Yesterday, a third grader came up to me at school and said, "are you the feelings doctor?" After chuckling, I said, "I guess so". Oh, Ok, she responded, "I heard about you. I have a friendship problem I might need you to fix."
I can't fix feelings, friendships, or much else for that matter. What I can do is create a safe place for kids to express their feelings. They love to tell me stories about themselves and their friends. Sometimes they cry.
When I introduce myself as the feelings teacher (or doctor) they get it. With me, whether in groups or individually, they talk about their life and feelings.
I am not the only feelings teacher. We have many wonderful specialists in almost every school in our school district. In the elementary schools, we are the only regular, specified resource for kids to discuss these issues. Our elementary schools don't have "counselors". Most of us are only at our schools once a week for 6 hours. Those hours are jam packed with kids-- in groups, individually, and in classrooms.
If we are lucky, our PTO's give us extra funds to come twice a week. I see about 40 kids a week in roughly 8 hours.
Our school district provides very limited funding for each school. Our kids needs are great and varied.
I wish there was a way to "fix" more things-- raise more money from our affluent neighbors, provide more services, spend more time with each child.
For now, all we can do is be there and offer as much support as we can. At least word is spreading amongst the kids that someone is there.
The Feelings Doctor