Like all compelling conversations, this one didn’t leave me. I’ve been turning it over in my head ever since, trying to discover what’s underneath that resistance, that hesitation to “teach the whole student.” I can imagine some pretty legitimate responses: There’s so much pressure to cover so much content; I would do more if I could. I see 170 kids a day and you want me to do what? I also imagine some pretty honest responses like that’s not my job or that’s what the counselors are for or I’m not qualified to do that work.
But underneath them all is a sense of separateness, a sense that if we pay really close attention to one facet of a student it will compensate for the parts we set aside for someone else. It reminded me of this note I wrote for my physical therapist this fall – a wonderful person who carefully helped me take a leg that would persistently go numb from hip to toe, to a strong limb I could rely on for regular catharsis. Here’s an excerpt that’s really more a plea to myself than to my amazing physical therapist:
Teachers may not be therapists, but if we fail to understand that learning isn’t a product of a well-positioned assessment or comprehensive rubric, we have failed to see that the invisible levers we’re pressing still compel the whole child.