Sharing literature which illustrates the power of standing up and helping others is essential. Picture books, like Super Manny Stands Up! by Kelly DiPucchio and Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, are must-reads in the classroom because they convey important messages about kindness and compassion that we want our students to take to heart. The conversations we engage students in about ideas related to this literature are important, but Sara offers us ways to deepen the learning about these concepts. Working with students on understanding the idea of having an obligation to others and helping them to recognize who they feel obligated to, seems to dig deeper into the mindsets that result in our decision to help or not help. Our identities and perspectives tie into the choices we make. Exploring our identities and perspectives in relation to our decisions to be kind and empathetic seems a helpful way to support students in developing strong, positive relationships with others.
When 9/11 occurred, I was just beginning my career as a teacher. I remember the challenge of addressing students' concerns about this event. There have been many crises in our world since and managing the questions and conversations that students want to have is still a challenge. There is a need to help students process what is happening around them, but also ensure that they are safe. Sara offers great suggestions in the last chapter of the book for responding to the events of our world. Listening, taking the stance of learner alongside students, and sharing the stories of good in the world will help both teachers and students process what the world hands us.
As Sara states on the last page of her book, there is no magic formula for changing the world, but every effort we make to support students in navigating the world with understanding, kindness, and compassion is a step in the right direction.