Your Santa is out there
When I worked as a teacher in a Title I school, I found myself not only worrying about my student's academic growth, but also with their, for lack of a better term, spiritual growth. Many of my kiddos came from really hard backgrounds and didn't have much in the world and I could see it starting to harden them, at age 7. When I talk about being concerned about their spiritual growth, I'm not referring to religion, I'm referring to their humanity. By 2nd grade, many of them had gone through traumatic experiences most adults can't even talk about. So I made every effort I could to make sure they knew people could be kind and generous and along the way, I was reminded of how much goodness there really is out there.
The bags in the picture above contained various gifts to each student in my classroom. I would always take cash donations and head right down to our Scholastic Warehouse Sale where I could get the best values on new, quality books that I knew my students would love to read! Also included was a small stuffed animal, a toy, school supplies and various toiletries (Spiderman toothbrushes and lip balm in the shape of a candy). Also included were gloves, a cap and a scarf.
I'll never forget the looks on my kiddo's faces when I presented them the bag. As they screeched with delight, many said that they would open it as soon as they got home and one little one told me this was their only gift this year, so she was going to treasure it and not open it until Christmas Day.
I've since left that school, but I think about those students all the time. Some days were so hard - they struggled so much with behavior at times that it seemed learning may never occur. But after we'd spent some time together and the students knew I genuinely cared about them, they trusted me and let me in and we became a classroom family. And of course, around the holidays - you want to see your family happy.
I encourage any teacher out there in a similar situation to look on Google maps, see what businesses are nearby and write a letter to them asking if they would like to adopt your room for the holidays. One year, the response was so incredible we were able to give gifts to the entire 2nd grade! People are generous, but we have to ask. They don't know how to help unless we teach them - after all, it's what we do...
Classroom Teacher Doctor of Education
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