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Monday, October 26, 2015

Who Finds Whom in K-12?

Who Finds Whom in K-12?

By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

A very perceptive veterinarian said to me recently, “Did you find the kitten, or did the kitten find you?”
Sitting atop the vet’s silver slab of a chest-high table wriggled a skinny, sneezing, calico kitten with worms and a respiratory infection, found the night before as we sat on our family’s back deck.
I heard a faint meow at dusk.  Then responded with a meow of my own.  Another response – from a small voice, possibly below the deck or near our backyard’s woods line, as my family gathered. 
After about a half hour of conversation (kitty and me) from a distance, a pensive, hungry-looking kitten approached cautiously, and eventually found its way to my lap.  After some petting, purring, people food, and some water, we offered it a soft corner in our second garage, and after a night’s sleep, my wife and I made a trip to the grocery store for some essentials. 

So, “Did we find the kitten, or did the kitten find us?”

Our finding the kitten might imply that we were the ones doing the rescuing.
The kitten finding us might imply the opposite.

In thinking through this, I reflected that we were almost two years into accepting the passing of our aging Weimaraner, Zachary, our “dog-son” that pre-dated the births of our two children. 
Had we been avoiding another attachment?
Were we now the busy family machine and, not-as-much, a family?
Did we need something to slow us down and re-focus?

If so, then the kitten might have found us.

As educators, when we see those malnourished (at times, snarly) little kittens [Eddie, Haley, or whomever comes to mind] in our schools and classrooms, coming to us with all of their figurative sneezes, worms, and hunger, do we take the time to notice?
Do we speak to them in their own language, first? 
Do we spend enough time so that they trust? 
Do we offer what we have, even if a leftover?
Do we shop for suitable supplies, even if busy?
Do we accommodate their needs? 
Do we seek-out additional treatment from someone more knowledgeable? 
If no one is willing to step-up and parent, do we adopt?

And in the midst of whatever we provide, large or small, do we pause and ask the question, “Did we find these little [kittens], or did they find us?” 
And for what reasons were they sent?


Dr. Ryan Donlan is wondering who finds whom in our schools and classrooms, and further, whether or not our intended K-12 caretakers receive more each day that we recognize.  Not all resources are finite, he would argue, and would love to discuss this further at 812-237-8624 or

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