By Kaileigh Reed
As we gathered around the lunch table, I noticed something take place regularly. The teachers would notion Cameran to pour herself milk. She looked up with her blank stare and tears in her eyes, repeating, “I need my mom.” In some moments, tears were her only response.
As the children around Cameran observed her, they began to offer help. “Here, Cameran, you can have this cup” as a child placed a cup in front of her. In other instances, children said, “I can pour milk for you” as they filled her cup. One time, a child noticed Cameran feeling uneasy about sitting at a lunch bench. The child went to find a chair and gave it to Cameran.
As I saw the children become a community for Cameran, I reflected on the question we worked through at the beginning of the school year: What is our impact? When we tried to answer this question as a Seedling team, we wrote “building a community.”
Research has exhibited an essential component of community building is empathy. As a teacher, I often wonder how to create a culture of compassion. Am I modeling empathy enough? When I am, is it getting caught by the children? Is my compassion genuine? If not, it will be noted.
As these contemplations were circling in my head, I had a realization. I was thinking about how to provide rest and ease for Cameran, and the children were showing me all along. When I saw these acts of kindness, one after the other, it brought me to a pause. I wondered, “How often am I missing these moments of kindness the children so naturally share?” “How much are the children teaching me about empathy?”
My eyes are open now.