No Child Eats Alone
January is D7 Diversity Month‒No Child Eats Alone
Belonging vs. Fitting In
For so many of our students, they are working hard each day to fit in. We know from the research and quite frankly, from our own experiences, how much harder it is to fit in than if you just belonged. For me, I think about when I was a freshman in high school. I can remember how I really struggled to be calm since each day seemed to bring with it so many unknowns–will I remember my locker combination? Will I remember where all of my classes are? What will happen to me between class periods? What if I get trapped by upper-classmen (and what will they do to me?)? And let’s not even talk about going through puberty all the while! I don’t think I took a full breath until winter break. Eventually, I settled in and became part of the high school community, but those first few months were really tough.
Fitting in Increases Stress
That extra stress of trying to fit in can cause some interesting chemical responses in the brain. That kind of prolonged stress can even cause our nervous system to shift and adapt to the higher stress. This adaptation is helpful when we are stressed, but when we are not, this kind of change can cause us to have difficulty paying attention, staying calm, or not jumping to conclusions.
As we start this new year, we want everyone to be mindful that not everyone feels like they belong in our schools. How awful that must feel. Starting small can make a big difference if we all work together. At lunchtime, take a look around. Which students are not eating with others? What can we do to make sure every student is in positive relationships with their peers and the adults in the school? What about at recess time or unstructured time during the day? Are there students who are just alone? Reach out and say, “hi.” Introduce yourself and ask if you can hang out for a bit.
Our Learners are Diverse
Our schools are filled with very diverse learners and it seems we can get stuck on how we are all different. But think about how joyful it is to learn that someone else has similar interests as you? I know I get excited and want to share. I am confident that while we are all unique, there is an awful lot that is very similar about us all. Taking a few moments to learn a new name, share a common interest, and let another person know they belong right here in our school can make a tremendous difference in that person’s life. And the best part is, it makes a tremendous difference in our lives, too.
This January, let’s make sure everyone has someone to eat lunch with. Let’s make sure everyone feels welcome and that they belong. After all…
…We Are GP! We all belong!
Have an idea to share with your colleagues? Leave it in the comments below.
Upcoming Month Designations:
- February Black History Month
- March Women’s History Month
- April Deaf Heritage Month
- May Jewish Heritage Month & Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month