Tag Archives: empathy

Meeting Our Goal…Again!

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It is amazing when you are able to work in a place where you can help to do good things for others while teaching empathy at the same time. For nine years I have been running a food drive at our school. We challenge every class to collect 100 items by the 100th Day of School. We have over 25 classes in our school, so if each class reaches the goal, we are able to donate close to 3000 items to local food pantries. Once again, our amazing school community did it! Thanks to them and our many volunteers, children, teachers and parents, we loaded over 200 bags into 8 cars and delivered it all to two local food pantries.

I love when students come to me and tell me it is one of the things they look forward to every year. No matter their age, from the Kindergarteners to the fifth graders, I love to see their enthusiasm when they see the bags of food piling up outside of my classroom. They can see the impact of how much good can be done when everyone pitches in.They are learning such an important lesson and so many people will benefit because of it.

 

 

Erasing

empathy

Today, Dave went to the park with sandpaper and sanded out the graffiti that was on my mom’s bench.  That post that I wrote on Friday, wound up getting so many comments and responses to it!  Most agreeing with me, that there is no reason for it.  Friends told me how it made them sad or angry.  Others agreed that it was just a thoughtless act. Some tried to justify graffiti – not it if was done in a destructive manner, but when done as art, calling it interesting and beautiful.  I can see their point of view IF it is done in the right element.

Unfortunately, these two things were destructive and pointless.  The bench was not hard to fix.  I am grateful to Dave for doing it.  That area of the bench is back to its original color.  In a few months, after it begins to weather again, no one will ever even notice that there was something there.  If only it were that easy to clean up the graffiti at my school.  That will take a lot more work I am sure.

I think what has crossed my mind most seeing this, is just wondering if the people who do this have any idea that they are inflicting sorrow on others.  If they really thought about it, would they feel empathy because what might seem meaningless to them, really has an impact on others.

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Quality Time

talking to kids

This summer we decided against putting the kids in any camps. Drew was going to be extremely busy with summer baseball and being a bat boy for the Newark Bears. With me working part time and Dave back to work….learning on the job, we needed DJ around to help to take care of Drew. We are jokingly calling it, “Camp DJ.” I usually leave them a note in the morning, (since they are both still asleep when we head out to work), giving them a schedule of things they can do. Fortunately most things are within walking distance so DJ takes Drew to the movies once a week and to the library. Tomorrow they will walk to the train station, catch a train to Newark and while Drew gets to work as bat boy for an afternoon game, DJ can sit in the stands and watch.

At first I felt badly not giving them more to do, but I have found that the two of them are really enjoying their time together. Despite their nearly five year age difference they really get along quite well. Of course they still fight, argue and bicker often, but I have found that they are also forming a really nice bond this summer by spending so much time with each other.

I have also noticed that Drew seems to be growing up a lot this summer. I don’t know if it is the commitment to baseball, or the independence that we have given him, but he is beginning to show a lot more responsibility. He had really begun to fall apart last year. His second concussion was really hard on him and our family. We were at our wits end with how to deal with him and the mood swings. He was very withdrawn and would not talk to any of us. I really think that the time we spend in the car driving to and from baseball games, are opportunities where we are “forced” to spend time together, so it has given us the chance to reconnect. He talks about things with us now. He laughs more, he is getting back to the old Drew, but with a more mature perspective.

I have even noticed this at home. Drew was always my, “snuggly” kid. The one who would curl up on the couch or in bed just to watch television or read a book with me. He doesn’t need the tucking in or as many snuggles anymore, but he is back to letting me sit down next to him knowing that I am interested in him and what he has to say. I am enjoying this reconnecting time he is giving me. I try not to pry and ask too many questions of him because that seems to be when he shuts down. I think he is enjoying figuring out things for himself. I let him talk about what he wants to talk about. I let him take the lead, knowing that by doing so, he is becoming an independent person – he is shaping his own pre-teen identity. I will often get the one word answers when I question him about his day, “good,” fine,” “okay,” but by giving him the opportunity to talk about what is most important to him, it has opened up a lot more conversations between us.

He is passionate about so many things. He talks about baseball and is very interested in what is going on in our world. He wants to write a letter to the head of the recreation departments telling them about the importance of all kids getting a base-line concussion test BEFORE they start any sports. This has been a challenge for him but I am encouraging him to do it and I have told him that when he does, I will help him to spread the word on how important it is.

One thing that I am learning through our talks is how empathetic he is about equality. We live in a town that is so diverse, Drew knows of nothing else, so there is nothing “abnormal” about it. He goes to school with children of all races and family makeups. He doesn’t understand why people make such a big deal about it because it his “normal”. He talks about it with me often, questioning when he hears people speak negatively about it in anyway. I like the fact the he is “color-blind” and just considers everyone the same.

By having these deep conversations with Drew, it seems that we are developing communication skills that I hope he will continue to use when he hits the teenage years. By letting him initiate conversation and listen to our perspective as we give him the chance to share his, it is my hope that he will begin to see us in a different light as well. Maybe this is a step in the right direction with him. I know the teen years won’t be easy with Drew. DJ has always been our “easy kid” so although he gets moody at times, we have not had to face too many big issues…yet. Maybe this quality time they are spending with each other, and with us will be the stepping stones to a painless teenage experience….I guess I can always hope!!!!

Food Drive

helenkeller

About one in six people in the United States struggles with hunger, and issues related to hunger affect people in every community.

In celebration of The 100th Day of School, Tuscan Elementary School where I teach, holds an annual food drive where we challenge each class to collect 100 items of non-perishable food by the 100th day. Our school has about 25 classes ranging from grades K-5. I believe that it is very important to show our children that we are empathetic to the needs of others. It doesn’t take much really, just offering kind word, a handshake, or opening a door for another person.  The food drive seems to bring out the best in so many! The fifth graders were so engaged and willing to help and the students passing in the hallway outside of my classroom where the food was piling up could not help but to stop and stare wondering just how much was there!

The totals came in throughout the day and by the end of the day we had collected over 2600 items!!  We were able to split those items and deliver them to two local food pantries.  This also could not have been done without the amazing school community that we have.  Moms, dads and kids helped pack up cars and drive the food over to the pantries, and then unload them all when they got there!  There were hundreds of bags and this was a huge undertaking.  I am so proud to be a part of The Tuscan School Community, both as a teacher AND as a parent!

You can help fight hunger in your local community by holding a food drive in your neighborhood, office, place of worship or school. Helping your local food bank stock up can also help your community be better prepared for emergencies, as demand on food banks often grows during a disaster or crisis.  It is amazing what can happen when we all work together.