I read the The plight of high school homelessness in the Washington Post earlier this week and the article has really stuck with me. I applaud the community leaders who are working to change the lives of high school students and their efforts to explain how a lack of a stable living situation can affect students in the classroom.
For me, this article is yet another reminder that the life of a student is complex and multifaceted. Students, even the youngest students, have lives outside of the classroom. Many students have worries, fears, and anxieties that affect their classroom learning. It is a reminder to me that all children are unique and that rules and procedures are not supposed to be rigid--There should be flexibility in the classroom to accommodate needs of individual students.
More than anything else, this article reminds me that creating a safe, comfortable environment is essential for student learning. I learned from working at the Wynn Center that as a teacher you cannot possible fix every problem that every student has. A teacher cannot singlehandedly fix homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, and crime, but they can create an environment for children that is an escape; an environment in which children want to come to school; and an environment in which children can feel comfortable enough to take risks.
As students grow older, this becomes even more important. As ECE teachers we have a responsibility to lay a foundation for students so that they value their education, want to come to school, and realize that learning is not compartmentalized into the school day--it is a lifelong practice.