Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Don't Give Up On Kids

At Union Middle School, we try our best to give every student what they need to be successful.

Our teachers seek out students in need of a parent-teacher-student conference. Our mental health team challenges themselves to find students who may need supports that we're not yet providing. The administrative team repeatedly asks each other "what are we not doing for kids that we could try to do?" 

Essentially, we have built a school community where every individual is responsible for the growth and welfare of every student at our school. We don't have "those" kids or "not my problem" kids -- if you work at Union Middle, you have agreed to try your best to support all of our students, even the ones not necessarily asking for assistance.

This is not to say that we don't make mistakes. We do. We then try our best to fix the problem for the betterment of the student. 

This is not to say that we address every problem or student issue by the end of the day. We can't. Some problems we never find out about despite our best efforts. Some situations we don't find out if our suggested interventions have helped until the students visit us a few years down the road. Regardless, we are committed to try our best to support our kids and our UMS community.

This is not to say that we get it right the first time. No-one is perfect. It is to say that we don't give up on our students and will try to make the learning experience for every student a positive one. 

I realize it can be challenging for an educator to give a bit more when they feel pushed to their professional limit. This happens a lot in education, partly because educators are a noble lot and often over-extend themselves for their students. It doesn't mean that we won't try. 

Two of our new-to-UMS 6th grade teachers are starting a twice-a-week homework help club for 15-20 invite-only students in need of such supports. One of our 8th grade teachers, upon hearing about this 6th grade homework help club, has initiated a similar club but for 8-10 8th grade students in need of extra help. A simple check of #teamUMS on Twitter sees staff attending soccer games, preparing for wrestling practice, and inviting our school community into their classrooms.

Trying to best serve our students is the reason why we show up every single day. If an educator loses sight of their promise to put students first, they've officially lost their way and need to ask for help to rediscover how lucky they are to work with kids every single day. 

To paraphrase a parent from a recent IEP meeting after I asked how their students were adjusting to Union Middle...

"It's really weird for my kids at Union... I asked them, 'what's going on with those kids over there' and they said to me, 'mom, you don't have to worry; they're good kids. It's not like (our last school). Kids here are really good kids. It's not what we're used to... and it's sort of nice.'

No school staff is perfect... but I don't think you'll find a more caring, dedicated staff that our #teamUMS. 


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