Don’t Assume

Jen Robinson Current Affairs, Education, Life in the Classroom, Social Issues

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I’ll be honest. I struggle with long breaks away from school because I wonder if our scholars have what they need to be safe. Are they getting enough food? Are they supervised? Are they getting enough rest? Are they engaging in conversations and human interactions? Are they hiding behind a tablet or under their bed? Do they know we care about them and they weigh on our minds each and every day? Do they know when we are spending time with our families, we think about them and wonder what they are doing, if they are okay?

Over winter break I came across this article in PBS News Hour that helped put my thoughts into perspective: Don’t assume that every student had a fun or warm holiday break. It hit me particularly hard thinking about our scholars and knowing some of them are going through this scenario. It scares me when our scholars don’t return after break and we don’t hear anything. When we reach out, numbers are disconnected, the house sits empty. We ask other scholars and they may or may not have any information. Often times, they simply let us know, “Oh they moved. They don’t live there anymore.” “No they weren’t on the bus, no one was at the house.” The not knowing is what hurts and keeps me up at night.

Recently we found out about another family we have worked with ever since I can remember. They are going through a different kind of loss. The family is going through a separation and the kids are being split up. The boys are moving with dad and the girls with mom. The scholar we are most familiar with will be changing schools. We have known her for the several years. I hope she gets what she needs. I have to trust her new school will embrace her and give her the support she needs to be successful. I hesitate to let her go, but I know we have no control over what is happening in her personal life. She currently has the support of many teachers and staff members, will that continue? Will a change be exactly what she needs to shine and show her full potential or will she fall behind and withdraw, become angry and lash out? Ugh, I wish we had a crystal ball to see and know that everything will work out and be okay.

What are you noticing in your scholars at your school this week?


Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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Comments 5

  1. Leah Clark

    I struggle with this too. I hate to admit it, but I spend much time over the break worrying about my kids. It’s difficult we spend so much time with them and then suddenly they are gone for two weeks. It’s awful when they don’t come back and we are left wondering where they went. I feel your pain. I just hope that wherever they end up, we care about them as much as we do.

  2. Sandy Merz

    There’s a lot here relevant to me right now. I have a couple of students, one in particular, that I really don’t like. But I get that his unpleasantness is coping rather than rebellion and since the holidays, particularly this last week, he’s been pretty rough to work with. In his class we’re working through the 7 habits of highly effective teens, and I’ve been trying to use them as well. One of the tools is coordinating our effort with our circle of control and circle of no control. I know I can’t control him or what happens outside of class, but I can control my behavior and words when we interact. Yesterday, I didn’t do so well, speaking to him sarcastically and ultimately sending him to speak to a counselor. I knew in the moment I had lost my grip, and now have to decide the most likely path to rebuild our tenuous relationship, knowing that if that’s going to happen it depends on me.

    1. Jen Robinson

      Hi Sandy-
      Thanks for sharing. I think as educators we need to become aware of our emotions and how we respond. We all have interactions that are not productive but it is reflecting and rebuilding those relationships that will have the impact.

  3. Jess Ledbetter

    I really enjoyed this perspective. We carry such a heavy emotional load as teachers. A few years ago, I worked in an area that had significant economic challenges. I found myself worrying a lot about a couple kids every year. Now, I work in an area that is not economically challenged (more middle class) and I have noticed a significant decrease in my emotional load. I never realized how much extra weight there could be based on where we work. I loved the kids I served in the less affluent area, and I feel that the work in those communities is so important. But I am so grateful to see how my students are well-provided for in my current community. It gives me so much peace! I wish that all kids had that–and that teachers didn’t have cause to worry.

  4. Beth Maloney

    Jen, I know these feelings so well myself. It is so hard to bond with students and then send them to situations that may not be the best for them. I hate losing touch with a student or family, too. Thank you for expressing the anxiety and the feelings of loss so well.

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