Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For All the Great Teachers - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

My son’s teacher called this past week. The news was not too good. It appears that she has been having “quite a lot of difficulty” focusing my son and getting him to be attentive. In fact, his teacher had to fill out a questionnaire regarding my son’s behavior and academic performance and submit it to his ADD doctor. When we went to see his ADD doctor, the doctor informed us that my son’s teacher wrote “a scathing, hastily done, inconsistent” form. Based on the conversation I had with his teacher, I can just imagine what she wrote! From our conversation, it was quite apparent that she would love for our son to be placed in a different classroom! Yesterday!

The doctor was perplexed. Nothing in my son’s chart would indicate such a terrible report. And all reports from other professionals who have worked with my son indicate that, yes he does get antsy, and yes, he does need some refocusing. But the doctor feels that this sounds like a classic case of the wrong educator-student “fit.” We are in the process of getting reports from other professionals who deal with my son on a regular basis, such as his tutor and religious school teacher, to find out if my son’s grade school teacher’s report was an anomaly, or whether there truly is reason for concern. The professional consensus is that my son’s teacher either doesn’t want to bother refocusing him or redirecting him, or doesn’t have the proper skills to work with him. The school psychologist is going to spend quite a bit of time fleshing this out.

In the meantime, I would like to thank and honor ALL teachers, (yes, even my son’s), because it is truly a sacrifice to give of yourself to educate young minds. It is NOT an easy job. However there are those teachers who go just a bit above and beyond. Ones who take the time to reword a question for a child, or explain a topic in a slightly different way, to see that, “AaHa!” sparkle in a young one’s eyes! So below, is my own “Gratitude List” to all teachers who strive that extra little bit, and work a little harder, to see that each of their student’s succeeds.

I am grateful for teachers who recognize that certain children can have above average cognition, yet be stifled by faulty neurochemistry.

I am grateful for teachers who recognize that some children need to move around more than others. And these teachers nominate those restless kids to be the “go to” students. As an example, I have a friend who teaches Fifth Grade. One of her students needs breaks so that he can walk around periodically and stretch his legs. She refers to him as her “go to” student because if she needs something picked up from the Main Office, she will ask this young man to “go to” the office and pick up what is needed. Or she will ask him to help her distribute handouts to the class. She recognizes that he has a need to move and she respects that need with simple ways to incorporate his needs with her own.

I am grateful for all of the hard work Special Education teachers have to do. They need to have a whole basket full of skills to pull from to work with some of their students  successfully. Every child is unique and has their individual needs. I am grateful that there are teachers who choose to work in this area so that these children not only get the specialized attention that they need, but mostly they get it from teachers who truly care.
I am grateful for the ancillary professionals who work in schools. My best friend is an Occupational Therapist who works with Special Ed children in their schools. I am always amazed and envious at how easily she can deal with my son when I just want to tear my hair out at times. She has a unique way of relating to children who have special needs. I am so grateful that there are not only OTs but also Speech and Language Pathologists and special reading and math teachers who know how to “connect” with a certain child while watching them improve right before their eyes!

I am grateful for teachers who are flexible when they need to be, yet structured when a situation calls for it.

I am grateful for those teachers who call parents at home, having 30-minute conversations as to how to get through to your child. And I give them bonus points for calling on the weekends!

I am grateful to those teachers who may have to tailor certain homework assignments so that they still get completed, yet maybe a day or two later. And it’s okay with them.

I am grateful for teachers who allow bathroom and water fountain breaks. At the beginning of the year, my son’s teacher wanted every student to bring in a refillable water bottle so that they wouldn’t need “water fountain breaks.” My son needs water fountain breaks. I have yet to send in a refillable water bottle.

I am grateful when teachers make a big deal out of something that could be considered minor, yet the teacher knows it’s a big deal to that child, and lets the child know it!

I am grateful to almost every teacher I know who stays late to help a child, spends their “free time” gathering class supplies, and grading papers. I honestly think my son’s homework is either graded by an older student volunteer or one of her own kids, because the corrections look like young handwriting, not the teacher’s mature script.

And finally, I am grateful that there are so many terrific teachers who all want to make a difference in all young lives. Even if the children struggle, the teacher, in his or her heart, wants to see that child succeed!

So there is my list. I’m sure I am missing many other wonderful things that teachers do.
And feel free to include them in the comments! But these are the ones that are particularly important to me. I felt that for this month of giving “Thanks,” that I wouldn’t dwell on what my son is not getting, but to acknowledge what he and many other children are getting.

Working with a child who has educational challenges is not easy nor is it fun. As a parent of one of these types of children, I can attest to that. And when you have an educator who you know is capable of meeting your child’s needs and actively works with him to become successful, half your day is one huge relief!

What will happen with my son? No one is sure right now. It will probably take at least until January to sort everything out. Until then, I am his advocate and I will make certain that he is getting the respect and treatment he deserves. That’s what Mothers do. Stay tuned.

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Blogger Laura Houston said...

Yeah. Ummmm. It sounds as if you have done your job here. And you have given a lot of thought and effort into it, including asking for second opinions. Your son is lucky to have you as a mom.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Cara Meyers said...

Thanks, Laura. It is turning out from feedback from other professionals who work with Brandon that his teacher falls into the category of "ultimate nitwit!"

6:45 AM  

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