7 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days ago we started 7th grade together. 7 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days is how long it took for two of my girls to work up their nerve to make a racial comment to me in the classroom. It makes my heart sink to even write that down. Two of my girls, not just any two, but ones who will pull me out of class to talk, ones who laugh with me, who have cried with me, have shared their joys and frustrations with me. If my relationships with my kids were objective maybe then it wouldn’t make me so sad, but they’re not, they’re personal.
“Why don’t you teach over there in midtown with your people”, she said.
My people. Who are my people? In my own terms I refer to “my people” as those I spend the most time with, the ones I care about, and the ones who know me best. If this is the definition I choose to go by, then aren’t my people right here in this room? These 33 kids are who see me most every day, they experience every emotion I have, they know my heart, they share theirs with me. Where have I failed them?
It is important to me that they experience love. Be it through hugs, discipline, instruction, a listening ear, patient advice, encouragement, or active involvement. Love is what defines who “my people” are.
They’re 12, right? Words fall out of their mouth like vomit. No filter, no sense, just jumble and yuck. Maybe that is what was the driving factor of the comments made, or maybe I’m not showing love and teaching inclusivity as well as I thought. 59 days we have left together. 59 days to reestablish rapport, give grace, show love, encourage opportunities to see through guarded hearts, and teach the value of a gentle word.