Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wonderful, Rebellious, Outstanding Teacher

I am loving my son's new teacher, and not just because she told me my son was a super genius, really.  She said he was a sweetheart, too, helping out the other kids when he finished his work.  Pretty much melted right onto the floor then and there.  We had a rough start to the year, but that's nothing new.  It was the first year my son didn't cry on his first week day of school.  He ended up with the teacher who, as acting principle, wanted to suspend his little brother after he got his nose bloodied last year and hit back. She turned out to be a super funny teacher, so that was good news.  One week later, though, he got a new teacher.  In order to reduce class sizes, they hired a new teacher and made some class changes, and although a group of buddies all moved, tears were shed and emotions ran high with the kids and parents.  My son does not adjust to changes well, and while he's a great student, he's not a fan of this whole school thing. 

The first week he had a different complaint each day about the teacher, but on Friday he had some anecdote told with a big smile.  I was concerned, though, and checked in with a few parents who'd been in the class.  In his view she was really quick to crack down on misbehaviour (mostly talking) and snapped loudly at the kids.  The parents saw this as her way to nip issues in the bud, but I wasn't so sure.  I suspected this complaining might just be his way of coping and adapting to a new teacher.  When I went in and volunteered myself I found one of calmest, nicest teachers I've ever met.  Actually, every teacher I've met at this school has been wonderful, although I've only gotten to know a handful.

She seems absolutely wonderful.  She asked me to call or meet with her because my little guy was sitting on the curb at recess, waiting for it to be over.  At our meeting she said the girls would come over to chat, but wanted to see if we could come up with ideas for lunchtime activities for him.  Ironically he's very athletic, unlike his mom who would never have attempted a game of tag in school, but the kids basically make up new rules during the game, especially the 5th graders as they hate to be bested by the speedy 3rd and 4th graders, so he doesn't really join those much.  Even though lunch and recess are break times for teachers (unless they have yard duty) she goes to watch her class to see how they are doing in these early weeks.  How great is that ? She's going to bring in a chess set and is working on getting the library open, although reading would not top his list.

She praised his artwork (he never does art at home) and confessed she had to sneak in some of the art projects and any free time (his favorite) in case the principle walked in. I love our principle, but she's pretty obsessed with test scores and extra time should be filled with academics.  I swear this woman is a saint.  She told me she never made her kids read at night and Keegan does plenty of reading during the day so not to worry about that (I was already about 70% given up on this nightly reading thing).  She's even going to tailor the homework to each kid, tossing the regularly issued homework.  (His last two teachers were not fans of homework and pretty much did all they could to avoid the worksheet busy work.)  She even conveyed a little excitement that he broke out of his normally good behaviour and ended up in the "red zone" for acting silly during music time.

These teachers who have big hearts, smart minds and are confident enough to break a few rules are what give me hope for our educational system.  Now if I could just get my little boy to admit he likes school just a little bit.

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