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Digital Learning

13 Reasons Why Teachers Need to Watch

In the weeks since the TV series "13 Reasons Why" has aired, many have added their online voices to the debate on whether this show should have ever been made, and whether kids, parents, or teachers should watch. Here's my list. Just adding my voice.

Teachers need to watch "Thirteen Reasons Why" because:

1. We need to be aware of what goes on outside our classroom doors.
     Many of your kids might be watching it, already have watched it, or have heard of it and are
     thinking of watching it.

2. We need to be aware of what goes on right under our noses.
    Kids (and often adults) can hurt each other in a thousand low-key ways that fly under our radar  
    every day. 

3. We need to watch for signals of stress and distress.
     Make yourself a kid watcher every day.Watch every child, not just the ones who are
    screaming loudly for attention, but those who may be hurting others or hurting inside themselves
     every day.

4. An early cry for help can be very hard to hear. very soft.
     Signals are often not easy to see or hear at first. Getting to know your students really well right
     from the beginning is your best way of improving your ability to pick up on cries for help.

5. A quiet student isn't always just a pleasure to have in class.
    Some bullies masquerade very successfully as that quiet and obedient successful student.

6. Kids don't look at each other the way you look at them.
    Many issues, often inside of the beholder, make kids view other kids much differently from the
    way we see them.

7. Souls are more important than data.
    This is just another plea to really study the whole child, not just their grades and test scores.

8. Looking away won't make anything stop.
    If you decide to ignore the issues and prefer to use rose-colored glasses as you view your
    classroom and your learning community, issues will still fester and possibly explode. Choosing to
    travel on the river of denial changes nothing.

9. Things that are revered in our learning institutions can be setting kids up to fail.
    Best athlete, most successful test taker, best writer, student council leaders, etc. Although the
    reverence for athletes disturbs me the most, any labels and pedestals can be debilitating to students
    with other, less-recognized gifts as they travel on their educational journey.

10. Our society creates rankings and situations that can be impossible to escape.
      I was reading The Hate U Give at the same time as I viewed the episodes of 13 Reasons and was
      struck by the meaning of THUG LIFE (Tupac Shakur) as it was described in the book. "The Hate
      U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody" Children who grow up experiencing hatred and lack of
      acceptance grow up to give it right back to everyone. This is next to impossible to change once
      the child has grown. As teachers, we have an amazing opportunity to change lives.

11. You can't just order a kid to "talk" to you when in a crisis situation. Channels of communication
      that a kid can trust must be in place long before the crisis raises its ugly head. Watching 13
      Reasons, my jaw dropped over and over at parents and school staff who suddenly wanted to talk
      and expected answers.

12. As teachers, we have the power to teach REAL life skills. (That life skills teacher in 13 Reasons.    
      Please.) Make your life skills lessons meaningful. Base them on what your students are
      experiencing. Don't just plod ahead with the lesson you planned so carefully. Look at your own
      students and their needs. Adapt and adjust.

13. Kids can start to feel valued, respected, and supported from their earliest school experiences on.
     They need to be able to take small and then increasingly bigger risks with their learning and with
     reaching out to friends as they progress through the stages of school.  "Hey, I'm here for you"
     means nothing if it hasn't been demonstrated all along.

From The Hate U Give:
Momma (after an encounter with a police stop): "See, baby, everything's fine."
"Her words used to have power. If she said it was fine, it was fine. But after you've held two people as they took their last breaths, words like that don't mean shit anymore." (p. 165)

Teachers, our words have power. Our actions have power. Please force yourselves to watch "13 Reasons Why", if you haven't watched already. Read The Hate U Give, if you haven't yet. Let the messages sink in as you plan for the upcoming school year. You will never know the many ways in you will personally touch the future. Make it count.

A gift for you to use in your classroom:

For more from the 3 E's Blogging Collaborative:

1 comment

  1. Thank you for these powerful thoughts. I found number eleven particularly compelling. If we aren't available from the beginning, it might be too late when our kids really need us.