22 November 2016

How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in their world?

How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in their world?

I believe that there are similarities to teaching regardless of where you live in the world.  
On the other hand, I believe that there are differences unique to each country.  
Having just moved over 13 000 km to settle in a different country I have gained first-hand 
what this means. 

For the last number of years, I have been teaching at a privileged school in an affluent 
neighbourhood in South Africa.  This has changed radically and I am now teaching in an underprivileged community school.

Watching the world news over the weekend, I realised that we are living in a time 
were we can expect to see many changes, fundamentally in things that we have 
always taken for granted.  The inevitability of change and the outcome is worrying 
for many parents and teachers.
My school has a diverse and multicultural community which includes students 
speaking twenty-eight different first languages.  Many of whom struggle with the 
language in which they are being taught in.  The school embraces these students 
and I believe creates a unique space for them. 

Each class has a tutor (teacher) of 28 children who is responsible for the nurturing 
of the children.  The tutor sees the class every morning and this is a time for the 
tutor to get to know the children, help with non-academic and school things, like 
how the students are doing emotionally, concerns that they have, etc.  This is a 
safe environment for them to come and speak to the teachers.  I have personally 
found this rewarding for myself, but also emotionally draining, especially when 
there is a language barrier.  I have not realized how effective google translate can be. 

One of the things that I really enjoy is for my students to create videos about things 
that are affecting them.  When I do these types of projects, there is no topic, but a 
carte blanche for them to look at real world issues that are important to them. 
I was privileged enough to create a project, Project courage, with teachers from 
Canada, China, Croatia and Singapore about fear.  Once we completed the project, 
we did Skype sessions between the different countries and shared our fears.  
Regardless of race, gender, children have the same fears throughout the world.

There will always be change in the world, I believe it is up to us as teachers to 
create that environment where we can talk to our students about their concerns 
and walk with them through the process until it is resolved.

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