Have you ever seen a Give A Penny/Take A Penny container near a cash register in a store? The idea behind one is simple: Leave a penny or two that you receive back as change or take a penny or two that you need to cover what you owe. Give. Take. Just pennies, right? No big deal.
But let's zoom out and look at what is going on in the world around us right now. On a daily basis, I am shaken by national news I read on Twitter, by words people choose to use towards others, and by acts of violence occurring in my country and in other nations. Hate is being broadcast live, spewed from mouths, and used as a weapon to hurt and kill. So much is being taken and not much is being given. One has to look hard to find the good, to find the givers in the world instead of just the takers.
It is an incredible challenge to be an educator in times like these, to teach students objectively about both the givers and the takers and to help students determine where they stand regarding an issue, be it political, economic, or cultural. As I think ahead to my future 7th-graders and to the topics I know we'll discuss, I feel...nervous. I'm nervous that my students will have the same information that I do about a current event, that they will have the same questions that I do, and that they will need just as much help as I will with understanding the world and how its citizens are behaving.
There are some silver linings in the clouds, though. I am thankful to have a smart PLN (just a tweet away) to advise me. I am blessed to have supportive family and collegial friends. And I am hopeful that there will be deep learning in the struggle as my future students and I academically grapple with the givers and the takers together.
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