Saturday, 24 September 2011

A Real Teacher Is One That Walks In When The Rest Of Them Walk Out

I really, really hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I am a grateful mom this weekend.  I love that my son is finally learning, and I love that I see him feeling more self confident as a result of his learning.

Dayton's grade 4 teacher is awesome.  Communication with her is so easy, never forced.  The woman is patient and kind, not just to me, but more importantly with Dayton.  Dayton adores her and his aid, which I'm sure is the reason he is becoming more eager to learn.  I pray to our Heavenly Father that this relationship between them remains consistent through the year. 

Almost two weeks ago on a Monday, Dayton received a list of twenty words, and the instructions weren't clear as to what was expected to do with these words for homework.  I figured that the kids needed to memorize these words, but wasn't sure how long they had to memorize them.  So, I reached for the phone and called the school to clarify the expectations.

Dayton's teacher told me not to worry about the list of words as he was not supposed to have had them placed in his agenda.  She would discuss this with Dayton's aid and let her know not to include the spelling sheets in his back pack.  I asked if we could hold off on that for a little bit.  Thinking out loud I told her how Dayton wants to be treated just like the rest of the kids in his class, and that I had explained to him that if that is what he wants, then he will have to work just as hard as the rest of the kids in his classroom.  If he is to be treated the same, it meant that he would have to show that he's responsible enough to do his work in the classroom and at home.  I asked the teacher if we could "just try" to memorize some of the words.  We both agreed that twenty words would be unrealistic at this stage for Dayton, but we could at the very least give it a shot and see what he can do.  I made no promises, but let her know I would leave her a note for Friday morning in Dayton's agenda as to which words Dayton and I had managed to work with at home, as their spelling test would be on Friday.

Dayton and I worked hard, I almost regretted having taken the challenge - almost.  Dayton had learned to spell ten out of the twenty words on the assignment.  With the note to the teacher, I attached all of our practice work to show the teacher our method of work and explained to her how Dayton needed the words enunciated before he could spell them.  He also needed to sound the letters out loud, which may be disturbing to the rest of the class, and she may want to move him to a quiet area so as not to disturb the rest of the students writing the test.

I was sure in my heart that my babe new the ten words inside out, but after school he told me that he got three out of the ten words we studied so hard correct.  The seven remaining words were missing one single letter per word.  Even though Dayton score was low at 30%, I rejoiced that some of what he had studied with me at home had remained with him!  This was fantastic!!!  You have to remember my babe has NEVER written before, unless he copied the words, and even then, the letters had to be dotted (outlined) for Dayton to trace the letters before he actually wrote!!!  I'll take the 30% of honest work before I take the 100% of traced words any day! 

This past Monday, Dayton had another list of twenty words for his spelling test on Friday.  I again called his teacher to find out when his test was, and talking to her, I could understand why Dayton likes her so much.  This woman laughed at my silly humor instead of judging me for it.  She didn't make me feel stupid or like a high maintenance parent for calling to ask questions.  She acknowledged Dayton still having difficulties with compliance, but didn't let me know about it on his daily progress reports as Dayton was making progress even in this piece of the puzzle, and didn't need to 'concern' me with it.  Her tone of voice was not the 'tired, irritable and judgemental' tone I've been accustomed to hearing from Dayton's previous teachers.  This woman sounded respectful of Dayton's needs and difficulties and told me all of his positive characteristics. Damn it!  Why had the woman listened to me?  I've got a fight on my hands this week again to teach my lil man to spell!!!  Ugh.  Oh well, I wanted Dayton to have the opportunity to be like the rest of the kids, now I got it.  I told my self I had plenty of time to curse myself out later.

Dayton and I studied hard this last week for his upcoming spelling test.  There was a night of tears as his frustration grew over the word 'treat.'  It sounded like a long 'ee', just like 'green' and 'street,' so why was it spelled with an 'ea' and not an 'ee?'  "Good question Dayton, but I don't know.  I know I have it memorized that way, and this is the way to spell it."  Awesome answer right?  It's like saying to him "because I said so."  Ugh.  Another night he offered me a few frustrated kicks under the table, bruising my calf.  Oh well.  We still went on and on.  I kept encouraging him as I saw the note his teacher left me on his list of twenty words.  It read "Dayton picked these ten words himself."  I reminded him that he was the one who picked his words, not the teacher, so he had better learn them...

Thursday night came.  Dayton could write seven of the ten words he had picked perfectly, and the remaining three with a letter missing.  One of them was the word 'treat.'  Of course it was.  I've began to hate that word this past week myself.  I promised Dayton that if he could stick with a minimum of seven words spelled correctly out of the ten we studied,  I would get him the wrestling magazine with CM Punk pictured on the cover he so desperately wanted.

Friday morning came.  I wrote out the ten words Dayton would be tested on that day and gave it to him to read before the test.  I have no idea if he did or not, but I wanted him to feel like a success.  That was a really long day for me...  waiting and waiting and waiting to see how he would do was driving me crazy!!!  Finally, the time came for me to pick him up from the bus stop.  I ran all the way and paced up and down waiting for him to get home.  I was so excited to see him come off the bus.  Dayton was GLOWING, and smiling and super excited.  "Mamma!!!  I got it all right!!!"
"Holly crap!  Really?!"
"Well, maybe not all, but I got the seven you said I had to get for the CM Punk magazine!!!  Look!!!"  Dayton practically tore his back pack off his shoulders in his excitement to get it off and dig out his test.  Papers flew out everywhere, neither of us cared.  We both wanted to see the test...  And there it was...  My babe got seven out of ten right!!!  One of the incorrect words was 'treat,' as I had suspected, the other two just missed one letter in each, again!  Pride doesn't even begin to describe how I felt!!!  My baby is learning!!!  It's finally happening!!!  He's learning!!!

Again, I really don't want to jinx ourselves here, but I think Mrs. G. is a "Real Teacher."  To me, a Real Teacher is one that walks in when the rest of them walk out.  And lets face it, Dayton's past two teachers walked out.  They didn't have the patience like Mrs. G. nor did they have the faith in my boy.  But Mrs. G. does.  She didn't have to do what I asked her to do, to have faith in my little guy and let us at least try to spell even a couple of words.  She didn't have to give Dayton the test on Friday; How would I know if he had actually taken it?  BUT SHE DID.  And then she sent it home so I could see it. 

I'm now so happy that Mrs. G included him in the spelling with the rest of the class.  As hard as it is to sit Dayton down to do work, it is now rewarding.  I could see him feeling proud of himself, and feeling good about himself, and I want that feeling for him to continue.  I'm so proud of my little guy.  He's working very hard at school and at home.  He's overcoming obstacles I had worried he never would.  I am one happy mom right now, thanks to a Real Teacher, who has faith in my son, the courage to teach him and the patience of a saint.  Thanks Mrs. G.

Hoping all of our kids are having a good start to the year.  Consider yourselves hugged,


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