Thursday, January 30, 2014

son, sun.

I sit back and watch.

30+ children. A newly hired, 5th-grade teacher thrown into the kindergarten jungle. She is kind and smart and she cares. But she has nearly 10 students with apparent but undiagnosed learning disabilities. 10 more with springs in their seats who can't stop moving. Their last teacher quit, leaving the students with the impression that he left because of them. He'd taken away pencils as a punishment in the first week of school so they'd not been writing. He'd stopped using Spanish because they weren't picking it up fast enough. He'd pushed parents away when he needed their help the most. So the new teacher has the task of bringing these students up to speed in every aspect of kindergarten proficiency, all in Spanish, a second (and virtually unheard) language for all but a handful of students.

I watch as she spends at least 10 minutes, five times a day, trying to teach them how to walk in a line.

I watch as she reminds them dozens of times to watch her so that she can give them one bit of information.

I watch her and I get to love her for what she gives for these children.

As a volunteer I wonder how I can help her. As a mother I wonder why I bring my son to school.
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I watch Ossi pick at the carpet and hum while she teaches.

I watch Ossi doodle pictures on his school work.

I watch him become so bored he almost falls asleep in his chair.

I watch him get in trouble for dancing when he should be sitting.

He's pretty "good" when I'm there, though.
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It's funny, when I get a chance to teach in the small groups, I talk the way I talk to him at home. I get super excited and silly. I have to apologize to the teacher all of the time for getting the kids too riled up. I just love to see their faces light up when my enthusiasm starts to rub off.

If I'm teaching and Ossi is in another group, his eyes are on me. He is smiling and giggling from across the room.

His teacher said that if she had more help or less students to care for she could be excited like me, but she doesn't so she can't. I can tell that she has that same light she wishes she could share. But it is her job to prepare them for first grade where they will be standing in lines and watching the teacher lecture.
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For English time she read the book "pushing" about what happens when we push things. I was dying inside. She asked the book's question "would be harder to push a toy truck in the sand or on a hard floor?" And none of the kids had any clue. I thought, we need to get these kids to the beach, pronto.

When did we start learning in books the things we should have learned in the sandbox?
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Ossi's teacher asked that we come in and have a conference with a school counselor to develop an IEP (individualized student plan) for Ossi. She was his advocate and mine the whole time as we established what we'd like to see for him in the educational system.

She said, "I hope that his future teachers will see his unique leaning style as an asset, not a liability." And I said that sounded pretty good, but in my heart I knew that any child who would was not a line-walker or eyes-on-me learner would not quite fit in the public school system.
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I love that his teacher told me about this video. She gets me. And she gets him. She actually has a son like Ossi in another class and is trying to help him find his path.

After the meeting with the school counselor I felt worried. Then I looked up and there he was, my son. Smiling. Smiling like the sun.
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And I wasn't worried anymore.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Meg,
I've been thinking of you. I've been researching alternative education for Ella, too. This is where I would send Ella and Rowan if I could afford it: We're putting in an application at Valley Inquiry school, it's a charter school, and I really hope she gets in. I don't want her to have a public school education, but home school isn't an option. It's really hard when you want to give your children the best education they can have, but it's difficult to find the resources to do so. There is another program that Joe and I just learned about and a lot of it is outdoors (I'll have to ask him the name). Anyway, I feel ya. It's hard to juggle school and living. How's Molly? We should see each other soon.
Love ya,