My grandpa passed away yesterday.
I’ve been fortunate to not have too many family members die — I have a large extended family, but can count the deaths on one hand. Which means my grief is unrefined. I don’t have a road map for this.
So I ask your pardon in this post, as it comes from that place of grief.
I was thinking today about the man my grandpa was, from many different perspectives.
From one perspective, he was a devout Catholic worthy of admiration.
From another, he was a loving parent worthy of respect.
From yet another, a WWII veteran worthy of honor.
A wood worker worthy of study.
A man who loved fishing with his young grandkids.
An American autoworker.
A 2nd generation immigrant.
A lover of homemade Polish food.
Someone who helped seniors with their taxes (even when they were 15 years younger than he was!).
A man who crocheted afghans for each of his 18 grandchildren. I still use mine often, and remember fondly when he taught me to crochet.
I knew all this about him, and more. And yet, there are things I only recently learned. Stories from the war. His life as a new father.
There are, no doubt, innumerable things about my grandpa that I will never get to know. I loved him for who he was, the man I knew, but he was also more than what I knew.
Which brings me to the classroom.
We see our students for a limited time, from a limited angle. And from that angle, we find ways to work with them. To help them become better learners, friends, and people.
We may also find that, from that angle, we agree or disagree with them. They may be our favorites or they may be the reason we take a mental health day. They might fill our buckets or empty them.
What a disservice.
What a disservice to the people our students are, and the people they can be. Our students, no matter how much we know them, how much we learn about them, how much we love them…they are more than we will ever know. And they always, always, deserve to be treated as better than we can imagine.
My grandpa was likely a better man than I knew. Than I will ever know. So are our students. Let’s treat them like they’re better than we can possibly imagine while we still have the opportunity. Don’t they deserve someone who will treat them that way? Why shouldn’t it be us?