A Teacher’s Tears of Joy
Two wonderful things happened today. I received my first phone call from a parent asking about her son. She wanted to know about behavior changes as he experienced a “major meltdown” at home. I explained that I had not noticed anything in particular and that he had not complained about anything explicit. As the conversation drew to a close, I asked her if she would mind sharing what happened so I could avoid or address a situation if I could see warning signs.
She replied, “H realized you were not going to be his teacher next year.” The tears flooded my eye, but they didn’t fall.
I took a deep breath to calm my elation. Then, I called a struggling student to my desk for a reading conference to gage her comprehension progress. This child arrived to second grade with a comprehension level that corresponded to the first grade at approximately the third month-first month. Imagine my surprise when she scored at a third grade level. I thought I was hallucinating. I asked her to return to her seat and told the class to silently read at their desk. I turned to face the window and let the tears flow. A few hours later, I retested her. She tested at the second grade level at approximately the seventh month.
I was so appreciative of their efforts, I let them play “teacher” for two entire hours. I wanted them to understand that I know what they felt when as they struggled to learn. I became the student who was frustrated, crying, giving up, looking out the window, complaining and interrupting. I was the student who solved the equation, but could not explain the process of completion. I was the student who jumped up for joy when I understood a concept, turned to explain things to my partner, gave myself a pat on the back or got up to take three belly breaths in our belly breath mirror.
When their voices sounded exasperated and fussy, I put my head down and pretended I was crying. When I came to them with an imagined paper cut and asked for ice during a lesson, the tables were turned. “NO,” they all cried, “You are just trying to get out of class”.
We all hugged and consoled each other. For now, we totally had seen a glimpse of what the other went through. Three of them vowed to never be a teacher.
It was a happy day!