As I sit and ponder what it means to be an educator, a strong vision comes to mind. I visualize a flock of geese following in a perfect V formation. There is a correlation between the perfect educational system, and the teamwork geese employ while they soar through the blue skies.
One bird flaps it wings and creates an updraft for the bird behind it. The geese generally place themselves strategically with the strongest bird in the front, and the weakest in the back. I surmise the reasoning behind this is so the stronger birds can lift the weakest with an updraft. As the stronger bird tires, the formation changes. The weaker birds who now have a reserve of energy take the place of the exhausted birds.
Like geese, people cannot fly alone either. Education encompasses a whole network of educators. In order to educate the whole child, one must think of the process as more than mere academics. Social, emotional, familial, and environmental issues are part of educating the child. Expecting a classroom teacher to perform all these duties alone is sure to breed chaos.
As geese form a perfect V formation, educators, administrators and the community have to work as a unit. The common goal shared, should be the successful assimilation of the children into society. If a bird tires, and another geese does not support their weak moment in flight, the formation will be broken. The weaker bird will tire and plummet. In terms of assisting a child in developing to their fullest capabilities, we do not get a second chance to repair the mistakes made. Due to a lack of camaraderie between all involved with that child, he is sure to plummet like the geese.
Society has become extremely fast paced. Teachers are struggling with the parameters of the No Child Left Behind Act, and equipping their students with the skills to pass MCAS. In order to achieve these goals, gym, art, and music classes, are being cut nation wide. Dual income, achievement oriented parents are worried about their child being ready for the competitive world that awaits them. Thus, teachers, parents, and children alike need a supportive flock as never before.
A wise man named Uri Bronfenbrenner developed the bio-ecological perspective including the Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystem, Macrosystem, and Chronosystem. Mr. Bronfenbrenner made a powerful statement. He stated that “each system depends on the contextual nature of the person’s life and offers an ever-growing diversity of options and sources of growth”. What one could extract from this is the importance of how one system nourishes all the others.
There is a great need for skilled personnel who can equip children, parents, and teachers, with the support they need within the systems. My position as a school age site coordinator is a prime example of someone who bridges that gap within the educational system. We are onsite at schools across the nation. Family, children, administrators, and teachers interact with me on a daily basis. If a teacher has issues with a child’s homework progress, I can supply them with insight as I interact with the parents daily.
A personal example would be a child who was not turning in homework, and the parents were not reading notices. I was able to explain that the parents were immigrants with a language barrier who both worked seven days a week to make ends meet. The teacher and I devised a system. A homework folder was made. A must read folder, and a done folder were developed to simplify the process for the parents. The outcome for this family was positive to the teacher and me working as a team. The parents and all involved were empowered due to everyone’s issues being taken into account.
Another memory is of a child that had no snacks during the day. This deeply affected his concentration and energy level. The cafeteria director made me privy to fact that the child was hungry. I proceeded to contact the teacher, and started leaving food from my classroom, in hers to feed the child. I have been able to intervene with behavior issues by making the teacher privy to impending divorces, illness in the family, or other issues that may affect the child in his primary classroom.
When issues arise within the school, they are used as the topic of our Friday groups.
Several weeks ago the teachers were disgruntled with the noise level of our group. As a lesson in social skills, the older children within the group told the younger children why they disliked the screaming and interruptions during homework time.
After the group dispersed, the younger children were asked to go to one table and prepare a poster as a team, on why being loud and interrupting was wrong. The older children did a separate poster on why they don’t like loud behavior. These posters hang side by side on the wall in my classroom. I also had a teacher come in and reprimand the students on how their behavior disturbed the teachers, and made them each present a personal letter of apology to the education staff.
We have done similar groups on bullying, honesty, and respect. In all these situations the lessons learned were carried into other aspects of their lives. The outcome is a socially adept and well rounded child. After acquiring these skills, it has been noted that the children were applying these skills in the classroom. The ultimate outcome was an increase in positive self efficacy, and a positive classroom climate.
My personal goal is to help communities become socially as well as academically well rounded. It would be a wonderful world, if every one was equipped with a sense of empowerment, positive self efficacy, and was equipped with all the skills for success. I wish to assure that children, families, and the community have every resource available placed with in their reach.
I realize my goal is slightly utopian in thought, and practice. However, one can always
dream. May we all fly in the V formation, help each other soar, and may “No Child Be Left Behind”.