Sunday, April 21, 2013

One Day Without Shoes-- 2013 Edition

Potentially my favorite day of the year-- TOMS One Day Without Shoes. TOMS philosophy is simple; One for One. Every time someone buys  pair of shoes, another pair is donated to a child who needs it. There are millions of children worldwide who go without shoes everyday and who have a drastically lower quality of life because of it. By providing children with shoes, TOMS is opening doors for these children to attend school, receive an education, prevent sickness and disease, and overall change their lives.

Once a year, TOMS sponsors One Day Without Shoes where they challenge the world to go barefoot in order to raise awareness for the children are faced with this reality everyday. Awareness leads to change. And TOMS is hoping to change the lives of children one pair of shoes at a time.

I love being barefoot. I love TOMS shoes. I love One Day Without Shoes. I love sharing this love with my students. So for the second year in a row (you can read about One Day Without Shoes-- 2012 Edition here), I organized the event with my students. Which then spiraled into all of elementary school participating. Not complaining one little bit.

This year we chatted about the things that each student can do to change the lives of those around them. It can be difficult for students to see that although they are young, they still have a profound impact on people they come in contact with. As they did last year, the students blew me away at the honest and raw answers they were giving and observations they were making.

The highlight of their day was when they painted the bottoms of their feet to help create the One Day Without Shoes poster. Every student from Grade 1 to Grade 6, as well as all of the teachers and administrators, participated in the day long event and the painting.

As a teacher, it can sometimes be difficult to see how well your students are absorbing what is being taught to them. I frequently wonder if they are retaining information or if they are simply regurgitating the information that I am giving to them. Are they actually storing facts away for future use or are they only keeping them until the test?

Sometimes we are given the sign. The one that says "Yes, I am paying attention. What you are saying is registering with me and I can apply it in my life." Sometimes that sign is obvious right away, other times it doesn't become visible until later.

Grade One.
We had parent meetings on Thursday-- two days after participating in One Day Without Shoes. I had received a lot of feedback from the students about how they looooooved going barefoot, but I wasn't always confident that they understood the real reason why we were doing so. Other than the obvious fact that Miss Caitlin is just an awesome teacher and likes to do fun things. While talking with one parent though, I was able to see the effects that One Day Without Shoes had on her student. The student, Any, is in my Grade One class. Her mother was telling me that last weekend they were sorting through her closet, looking for clothes to donate and clothes to keep. Any kept saying "No, I wear that. I still love that. I still want that." Even though her mother knew those things to be untrue. Instead of engaging in an argument, she let Any keep the clothes. Any, very excitedly, came to school on Tuesday without her shoes on and proceeded to keep her shoes off the entire day. She participated in discussions, completed our activities, and had a great time. That night when she went home and said her prayers with her mother, she prayed for the children who didn't have shoes or people to take care of them when they got hurt. And after the prayer when her mom asked her again about donating her clothes, Any said "Yes. There are poor kids who need those clothes more than I do. I want to give them away."

Grade Two.
I can't speak for every child. I can't say that every child understood why they were allowed to go barefoot on April 16. But I can confidently say that we reached one child. And, as is the hope with One Day Without Shoes, that child is going to do something that changes the life of another. Thus beginning the ripple effect. 

CEE Elementary School.

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