I think this year I am more excited for my kids to be done with the school year than they are…
You know the feeling… you wake up that last morning of school, and TURN OFF your wake up alarm for your kids. And if you are like me, you also TURN OFF the second alarm you have set for them to be ready for the bus, and after you pick them up from school, you’ll TURN OFF your final alarm for making sure you leave to get them on time.
But that’s not the only reason I seem to be more excited for the end of this school year than my second grader is. I know he’ll miss seeing his friends every day. And he’s a social butterfly, so he’ll miss the day to day contact with virtually anyone that isn’t in his immediate family. Don’t get me wrong, he’s pretty excited for the camps he is signed up for this summer, and t-ball, but lets face it, it’s not the same.
Me on the other hand, I cannot wait to be done with this school year. The last half of the year has been anything but easy for my kid, and for my husband and I. You see, the saying is true, that the teacher makes all the difference. I think part of our experience of having such an amazing teacher last year may have set us up for what we experienced this year. Because there is no other word to describe her, I’ll use the only one I can come up with, Magical. She took a broken kindergarten graduate and turned him into a reading lover, skilled mathematician, high self-esteemed first grade graduate.
But no one could have guessed all the struggles we would have with our second grade teacher. I wouldn’t have believed it if they’d have told me what we’d experience this year. No one could have told me she would be telling us at conferences what a great week it had been when our son was home sick all week. No one would have guessed that she would dismiss a student physically lashing out at her classmates, my son included, and when trying to address it I would be told it wasn’t the first time it happened, and it wouldn’t be the last either. No one would have guessed that the teacher would liken my child to a dog, and then end up licking the air to show how he resembled a dog when he was licking the peanut butter that had leaked out the side of his sandwich, in front of the principal. No one would have guessed that she’d feel comfortable telling us that she has had enough of our second grader, and that she is done with him.
It concerns my husband and I that if she’s comfortable talking this way and acting this way to us, how is she treating the kids in the classroom? Our son went from reading a grade above his peers, to not progressing on his tests all year long. He went from believing he was an awesome reader, to hating it. He went from excelling in math to being punished for working ahead in it. He went from loving school, to not wanting to go at all. He has expressed his own concerns that his teacher hates him and will never say anything nice about him. He feels picked on, and bullied, by his second grade teacher. He is 7 years old.
On the last day of school he came home feeling more defeated than yesterday. He is a broken little boy who by the grace of God will be mended by the time 3rd grade come around in 3 short months.
Because of this school year, I will hold my soon to be third grader more tightly, and reassure him that he is worthy of excellence. I will hold him and tell him how much I love him. I will repeatedly reassure him that he is an amazing person, that he is kind, that he is cared for, and that we will always love him unconditionally. I will remind him that just because he was only given one award while all the other kids in his class got one-plus, and even tho it was the lowest level award given, he is worthy of so much more. He is broken. But he won’t stay that way. Not if I have anything to say about it.
If you are a teacher reading this, please know, YOU MATTER.
What you say to these kids, matters.
How you treat the kids, matters.
How you make them feel around their peers, matters.
You have so much power, especially in these early years, you have so much influence on these kids.
You spend more waking hours with these kids during the school year than their parents do during the week days.
You can make or break their spirit, their drive, their security, their self-esteem.
You can bring them up, or you can bully them down.
You can teach them to bring one another up, to be fair, to be honest, to be kind to be caring.
But the opposite is also true.
And the same is true for parents who will be home with their kids during summer break. These kids are our future. I know sometimes I need to be reminded to do better, sometimes we all do.