Recently I begin to read for my 26 Book Challenge 2019 Dr. Bettina Love’s book; We Want to do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. In the book, Dr. Love, an associate professor at the University of Georgia and former classroom teacher, writes about the importance of “mattering.” She writes that it is not enough for teachers to teach and make it through the school day. What is important is that teachers and educators make school and their classroom a place where children, especially children of color, feel as though they matter. We must show our children they matter.
For children when they matter at school, they know everyone sees them and they are heard by everyone. When children matter, they see school not just as a place to learn, but they see school as a place where they can grow and develop for life after school. We must ensure that no matter what our children know they matter. They should never worry about where they stand. They see potential outside of what happens in school, but they see potential in society. When children matter, they see their life more than just something they must survive, but instead something they can thrive and reach a potential they never believed possible.
When I think about my career in education and my purpose, I think about the phrase Dr. Love’s so passionately writes about, “We must show our children they matter.” I ask myself one simple question often when thinking about my purpose, “What does it look like to show children they matter?” We show children they matter by:
- Pushing them to their limits
- Showing that we care more about what they can do a test
- Showing them a world beyond their reality
- Not allowing their current situation to determine their future
- Seeing more in them than they may see in themselves
- Not measuring their knowledge based on a scale that was not designed to see them succeed
- Giving them the tools, they need to be successful
- Making their life matter
We show our children they matter by creating a school space for them to matter. We show and represent them and those that look like them. We do more to show them they matter besides hanging motivational posters of people they can relate. We show them they matter by accepting them as they come despite their background, and we commit to know them more about them their test scores or the income of their family.
We show children they matter by being open and honest with them about who we are. We must show our children that we are shaped by the experience that we went through. We show our children they matter by confronting the biases that we may have. Those biases that we ignore will affect the relationship we seek to have.
We show our children they matter by be interested in them and what they like. In schools, we can get caught up with so many things and lose sight of what matters to our children which is a simple connection. The stronger those connections with our children the more confident they are. The more confident our children are the more growth they will show. We can show them they matter by not just knowing them but knowing their family and neighborhood.
As an educator, I encourage that we all show our children they matter. One of the biggest reasons why our children fail is because they do not feel that a school is a place where they are welcome or even where they belong. They don’t believe they belong. We must be culturally responsive.
Our children are born in a society where they are born with strikes against them. They deserve to know they matter. We must show them every day they do matter!