reflection, students

There Should Be No Invisible Children

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eyes H. Jackson Brown 5:22-23 PRINT

I didn’t know what I would read.  I didn’t know what they would say.  I only knew we needed to have this conversation.

They gathered on the carpet, waiting for the usual routine to start, but instead I started to read “The Invisible Boy.”   They grew silent and then were sucked in, they have become such focused listeners.  I closed the book.  Told them to grab their thoughtful logs and answer the questions posted.  Are there any invisible children in our class?

They wrote, took their time.  I read and my heart sank.  It was what I feared.  Even within our incredible community of learners there were children that felt invisible.  Children that felt they had few friends, few who cared.  Who felt that they were a part of school simply because they showed up but not a part of something bigger than that.

We gathered back on the carpet and I told them the story of how I moved so many times as a child I never felt I belonged anywhere.  That I often tried to reinvent myself when I was the new kid but inevitably ended up being me again.  The only person I really knew how to be.  I then told them that many of them had said there were no invisible children in our classroom but that was not true.  That several kids had been brave enough to share that they felt invisible.  That they felt they had no friends.  And it was our job to change that.

I didn’t share the names.  I didn’t tell them how to fix it, but I told them to really start to notice each other.  To not take each child for granted.  To not just live by the school rules but to be kinder, to be more caring, to take the time to reach out and start new conversations.  That this is not just about finding the new kid and making them feel welcome but reaching out to every child, even the one you think is just fine, the one who you think may have plenty of friends.  To really see who is in their class and make sure no one feels invisible.

I don’t know if it made a difference today.  I can only hope.  There should be no invisible children.  Not in our room.

12 thoughts on “There Should Be No Invisible Children”

  1. Just beautiful. What an eye opening experience for all your students. You’ve created that community of trust and those students shared their thoughts about feeling invisible. Love the conversations, especially not “fixing” the issues, but rather noticing each other more. Thank you for sharing. And yes, you DID make a difference today!

  2. I’m currently reading Margot MacKinnon’s The Exquisiteness of Being Human after attending her session on invisible children in the classroom. She’s dealt mostly with high school students but her strategies are adaptable to elementary and it’s a beautiful read.

    Great work reaching out to all your students.

  3. This is a pretty powerful post. Not only does it make me think of the children in our classrooms that feel invisible, but our own children, and teachers and human beings in general. We really need to make an effort to know that people matter. We can start by just listening. Thank you for your writing. 🙂

  4. I found this book at the library after reading your post and did this same activity with my 4th graders yesterday. It was incredibly powerful. The room was completely silent as my students wrote from their hearts, told their stories. It changed the whole tone of our day, gave certain students a voice and empowered others to incite change. Thank you for the inspiration, Pernille.

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