Parenting and Pedagogy is about writing my way. Thinking about parenting, teaching, literacy, arts, life, and finding my next path.
Each Tuesday I participate in the Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge hosted at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/
A few moments,
dew drops on metal roof
crickets, crickets, crickets, crickets, crickets. . .
black of night,
crickets, crickets, crickets, crickets, crickets. . .
fades to black tree top shadows
against blue twilight
a last star
There is a line from a movie my kids watched recently, about
a split second of bravery, when you take the leap and voila, you can change the
course of your life (and it only takes that split second of bravery). I still can’t quite remember what movie it
was, and I don’t dare wake my kids to ask, or I won’t get to write this! Yet, that idea of doing something that scares
the pants off me only taking a deep breath, a moment’s decision, one baby step and
then voila?! It is so enchanting. That was the thought in my mind when the
principal asked me to tell a bit about myself. I knew that was, The Moment, I
took a deep breath and I began to pull photos and materials from my bag. (How
many interviews have I done and left my true teaching self hiding in a bag or
basket on the floor, leaving the scared mom looking for a job sitting in front
of a panel of interviewers?) Today, I
let the teacher out of the bag!
Suddenly, the door was open, I had bridged that point where
I usually struggle to find the right words, because I wasn’t the only one
talking. The others, a combination of
teachers, curriculum specialist, and principal, instantly saw me as a teacher. I explained how in ancient times we teachers
did not have to stamp everything we did with the standard we were teaching, but
I had gone through my things to see how they apply to current teaching
standards and written the standards that applied. My good faith effort for them to see, I “get
it”. I know that we need to cover CCSS,
but I also know it still needs to be good teaching and worthwhile to
The interview flowed like a conversation after that. Sometimes they skipped questions I had already answered. They each asked questions, and so did I. We were all talking and smiling and it felt right. We ended with a tour of the school, a
handshake, and a promise that I would find out by the end of the week. I left, past the field with the little
overgrown gardens of school during summer, out past the farm houses, barns,
tractors and miscellaneous four wheelers and variety of critters pastured along
the winding mountain road, feeling the tension gone from my shoulders and knowing
whether or not I get the job, I accomplished something life changing in that
Many of us have children beginning school soon, or who have begun a new year already. We are parents and teachers and we know, beginning school can be hard for kids and families with new routines, new teachers, new classes, or new schools. I thought of this post as I do at the start of each school year, from a time when feelings were still quite raw from a "difficult" school experience, and am reposting for you all to reread and share. Here is hoping that you all are blessed with kind, loving teachers with abilities to see the best, the most positive traits in your children. Hope you are blessed with Teachers and staff able to erase the proverbial box and replace it with an open mind and heart. :) Amy OUR MAGICAL CREATURES When I started teaching, someone, I think it was my stepmom, shared a poem or letter? she found. I believe it was written as if from parent to teacher about a little girl on the first day of school. And though my memory is foggy on everything else, I remember the message as 'please notice that my child is nervous and excited to be at school, that she wore 'special shoes' and lost a tooth last night, and she longs to be noticed for who she is and welcomed to this new adventure called school.'
I felt most successful as a teacher when I made time, first thing, to check in with each and every child, each and every day. I would say, "Tell me something you've done lately." or "Tell me something I don't know about you." or I would just let them bubble over with whatever they were fizzling to tell me. I really felt I knew my kids and therefore taught them better for it. Conferences were easier because the parents and I could laugh and share their children.
Isn't that what we all hope for when we send our children off to school? We want our children to be noticed and loved for who they are, and who we parents created. Creation via a child is a powerful (or at least time consuming :) form of self expression. Probably the most painful as well, because our children are us, and our children are not us, all at once.
What I didn't know while reading that letter as a twenty something first year teacher was that when I feel my child has been rejected or is not being seen for his true and beautiful self, to say it hurts doesn't even scratch the surface. I've had to grow a thick skin as the mom of a child with an invisible disability. People in general have a hard time believing what they can't see. So, to explain what they don't really understand, they make up stories like the Greeks, and Romans and many other cultures between now and then.
One popular tale is "I see that child misbehaving. That parent is doing a lousy job. She needs to discipline that kid the way my parents did it." The story is based in fear of the unknown I think (The idea that a child that might not succeed with the usual parenting techniques or the one's we're most familiar with may seem scary to some), and (the story) is meant to create a feeling of safety (this couldn't happen to me) for those telling the story. They also distance themselves by giving our kids worrisom names or labels; naughty, manipulative, busy body, bully or more serious; Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Child Onset Bi Polar Disorder, or Tourret's Syndrome. . . and They see our children as monsters through their fear.
The lucky ones (parents, teachers, relatives, friends), those not blinded by fear, see our children as the magical creatures that they are. Our children are truly Magical creatures with special powers to ignite ideas into being, to illuminate the darkness with their smile, poetry, music or art as they dance through life to an unfamiliar beat. The lucky ones hear our child's voice as a song on the sea breeze gentle and steady and meant to be.
As a Mom and teacher, I feel the need to extinguish the power of the bad stories and names and the fear. In order to do this, I accept the sage advice of wise philosophers. I love what is, and accept the truth. So when the storytellers say "He is oppositional, defiant, or seeking attention.", I say "Yes. He is!" He is defiantly opposing being placed in a box built by a stranger . . .built, for some other child. He demands for people to pay attention to who he truly is. He is loving and loved, creative and evolving, strong and fragile, and. . .human. As a parent I love him, nurture him, teach him and advocate for him. As a teacher I love those like him (and all the others too), I nurture them, teach them and advocate for them.
I wonder what it would be like to be one of those families, like on facebook . . . , that land of happy faces vacationing and frolicking joyously together. . . I am guilty of posting those happy faced pictures too, really, but sometimes I am tempted to take a photo of the kids in the car when 12-18 inches of self space clearly becomes "not enough space", or a selfie of me when my tolerance even for "happy noises" becomes rashly depleted. Take our recent trip to The Cape. . .
I think the ride out (just under 4 hours for us) went amazingly well. Once we got onto the Cape, the kids watched their favorite movie "Sandlot" for the billionth time to avoid the "Are we there yet? blues". We rented an RV (lovingly dubbed "Big ole Parked Turd, thanks to Robin Williams in "RV" the movie) to avoid arguing during "set up camp" time, usually held when the kids have too much "helping" energy, and Mom and Dad not enough, and that strategy worked surprisingly well too. We headed to find the "big grocery" which I had an idea about the location of, but it had been years since I had been there, and I wasn't driving, soooooo. . . We took the wrong left turn first, then circled around to the tune of "Are you sure it's in Provincetown?", "Yes! I am sure! I just don't remember the name of the road, but it is one of these big lefts, and I forgot my phone with the map on it at the camp!" My thought bubble read, "why do we really need to go to the store for a package of rolls right now anyway?!!" But it's all ok, because we all ate icecream after and laughed at the little pig wagging his tail and walking on a leash and a few other interesting sights while in town.
I am of the philosophy that when vacationing or "roughing it" you "go with the flow" ie: don't get crabby about wrong turns (um. . .until the end of the trip when to take the same wrong turn as last year and then it's ok to get downright grouchy. . hm hmm. . . uhh, just saying, going home is harder for some of us!). You "make sacrifices." ie: who needs salt and pepper and mustard anyway? and you pretend it is not really raining too hard ie: find a way to laugh and smile through it . . .till the water is actually running down your back to the seat of your pants. Let's just say, everyone in our family doesn't share my same "roughing it", "vacation" mentality, so sometimes attitudes get a lit-tle sour.
All in all though, the trip was good. Improved upon some otheres before it, and tried some new things. The Pirate Museum is a great way to drip dry during a deluge at the Pier for about a dollar a minute, as it's not that huge a place. We had a great beach day, I laughed at the kids laying in the water and acting like the waves were huge. (sadly trip to Marconi washed out due to rain, I was hoping they would see real waves) The water was warm compared to the icy waters of Maine so we were all good there. And the kids surprisingly had loads of fun at the campground "playground" which consisted of . . . swings. Thats it folks, but the swings were in beach sand which set off their stunt man ingenuity to see how far and wild they could jump from the swings. We had a fire, roasted many marshmallows and ate many smores. All in all a good trip. . .
. . .till that wrong turn on the way home (quickly remedied by husband driver, who clearly had no part in the wrong turn, due to terrible options: a. ignore very sure sounding wife, or b. follow very sure sounding wife's directions the wrong way till she realizes and gets angry anyway. . )