The month of December is speeding by as it does and if you have been paying attention over the last four weeks we have been giving you elements of the CREAD “we gon’ be alright” educator as activist stay woke plan for demolishing white supremacy, patriarchy, and institutional racism in the pursuit for freedom and liberation for Diasporic people. Each component is like a brick or stone that we believe creates a foundation for us to move forward and function in the harsh realities and hostilities that continue to unfold here in America. Love, we would argue, is the cornerstone or base, because without it we cannot function or flourish individually or collectively.
Yet, does love have a place in education and in the work we do? Often we hear the phrase “love of learning” and we might even be lucky enough to say that we “love” what we do, but as the incomparable Tina Turner asked, “what’s love got to do with it?” How do we place love in the center of who we are and what we do as teachers? Do we radiate love in the very act of teaching? Do our students know that we love them? These questions may seem silly or perhaps make you feel a bit uncomfortable, but it’s a sign that this a check-in we must have with ourselves as educators and as a community.
The passion, and yes love, that we bring to our work has the power to transform lives. The racism and hatred in our world has become so palatable and emboldened to a point that is terrifying. As adults we may have some ways to cope or maybe not, but our students are most definitely impacted by this climate of hostility. How we show up as adults in their lives matters to their well-being and ability to function as learners.
So how do we make space with and for our students so that they can better navigate these trying times? We believe that a good place to start is to set the intention of love and act in the spirit of this intention. Remind your students of their own brilliance and beauty. Look for ways to explore these ideas in the content that you teach. Make time for shared discussions about how we define love, show compassion and honor ourselves. As an English teacher I always find that poetry is powerful in the way it allows us to grapple with the human condition. Here is an excerpt from a wonderful book for children called, Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield:
Certainly parents and caregivers establish the foundation for our children, but as educators we can and should aim to make school a continuation of that love and nurturing no matter what their age or grade. Make it a habit of affirming your students, who they are and where they come from. Children can sense what intention we bring forward every day. They can sense if we are being genuine, if we truly care about more than their test scores and if we believe in their potential. That is why we emphasized at the beginning of this school year the importance of relational trust. To continue to grow and develop your relationship with your students requires that you are fully present and responsive to the changes and challenges to that relationship.
This father and son duo here demonstrates beautifully how there is nothing like teaching our children in the spirit of love. When our children know that we are there to guide them, we have got their backs, that we will be there to support and hype them up and celebrate their growth and achievements then there is nothing they can’t do. So we urge you to continue to love, teach, guide and support our children so they can know they are worthy and capable no matter what.
Peace good people…
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