I haven’t posted much lately. I think it’s because usually my posts about my year and my class tell a story, and this year, the narrative keeps getting botched up.
Three years in a row I had an awesome class. Last year’s bunch mostly had two parents at home, even the ones who were in poverty, and it really showed. This year I have a lot of awesome students, but as a whole, it has been a difficult group. I guess it was time for me to experience a little adversity.
It’s April, and I am having difficulty seeing the progress my lovelies have made. That’s been overshadowed by the progress some of my lovelies haven’t made at all. One of my special ed students has a tentative diagnosis of developmental delay, but I think that it might change to something like developmentally and cognitively disabled. This child has learned very little all year, no matter how hard we have all tried. Another one used to show a lot of progress, both in behavior and academics, but things are so bad at home that it doesn’t matter what we do, the rage and fear and stress have taken over. I am powerless to make things better. (Yes, we have called Child Protection. They won’t do anything.) I’m watching a child suffer and I can’t help. My third special ed student (that’s another story — I’m only supposed to have two, but somehow just got a third) shows signs of having been allowed to be dependent on adults for too many things, so I’ve got two months to teach this child how to be independent. A fourth student hasn’t learned much all year in terms of academics or basic skills, so I am trying to have him referred to special ed, but it may be too late in the year.
I’ve gotten three new students recently (plus I had two “old” students return from being overseas for almost two months). Two of my lovely, charming babies moved to another school, and were replaced by a child who doesn’t speak any English, a child whose parents have not prepared him for school academically (he can’t speak in coherent sentences, can’t recognize or write his name, knows no letters/sounds/numbers/shapes, can’t count past two, etc.), and the third special ed child I mentioned.
April is usually when you start to measure tons of progress and it’s a good feeling, but all I can see right now are the kids I can’t help. How can I get kids ready for kindergarten when they are only in my room for two months? Or when their special needs are so overwhelming? Or their families are so dysfunctional?
So sorry to hear the discouragement in your words . . . but you ARE making a difference. You HAVE made a difference in many little lives. Go back and read your old posts and remember the little ones from years past who have thrived and moved on. You feel like you are in a sinking ship and your bailing bucket is a collander. Just keep doing what you know works – write down the things they HAVE learned, Sing while you bail girlfriend! YOU cannot save them all. But you will touch ALL of them with your love. Be encouraged! You are an amazing woman, wife, mom, friend and an incredible teacher. Keep doing what you know to do . . . . and . . . summer is coming soon. Paint your toenails and buy some new sandals. Sending you big hugs and love.
If you can say in your heart that you did the best you could do it will have to ne enough, for this year. I’m sure you learned many things you can take away from this hard year to help you be a better teacher in. the future.
But have your lovelies been in relationship? So what if they haven’t made “progress.” If they have learned how to be with each other, made friend or two, known love from you then you have created something wonderful in their little lives for them to build on…next year….or the year after…or the year after that. Relationship – we need to remember relationships.
Gayzle, thank you as always for your unflagging support. It means a lot to me. Sarah, you’re right, I do have to figure out what to take away from this experience. Onesunflower, you are right to point out the importance of relationship. They have known love and friendship this year, and they have experienced being part of a community.
I was thinking about my little new guy with the really low academic skills. There isn’t a ton I can do about that, but he has already learned from me how to be a student in a classroom. He has learned a lot of class and school routines, and he can walk in a line, be in the right place at the right time, and sit and listen in group. So I guess that’s a lot, and it WILL help him in kindergarten.