I teach in a mostly affluent school. The families are fairly well off and aren’t struggling to provide the basic necessities of life. I teach second grade so these kiddos really haven’t seen or experienced the real world. They don’t know what things are like.
Today I was a little upset. These kiddos had destroyed a few math games and left the ipad station a mess. Headphones were laying everywhere and iPads were stacked on top of each other. These kids are so used to having these things that they don’t appreciate them. They know that if something gets broken, someone will replace it. They don’t quite understand how incredibly lucky they are to have these things available to them.
So today, we ditched the planned lesson. We sat in our circle and talked about how lucky we are. I told them how their are schools where the kids don’t have iPads to use. They don’t have lots of paper to copy whatever they want on. The kids have a fast finisher of a math fact coloring page or an extreme dot-to-dot. They love these! We talked about how some kids don’t get to have these things because they can’t waste their paper on something like that. Kids at other schools don’t have workbooks like they do. They need to copy all their problems they need to do in math on notebook paper and then solve them. They don’t get a nice workbook to use.
We then looked at our library that is full of books. There were books on the floor, someone had ripped a page off of one, and they weren’t clean and organized. We talked about school that don’t have books for them to use at all. Or they have very little books.
I shared how at some schools, the kids come and eat breakfast and lunch. Some of them give them a snack or dinner before they go home. If the schools didn’t do this, these kids would only eat lunch every day. On the weekends, the schools send home food for them in backpacks. If they didn’t do this, the kids wouldn’t eat again until Monday.
I asked the kids what they think a kid would went to a school like this would think if they walked into our classroom. We talked about their different ideas for a bit. They ranged from, “They would be shocked.” to “They would wonder why we didn’t take care of all these nice things.”
One child raised his hand and said, “Well these are all schools in a different country. No one in America would go to school like that.”
I can’t even begin to describe the shock on these kids faces when I told them that there are schools not to far from us who are like this. There are plenty of schools all over America that are just like this. Not everyone is as lucky as they are.
We then talked about how we need to start treating our things like we care about them and appreciate all that has been given to us. The kids seemed to really get it and were quick to clean up the area and make things look nice and neat again.
Sometimes, you have to toss the lesson plan and teach a life lesson instead.