I wrote this some time ago for staff in a high needs school where everyone was often left feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and as though they were merely a tear drop in the ocean.
We are not miracle workers. We are often dealing with children going through or having gone through some truly terrible, horrific things from abandonment to abuse while simultaneously coping with the disadvantages of poverty and poor modeling.
We cannot expect to repair the damage in a few months or even a year. Every improvement no matter how small, every good day is a success for them and for us. They will never be “fixed”, they may struggle throughout life and we can only hope to and ask of our ourselves to make a difference for them in this moment; to guide them on a better path with the possibility of a functional, content future.
You cannot learn when your basic human needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy) have not been met. We are, in this case, here to teach many things beyond education. We are teaching what the truth of humanity is; that there is a better way and a brighter future and that there is love, kindness and respect in the world.
To show them love where they have none.
To teach them how to use their voice over hands. That it is their strongest ally.
To identify and accept their feelings then how to cope with them.
To see their value in the world.
To know that there is hope and that they can be successful.
To help them feel pride and confidence over every successful day and moment.
To teach them that they matter.
Trauma kids live in the moment and we can only ask ourselves to live in the moment with them and not expect more than they can give or ask more of ourselves than we are doing. We must meet them where they are. We must support them in that place in whatever works for them and for us.
It takes time, love and patience to heal. We can't rush it or feel discouraged during those difficult days. We can only persevere and take pride in the work that we do day in and day out. Success just looks different for them.
We are making a difference!
“I am a teacher. It's how I define myself. A good teacher isn't someone who gives the answers out to their kids but is understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other people succeed”. Justin Trudeau