I was sitting in church a few weeks ago, when a little girl of whom I am very fond sat in the pew next to me. We were in between services so after giving her a huge hug, I asked her how things were going in her new school.
“Not good,” she hung her head.
“But you love school!” I tipped her head back so that I could see her face. “What’s going on?”
She lowered her eyes. “I just got my first progress report back. I’m failing math.”
“Oh honey, what happened?” I asked, shocked. She was always such a good student.
She looked up and shook her head. “They teach math differently at this new school. They use something called ‘base ten’ and I don’t get it. I asked my friend to help me and she tried but I just don’t understand it.”
“Did you ask your teacher for help?” I asked as I watched tears pool in her eyes.
She shook her head.
“She knows I’m failing,” she sighed. “If she knows I’m failing and she never offers me any help, what good would it do for me to ask for it?”
My heart broke and I have to wonder, how many students right now are failing in silence? How many feel invisible? How many feel that they can’t come to us for help?
And then I got angry. For too long I’ve heard teachers say that if a student is struggling, it’s up to them to ask for help.
Well let me clear that up once and for all.
It’s our job to pay attention to our students. It’s our job to seek them out. It’s our job to make our classrooms a safe place where no child feels invisible.
Some students don’t know how to ask for help. Others don’t know they need help. And unfortunately, some know they need help but don’t think they can get it from us.
I encourage you to open your eyes this week and pay attention to the children (or the adults) who need you. There is no reason that students or colleagues should be failing in silence around us. Seek them out and offer help, even if they never ask.