It has been a cold and snowy winter so far here in Utah. The older I get, the more I dislike cold weather. The other day when it was 7 degrees overnight, I went out the next morning to break a hole in the ice of our pond. We keep a pump going, but I like to make sure there is an oxygen outlet for the fish and turtles deep in the water. It always amazes me how they survive the cold winter, but they seem to adjust fine as long as there is oxygen.
I have had the opportunity to work with at-risk children routinely throughout the years and I have always viewed school much like that oxygen outlet. For some children, school can be a safe environment in an unsafe and unstable world. The classroom can provide support for a child who does not always feel supported in life. School can also provide challenges and opportunities to think that may not be encouraged outside the classroom. When a teacher creates an inviting and supportive classroom, it can be a haven for a child until the harsh winter begins to subside. Good teachers make sure there is a hole in the pond when it is 7 degrees by:
-Maintaining a strong positive relationship with the child
-Providing comfortable and effective routines that help the child feel secure
-Routinely reinforce social and emotional skills that help children grow friendships and feel part of the group
-Giving extra support to children who seem to struggle with compliance and obedience.
I wish that every child felt love, acceptance and support in every aspect of his/her life. Unfortunately, that is not the norm for many children. Until that time, we all must continue to break a hole in the ice for the children who surround us. Especially when the outside world is lurking with icy fingers and a temperature of 7 degrees.