Let’s face it, kids are hardcore honest. Once I had a fourth grader let me know about my wild and crazy nose hairs! True story! During a parent conference!

But sometimes kids bare their souls and we aren’t listening, we aren’t seeing. We may see hours later what we missed or we may never know, but there is no professional development better, or more true, than what these tiny or smaller humans are teaching us.

Today was such a day for me. I like the social studies curriculum we use very much, it offers online resources, and I like that it’s more current than the textbooks I grew up reading. Today we started reading and learning about the government, who is in charge…and then this picture came up.

Years ago, this picture wouldn’t stick out to me in any way, but today, it made me super aware that not every child in my class would see this picture as I see it.

In fact, two of my students, both boys, and non-white, spoke up and said this picture made them feel sad. One little boy said it made him feel afraid. I asked if he wanted to explain why he had fear, and he bravely said it was because he was afraid they’d come and take away his daddy….

This is first grade. This is not a hardened, cynical youth or adult, this was from the innocent of innocents.

We listened to him. Then, we sang about empathy because even if they didn’t understand the connection just yet, it was my job to plant the seed.

Because I was listening.

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