Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Can I Not Write About This?

If you're me, and are used to writing mildly to heavily sarcastic pieces which usually poke fun at one or more people, yet in the end are really focused on how to make children's educational lives better (and hopefully the lives of their teachers too), you might feel a little strange posting your usual shenanigans with everything that is going on in Haiti. Normally, I like to take what I think of as a pretty dire situation in schools, something that may make you want to pull your hair out at the end of a long day, and make it funny.

This is more dire than I can imagine.

People have to be talking about this in their classrooms, right? I know I had a few Haitian students from time to time, but even if you don't...if you're students are mildly conscious of the world around them and have caught even five minutes of news or one recent headline, they have to know about this. I think this is a moment where "sticking to the basics" is a bad idea. Although it is sad that it takes something so drastic and devastasting to get some to talk about the lives of those who are poor in suffering in Haiti, we need to take the time.

While I was in the classroom, I often held canned food drives and Super Colleagues around me organized Gently Used Book Drives for local homeless shelters, Gently Used Game drives for local children's hospitals, Fundraisers for various charitable oganizations...you name it. And what I learned from these efforts is that this type of community involvement, ESPECIALLY when it is tied to something current, is beyond motivating for children. My friends became obsessed with counting, charting, sorting, cataloguing and advertising our bounty. We graphed, weighed, measured, wrote about, read about and put our backs into delivering hunderds of canned goods to a local shelter. And you know what? They loved every second.

I'd like to think if I was in the classroom today, I would be talking about this devastating earthquake with my friends. And I would try, with their help, coordinate some sort of effort to help, however minimal it might feel at the time. The learning involved with such a project, from how to talk about the issues, to designing posters, to making a plan and putting it into action is invaluable...PLUS you know you're hleping in the ways that you can.

I know that sometimes doing the legwork blows and what with all the test taking, mini-lesson planning and small group making, time is tight. Here are some sites I found which may help. I would love to hear your stories - what you decide to do, how you did it or any other resources you found that you might want to share with the rest of us.

Here's a great link from CBS news with a list of links to other organizations.

Here is a short list of various charitable organizations I found via a quick Google search. I focused on how to help children when doing this search. (Just FYI.) (Sorry if some are redundant after the CBS list.):

Haiti Children.org
Unicef
Feed The Children

And last, but not least, I stumbled across this blog post via my obsession with the blog Dooce. It seemed like a helpful list of ways to help that start with something as easy as texting to make a small donation.

Tomorrow it won't be over, but tomorrow I'll try to bring funny back.

1 comment:

Theresa Milstein said...

Yesterday, I subbed in a school where the morning announcement reminded everyone to think about students and others who were affected by what happened in Haiti. That generated a discussion.

Today, I'm subbing fifth-grade, and a student brought it up during morning meeting. I suggested they talk w/ their teacher on Monday to see what they can do to help.

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