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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Contaminated Perception

Last week I had the opportunity to fill in for a classroom teacher during the school's Curriculum Night.  Curriculum Night is a night for students and parents to come see the school, their classroom, talk with their teacher, and receive information regarding the learning materials being used throughout the school year.  I was happy to help out my co worker when she couldn't be in her classroom that evening.  Classrooms are somewhat of a foreign territory to me, as I have never taught in a regular classroom before.  Yet I always love having the opportunity to get out of my classroom and interact with the students that I don't get to work with regularly. 

The evening started off slow with only one or two families showing up at a time.  I wasn't sure what to expect with the turn out so I eagerly greeted them and introduced myself. Throughout the night the pace of the room picked up as 5 and 6 year old students came bounding in with dancing eyes.  Parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, and uncles accompanied the children.  They laughed together at the work displayed around the classroom, they listened as their child showed them around the room, and eagerly asked questions. 

I was taken back by the interest these families showed.  Not only by the interest, but also by the way they were dressed and their general demeanor.  When you are around a certain make up of people for an extended amount of time I think your mind and expectations are either lowered or highered depending on your experience. 

Sadly, my expectations were much lower than they should have been.  In the past I worked with families that struggled with poverty and families that abused drugs and alcohol.  It was an eye opening experience for me to see the daily struggles the students and parents went through to survive the lives they lived. My normalcy had become expecting parents to not show up for meetings or school events.  If they did show up, I expected them to be wearing sweats or pajama pants and quite often in dirty clothes.  Many of the parents I would meet were missing teeth, something I quickly learned was a sign of meth use.   I cried often, hugged many, and encouraged children they did not have to continue living as they currently did. While these appearances were different to me, I was still always thrilled when I saw the parents at the school with their children.  I would think to myself,  "You don't have to dress up to support your kids".  BEING THERE is so much more important that what you look like. 

     Ironically, in the short time I have been in my new location, I have cried often, hugged many, and encouraged children to do whatever they want to do in life.  The difference is, is that these children have the home supports to help them get to where they want to go.  In my new school community the families that showed up proved to me that my expectations were contaminated by what use to be.  I have a new normalcy to learn now, and I am excited to move forward with fresh expectations. 

While fulfilling my lunch duty the other day, a kindergarten student raised his hand and asked me to help him read his napkin note.  My eyes welled up with tears while I recited what his mom had neatly scripted on the napkin.
     "Remember...Jesus is always with you.  I love you! xoxo"

I want to thank the parent who wrote this note for giving me hope for the future of our children. God speed to those of you that show how much you care.  I think I speak for all teachers when I say, THANK YOU!

1 comment:

CaseyO'Roake said...

tears! I love that napkin note! :)