Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things I really needed

First and foremost: the snow day, obviously. I had my hopes raised high for the last potential snow day; we even assigned "Sleep with your pajamas inside out and a spoon" as homework.  I slept badly all night from the anticipation, woke up at 5 am to hear the big announcement, and ended up hugely disappointed.  (Dirty teaching secret #437: I think teachers enjoy snow days more than our students.)  So yesterday, when Ms. Halpert started to say, "What do you think are the chances that -- " I cut her off with a "Absolutely none. Zero."  So it was an especially lovely surprise to get the gift of a snow day this morning!  On the news, I saw a reporter interviewing several home health aides who had been waiting for the bus for more than thirty minutes so they could get to their patients, and I immediately felt guilty.  So props to all the people (like Mr. Brave!) who did make it in to work today.

What I really needed, though, was a little encouragement.  Between the situation with my co-teacher and my students' tiny attention spans, I was beginning to question my effectiveness altogether. 

Then the other day, one of my students brought in a cake his mom had baked for us (delicious).  The attached card thanked us for all of our hard work and dedication.  "I have seen my son's love for school grow this year, and it could not have happened without you," she wrote.  Both of us teared up when we read it; what a lovely expression of appreciation, and what validation for both of us.

For some reason, the other day, my thoughts drifted back to the infamous Julio.  He's now in a self-contained class and, according to his new teacher, is doing great.  Recently she contacted me to tell me that his classmates had voted him student of the month for his kindness.  His kindness -- my Julio, who used to kick chairs in the direction of other students in my class.  All of a sudden, I was tearing up again.  Because I thought: I did that for him.  Was I the only reason he got the services he needed?  No.  But was I an instrumental reason his mother finally saw the light after three unsuccessful, frustrating years in school?  I give myself permission to say: Yes, I was.  I may have wanted him out of my classroom, I may have had many, many unkind thoughts about him, I may have cried my eyes out with frustration over him, but I believed in that child.  I am so honestly happy to hear that he's having a good year. 

So that's what I really needed: to feel good about myself as a teacher again, if only for a few brief moments.  (And to lie on my couch wearing my fuzzy pink slippers and blogging in the middle of the day while chunks of snow crack against my window -- that too.)


mcaitlin said...

YAY. that is all. :)

Nacho Lover said...

YES! You so deserve a relaxing snow day, and you totally deserve to feel good about all the hard work you do nonstop. Good for you! Happy snow day!

Robyn said...

Way to go! Those are the moments that make it all worth while - and they will keep happening to you for the rest of your life at moments you least expect it. Sometimes it takes us many years juts how significant an effect we can have on children's lives. It reminds me of something a friend who was also a teacher said to me once - I use this quote all the time - 'A child is like a piece of paper - everyone who teaches them leaves their mark.'