Well, I told my gym teacher that my group wasn’t being fair. He said, “Oh well.” I told him I needed to go to the bathroom. I left to go cry. ~11 year old girl
One of my little 6th graders with a pip-squeaky voice related this story to me when I found her in the hallway. Today is only the third day of school. Only her second gym class. Only the first time she changed shoes and actually ran around in gym class. Already, she is struggling.
To be fair to my colleague in physical education, I have learned that group dynamics are tough for this little girl. She is on the autism spectrum, she is physically littler than most of her classmates, and she has this cute, high-pitched voice that says whatever comes to her mind. Working in teams is not her favorite. If she must work with others, she needs to make the decisions and be the leader.
It’s the third day.
Only the third day. Only the second time she has interacted with this teacher. Only her first time asking for his help.
Every child has the right to be seen, heard, and valued. When my little 6th grader told me she needed to cry in the bathroom, my heart twinged with pain. Her issue was not seen as important enough to investigate. She did not feel heard. Her perspective was not valued.
Creating and equitable classroom is not magic. It does not happen easily. It comes with lots of time, patience, reflection, dedication, questions, trust-building, relationship-forging. Equity begins with ensuring that our students know they are wanted, they are valued, they are needed in our classroom. If they are gone, the classroom is not the same without them.
When an issue arises, not matter how large or small, we as educators make the decision of how to help our young ones come to a resolution. “Oh well” is not a resolution. It does not satisfy the need to be heard and valued.
No kid should have to leave class to cry in the bathroom because of our words.