Since learning that I would be writing a book about supporting our 2e kids, I’ve been a bit distracted.
In addition to my regular life of homeschooling and teaching, I now seek to find quality time for writing.
Honestly, I was a bit intimidated by this new opportunity and the reality of it all…until the Universe had a way of reaffirming the purpose of my book.
Let me explain…
The last couple of days, my work email has been screaming at me about my crowded mailbox. I’m sure that I’m not the only person that has ignored these with the promise to tend to it later.
At the end of the day, I decided to devote 30 minutes to this task of email spring cleaning. It seemed fitting as it was the first day of spring. As I dug deeper through my “sent” and then “deleted” folders, I discovered emails about past students and parents that I had previously considered “highly involved.”
Some of these emails went as far back as eleven years. Long before my own status of parent has been added to my identity.
Before I deleted these messages, I was compelled to read a few specific ones and honestly I’m ashamed at the words that stared back at me.
A parent was sharing with me that her child was bored and frustrated by school. Asking for suggestions and sharing her child’s passions for art, building & anything that was about cars or trucks.
My response was condescending.
At the time, I didn’t think that it was, but it was. I half-heartedly recognized the strengths, but spent the bulk of my response back to this parent on the struggles and deficits that I saw in the classroom.
I was quick to point out the areas of improvement, the sloppy work and the attempts to get by with as little effort as possible. I stressed the importance of compliance and following procedures in order for a large group to function effectively.
I have always thought of myself as a good teacher but reading this, I was horrified.
I wanted to send a new email, an apology. One that would explain my lack of understanding and empathy. One that would focus on all the strengths that could come from an interest in art, creating and the passion for transportation and simple machines.
The words that I had heard Oprah say so many times that her greatest mentor Maya Angelou had drilled into her, were now ringing in my head.
“When you know better, you do better.”
I thought I knew. I had justified my response and didn’t understand my need to shift my thinking about that child’s strengths and learning preferences.
Everyday, I hear or read horror stories of misunderstood twice-exceptional children. Frustrated and terrified parents that worry about their child’s self-esteem and anxiety.
I hear about well-intended teachers that want to better understand; however, they haven’t received the training or their dictated focus is on catching up those that are falling behind.
As I thought about my email from the past, I also considered my own son’s experiences in the traditional classroom setting. The words that were used to discuss his struggles and our desperate attempts for school officials to focus on his strengths and positive characteristics instead of obsessing on all of his downfalls.
Okay, Universe. I get it. I’ve been schooled. I have a new focus on helping others not make the same mistakes.
“When you know better, you do better.”
Wow, that is really powerful. I’ve always felt that parents make better teachers than non-parents (though I’ve worked with really rotten teachers who do have kids). I do think it’s true that once you’ve struggled, it can be easier to have empathy. I suspect this is going to be a very good book.
The education that I have received will hopefully teach others😄
That was exactly what I was thinking… Wow how powerful! It’s great that you can speak from both perspectives. Once upon a time, you didn’t understand. Now you do. I imagine that experience will make your writing so much richer!
Thank you! I certainly hope so😊
That greatly depends on that person’s experience as a parent. Not all kids are the same. I have relatives who have 5 kids who still don’t “get” what the big deal is in trying to get my Asperger’s son an appropriate education is.
Oh that post needs to go out into the teaching universe! Well written 🙂
Thank you! The email was timed perfectly. Teachers are human and we do the best we can. I believe we want to do good work, but sometimes we need more education ourselves.
Like you, I wish I could redo lots of my former life and career in the classroom. I guess that’s called wisdom. It doesn’t come cheaply and can’t be rushed. Life is learning. Thanks for putting it into an honest and enlightening reflection.
Thank you! I hope that many can honestly look back and make improvements for the future!😀
I love this. I’m sure I’d be schooled, too, if I looked back. When you know better, you do better, and you are 🙂
Thank you so much!