So at school, I merrily send home reams of
Shame on me!
Last night, the opportunity to reflect on my teaching practise (as well as my grasp of individual students' home situations) was thrust upon me as I sat with a mother of five boys to help with some school-related matters. My girlfriend and I had gone to the twins/triplets’ place to help put the kids to bed, while a fellow volunteer sat with mom to help her fill out a long (10 pages!!) special ed. survey about her child, sent home by the school.
After reading Jan Brett’s “The Mitten” to all five boys, I sent the triplets to their bedroom (3 single beds crammed side by side into a small room without a working light) to get a massage and short, personalised story from my girlfriend, while I stayed with the twins and read “Martin’s Big Words” and “Stanley’s Little Sister”. Once all five kids had been wrestled into bed, watered, repeatedly tucked in and finally threatened (two of them kept getting out of bed and coming downstairs into the living room, where mom and volunteer were trying to complete the never-ending parent survey about Twin B’s behaviour and cognitive abilities), we, too, joined the adults in the living room.
While Mom and helper continued to complete the survey, I perused report cards and agendas. One of the older boys’ agendas had several unanswered notes in it, most of which I found quite harsh in tone.
Although my immediate response was defensive, I was also forced to consider my own practice as a teacher. I know how easily I lose my patience with students who do not submit homework, or who do not seem to be catching on, no matter how much extra help they get. And I often use student agendas to chase down unsigned newsletters and curriculum updates, or to communicate when major assignments are late or missing. Was the tone of my short notes, scrawled in selected students’ agendas at the end of a long day also curt and offensive?
I tried to have empathy for this teacher I had never met, who seemed to be attacking one of these poor, sweet, innocent little friends whom I have know since they were cute little 4-year-olds with newborn baby triplet brothers (they are now 6, the triplets, and the twins are 10 and in grade five!!!)
This week at school I will have to remember that each of these kids who leave their lunch bags on their desk after recess, and who leave their outdoor shoes strewn across the hallway and classroom, who lose their pencil again, and who “forget” where their readers’ notebook is, each of these little terrors is somebody’s BABY!
As I often tell my student teachers and colleagues when presenting at conferences and workshops, “parents are sending us the best they’ve got – they’re not keeping the ‘good’ ones at home!” I’ve said this so many times, it is automatic and hollow now.
But last night I had the opportunity to reflect on what this really means, and I vow to try and do a better job looking after these precious babies whom parents send to me each day.
God grant me strength!!! :-D