth it.