Do you love the children and young adults in your school buildings? The past few days I have been honored with the opportunity to work closely with other passionate educators at the ASCDL2L conference. During this conference I was given time to collaborate with others and reflect on the Whole Child approach to educating our youth. It was an experience I will never forget.
The Whole Child approach to educating our youth asks us to serve all of our learners’ needs. It is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to learn in an environment in which they do not feel safe. It is difficult, if not impossible, to learn when a person’s health needs are not met. It is our duty as educators to make sure that ALL of our learners’ needs are met. This may require us to bring in outside agencies to assist with mental health and addictions. This may also require a school with a high poverty rate to provide free and reduced lunch and breakfast to all learners. Whatever the learners’ needs are, we as educators need to work to find the resources they need to help them.
I also believe the Whole Child approach requires us to think about our “students” differently. You have probably already noticed that I have refrained from using the term “students” to describe the youth that we educate. If we are truly serving the whole child when educating, it is my opinion that we need to stop thinking of them as “students”. The term student describes a person who is a RECEIVER of knowledge. I believe what we truly want our youth to grow up and become are SEEKERS of knowledge. This kind of person can be best described as a “learner”. And, if we are truly educating “learners,” we will need to begin developing closer relationships with them in order to understand them. By better understanding them we can begin to use their passions and interests to support the learning process.
Think about the one teacher in your life that was your all-time favorite, that one teacher that inspired you to be better. Have you got that teacher? Do you feel as though this teacher understood you? Do you feel as though this teacher loved you? I believe that before you can help a child you must first understand them. Before you can truly understand them you have to love them. It has been proven to me on many occasions that if a learner believes without any doubt that they are loved by you, they will do anything for you and are somehow able to blast through almost any obstacle to find success. It has also been proven to me, on many occasions, that if an educator truly loves their learners they are willing to do whatever it takes to help them achieve success. All humans have a need to feel loved. Why are so many educators afraid to show their learners this compassion and care?
Let’s begin helping our youth by addressing the Whole Child so that we can address their needs, tap into their passions and interests, and guide them to becoming SEEKERS of knowledge. It’s time you Love Your Learner!