May 12, 2012

Cheers to Teachers!

I know it seems like this is a tiny bit late, but it is.  It’s late, and I didn’t have time until right now-to write it.  But I figured, what the hell, it’s not like it’s less relevant. 


Teachers are amazing.  They are.  Hands down, they rule the world in some small way.  And the pay is surely not commensurate with the job.  It’s extraordinary the opportunity they have each day to touch so many lives, and I say “many lives” because there’s a lot of damn kids in classrooms today.  Can you imagine not too shy of 30 kids’ lives you have to try to improve each day, while they move constantly, blurt out ridiculous comments and generally make you say the same thing over and over?  Well, with my two kids, I know my abilities seem lean, so I have huge respect for teachers. 


But I have even more respect for amazing teachers.  Like any job, there is a chance to do well and then some teachers kick it out of the park.  And this year we were lucky to have the best second grade teacher.  She dropped from heaven to our lives.  Yes, “our lives” because much of my son’s life at school revolves around my relationship with the teacher and our ability to communicate.  So it’s best of all when I can respect the teacher I will be “working” with all year to make my son’s experience the best it can be.  And since we have the challenge of ADD, the teachers who openly embrace the challenges of all children—they, well, inspire me to do better. 


Today I spent some time in the classroom grading papers.  I was huddled at a little desk in the back of the room with my back to the class.  I wanted to focus and work quickly, to get the most done.  But I listened to every word.  I love to hear the conversations and the way the teacher handles them.  But mostly, I listen for my son.  He gets nervous when I watch him, so I thought I would face away so he would be more relaxed.  I love being in his space.


The class was picking names for the two chicks that hatched in their room this week.  How awesome is that?!  My son threw the name, “Chuck” into the mix.  Loved it.  Another child said “stinky” or “fluffy” and I believe there was a suggestion for “Michael Jackson” too.  Of course that would be a lovely name for a chick…  Hmmmmm. 


And then still another child offered up the name “pecker”.  I giggled to myself without turning around.  This woman is amazing with the kids.  I was in awe of her strength and solidarity without being harsh.  And you often picture teachers with this angelic, maybe even naïve sense about them.  But without missing a beat and without creating a distraction or an obvious space in the classroom–without letting the other children even sense the infraction or impropriety of naming a chick, “pecker”, she simply said, “No honey, we’re not going to name the chick pecker.”


That was it!  No explanation, no hoopla.  The children didn’t even notice!  It was flawless.  I know it seems small, but it wasn’t.  It is the grace with which teachers learn to move through moments in their day without flinching, leading without showing any sweat.  I have a lot to learn from that.  And after aiding in preschool for the last 4 months, I know from experience that teachers who are that flawless have a gift.  I know because I don’t have the gift. 


So I had to shout it out today.  Simple.  I am going to remember that more often with my kids.  I am going to try to be less verbose, without changing my entire parenting style.  I am probably entertaining as the loud, verbose, tiny mother that I am.  But I could use a little more “smooth”, a little more simple, maybe a little less hoopla at times.


Cheers to being more smooth, and using less words and gestures to say something simple, Cheers to those amazing teachers who are succinct and powerfully subtle.  Cheers to women and men who give their lives to our children’s education.  Cheers, cheers, cheers!