26 August 2016

Long Night. Opportunity for Empathy?

Yesterday we had our Back to School night, the not uncommon practice where schools invite the parents in to follow their students schedule (for us, 10 minutes per class). It started at 7 pm, so I decided to stay at school from 4–7 to try to get caught up on my beginning of the year to do list.

I got home about 9:15, and then had dinner with my wife and went to bed around 11 pm. How I am feeling today? Tired, lethargic, not totally motivated, and a little absent minded. I actually brought mate to school this morning to give myself a bit of a boost (I am not a caffeine in the morning person).

Realization: Perfect moment to empathize with my students, especially the older high school students.

Yesterday, I had to “do school” until 9 pm. The next day, I do not feel great. I actually feel both mentally and physically bad.

Simple empathy exercise: I asked them how late they usually “do school.” Almost all of my older high schools students said well past 9 pm (many of my students eat dinner at 9 pm, and then continue homework until they cannot any longer). How do my students feel then, coming back to school, after long days and nights “doing school,” 5 days a week?

And because they may be conditioned to it, does it make the reality any better?

Any more correct?

Our principal actually got on the intercom and mandated parents to leave at 9 pm in order for us, the teachers, to be able to get home and rest in order to be ready for the next day of teaching. I also had one parent nod off during my 4B Geography class, their last period of the day.

Should we be issuing similar mandates for those we are entrusted to help become healthy young adults? What does this say about our system where we think we might have to?

I know the debate surrounding homework is an age-old one. I know the real vs. the ideal paradox is ever-present (especially given some of the seeming intractable realities of the IBDP). But using experiences like last night as opportunities to again remind myself to try to put myself in the shoes of those I care about (the students) was a good experience for me.

I heard their echoes in myself.

Maybe you will too?

Cross-posted on Medium.com | https://medium.com/@joekoss/long-night-opportunity-for-empathy-a634bdbc6669#.dd3y51y5b


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