“Where is home for you?”
I still cringe every time someone asks me that question. As a child who lived a nomadic life, constantly on the move, I have inadvertently been searching for an answer to that very same question all of my life.
I don’t have a childhood house, city or even country that I could refer to. I’m the product of 16 different houses, 9 different cities spanning 3 different countries and my quest for home continues.
Recently it dawned on me when trying to understand where the path of life will lead me to next, that the only constant, the only place I have ever felt safe, loved and most at home, was school. It’s always evoked in me a sense of stability and security. I wondered just how many other students feel the same way? Are we cultivating school environments that foster a sense of unconditional love and support for our children, especially those who may not have anywhere else to go?
As school was ending this past June and my students were excitedly talking about their summer activities ranging from camping, fishing, quadding to numerous vacations, one of them stood out to me. He just shrugged and said, “I really just want to grab a coke, a magazine and hangout on the playground.” His safe place was school too and it’s not accessible during the summer months, so the closest he was getting was the playground.
One of my goals this upcoming school year is to focus even more on ensuring that not only my students, but all of the students in my school feel welcomed, honoured, and loved. School can be a scary time of uncertainty and vulnerability for many students as they progress through the system, but as their guides, we have the ability to re-frame the lenses by which they view school. We need to continuously strive to encourage and nurture a sense of belonging and community.
I may not know were my road will lead me to next, but what I do know is that school will always hold a special place in my heart and that student who just wanted to hang out at school all summer… I identify with him. With just a few short weeks before school begins, here I am, writing this very post from my classroom, my safe place, my home.