Posts Tagged ‘Teacher’

The Joy

I bawled. I hung up from talking to the teacher and bawled.

She called tonight before dinner asking for a paper I was to sign. Even though I had signed it and sent it back today, the last day of school before summer break, she hadn’t seen it. While we talked, she realized where the paper probably was so she said to disregard her call.

Then she stopped. She said, “No. Don’t disregard my call. It gives me the chance to say thank you for my necklace — I wore it today.”

And then she went on to tell me how much Chloe means to her … how much Chloe has changed her … and what a tremendous blessing it has been to have her. “I love Chloe and will always love Chloe.”

She mentioned the note I wrote to her that I stuck in the bag with her necklace. It meant a lot to her; she took it to heart, which is good because I wrote it from my heart.

The phone call was a bit awkward and incredibly emotional (and those who know me know emotion is not my forte!). The words came awkwardly, if at all. I feel speechless and forever indebted for the care this woman has taken of my daughter this school year. I assured her that the note I wrote to her was indeed heart-felt and that I would never be able to express to her what this year has been for our family — for Chloe.

Hoping it’s not too personal to share, I’m choosing to share it here since this is where I share my heart most of all and really paints a picture of my family’s gratitude for the team that taught Chloe this year:

We have no words to express what this year has been for our family — especially for Chloe. To be valued, to be appreciated, to be loved, to be held to standard, to be included, to be listened to and taught … and all the while be healed from past hurts. Your heart for teaching and for my daughter is gold and healing balm for us. Thank you for an amazing year!

Yes, it’s from the heart. And truly understated, if you ask me.

She went on to say that there’s no way Chloe benefitted more than she did this year; the teacher said she was the one who was blessed. And she was so glad that Chloe landed in her room this year.

The end of the phone call with the teacher is what pushed me over the edge to tears and sobs. She said she didn’t know what our summer looked like, but that she would like to write letters to Chloe and hoped that they could be pen pals. She also said maybe she can come over or meet us at a restaurant and hang out while Chloe plays … “so that you can stay connected to teachers who care.”

And I said, “Yes!”

I said that I would like it very much.

And my heart is full. My heart is full and overflowing — overflowing all down my face and dripping onto my shirt.

The crazy thing? Just a few hours before, Chloe’s aide made pretty much the same offer. It’s as though they can’t imagine the whole summer going by without getting to hang out with my kid.

And I’m finally letting myself believe it. After an entire school year of my precious girl being valued and cared for, I’m finally letting it really sink in. It’s trying to sink in as the tears are welling up. My daughter is truly valued, sincerely liked, and genuinely missed by folks who love her at her school.

I will refrain from asking what planet I’m on!! It’s crazy, indeed. Crazy good!!

Advertisements

Butterfly

As I’ve already said, Chloe is having such a great year of school this year. The team of teachers and aides supporting her are amazing and inspiring! I truly am very thankful for them for blessing Chloe and for teaching Chloe. Such a beautiful change compared to the last two years.

One of her teachers especially seems to have enjoyed connecting with her. This teacher was telling me today about their special relationship. She explained that Chloe really wants to please her and doesn’t like to disappoint her. If Chloe does something loud — screams out or slams her book — this teacher just quietly tells Chloe that that noise really frightened her or made her worry and asks her to do it more quietly next time. And Chloe is responding beautifully to her. (And what a lesson that I want to her learn across settings: her actions affect other people! She’s not the only person in the world!)

When I arrived at my meeting with this teacher today, she asked me, “Is Butterfly not with you today?”

“Excuse me?” I asked her, assuming I had misunderstood her.

And that’s when I learned that this special teacher has a special nickname for Chloe. She calls her Butterfly. She went on to explain their sweet relationship and how they relate to each other and ways that she shows Chloe that she values her and appreciates her input.

“We have a close relationship; that’s why I have a special name for her,” she explained with a smile. “And when I call her Butterfly, she smiles really big.”

Thank you, Lord, for this teacher! Thank you, Lord, for special relationships and sweet teachers who give my sweet girl special nicknames!

Today’s meeting sure did my heart some good. ūüôā

Photo credit: themusicroom.net.au

Painful Regret

I am sorry.

Those words seem so trite and so over-used. But they’re the only ones I know.

I am so sorry. I didn’t know.

If I’d have known, I promise I would’ve done a better job. I would have been more sensitive. More helpful.

I’m sorry, Keith.

I’m sorry. And I’m filled with regret that I wasn’t the one who made a difference in your school experience … in your life.

The emotion surprised me this morning, driving home from dropping off the kids at school. Someone on the radio said Keith or something that sounded like Keith, and immediately there he was as clear as crystal in my mind’s eye.

Keith. I have no idea what his last name was. I can’t even think how old he might be now. I haven’t thought about him in nearly 20 years. But I was his English teacher when he was in middle school. I didn’t have a relationship with Keith at all. I just graded his papers, signed his report card, and shook my head when I saw him struggling with his horrendously trashy locker. I grinned a grin motivated by sympathy and disgust when he walked down the hall under the weight of his backpack that held an amazing heap of disorganized chaos. He had no friends. He was just Keith … odd and alone in the world.

I didn’t know.

I write through tears this morning as I feel the deep regret of missed opportunities. I could’ve been his angel. I ¬†could’ve been the one who stepped in to support him.

But I didn’t know.

I feel certain that Keith was on the autism spectrum. And I don’t think I knew anything about any spectrum back then.

I don’t even think he had an IEP (special education paperwork). And I know I had no idea what an IEP was or the information it contained.

Along with thinking about Keith this morning, I remembered painfully the portable building at that same school where I taught. I never knew what that building was for until my 2nd or 3rd year teaching there. But I eventually learned that the portable building housed the special ed kids who were bussed here from all over the rural county where I taught. It was a self-contained class — and none of us even knew they were there. Those students ate lunch in the portable by themselves. They went to the restroom while the rest of us were in class, I guess, because we never saw them, and we never knew they were there.

Picturing those students in the portable building today … their disabilities were no more “severe” than Chloe’s. Knowing that that portable building is the self-contained environment that Chloe would be placed in if we still lived there caused a deep pain in my chest. Those students were shut off and secluded from the rest of us. They were never given the chance.

And I didn’t know. I didn’t understand.

In a way, I guess Keith was the lucky one. He at least got to live life with the rest of the world. But he had no support. He had no one who understood his struggles. The adults he might have depended on — of which I was one — didn’t step up to support him. So he was alone … alongside the rest of the world.

It pains me to think about Keith. I partly think I can’t blame myself for what I didn’t know. But then again, I’m guessing that there were people 20 years ago who were trying to educate teachers — trying to educate me — and I didn’t listen. Or I didn’t hear. Or I didn’t go out seeking.

I’m sitting here wishing I could again forget about Keith. I’m trying to force his image out of my mind. But that wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t be fair to Keith. It’s only fair that I remember his face well. It’s only fair that I choose to learn from my experience — or my lack of experience with him. It is only fair that I am motivated by the memory of his face and by the memory of his struggle and by the memory of his lack of support.

So really. I’m sorry, Keith. I sincerely hope that you found someone to understand you. I truly hope that you found someone who could support you in the exact ways that you needed. I hope … I really hope that you are happy today. And that you are fulfilled today. That you are loved today. And that you are appreciated today. And I hope that you are heard today… And I hope you don’t remember me. And I hope you never saw the way I looked at you. I hope my face isn’t one you remember in the lineup of adults who coulda, shoulda tried to understand you.

But, Keith, in case you do remember me … know that I am changed. And know that I am striving to make this world a better place for you and for those who come after you. And know that I, today, am pretty convinced that while you sat in my classroom nearly 20 years ago silent,… that you probably could’ve taught me a wealth of content had I simply had ears to listen to you. And I hate that I missed out on knowing you.

Positive Vibes

Yesterday we gathered for Chloe’s annual IEP meeting — we call it an ARD meeting in Texas. ¬†We had spent many hours preparing for this meeting. ¬†I have a couple of incredible friends who work with me in preparing for meetings and fixing Chloe’s education, and we have all worked diligently in preparation for the meeting.

We gathered for the meeting, completely unsure of what it would hold. ¬†Our last several IEP meetings have been combative and hostile — would this meeting continue in that?

Attending the meeting with Paul and me were my two friends.  (Remember I said I will never attend an IEP meeting alone.  No way.)  The four of us arrived at the school in our four separate vehicles about 15 minutes before the meeting was to begin.  As the school and district personnel arrived, they were sent on to the conference room while the 4 of us just waited in the lobby.  It was an uneasy feeling knowing that they were already in there meeting and getting organized while we sat, excluded, and watched the clock.  Finally 15 minutes after the scheduled meeting time, we were escorted to the conference room.  I did not have a good attitude.

But I must say that as we sat at that table and as we all — the school personnel and the 4 of us — took turns talking, asking questions, and reporting, I had the amazing feeling that sitting at this table was a team of people who had gathered for the benefit of Chloe — a feeling that I haven’t felt in over a year at school meetings. ¬†What an amazing feeling it was!

I feel like the tone of the meeting was nice, pleasant, and good. ¬†The teachers reported a TON of stuff that Chloe is doing for them. ¬†To hear that she feels comfortable and safe enough with them that she is actually showing them some of her skills was an exciting feeling — a feeling of relief.

In the end, I had to adjourn the meeting before we were finished because they gave some information that I was not aware of going into the meeting — information that we need to process and plan for. ¬†I wish I had thought to request it before the meeting. ¬†But I asked that we adjourn the meeting and reconvene after Thanksgiving. ¬†We will meet back Dec 1 to finish up this meeting.

I feel really good about things. ¬†Sitting at the table were teachers who care about Chloe. ¬†Both the general education teachers and the special education teachers obviously care about her, notice her, and value her. ¬†The therapists at the table feel the same way about her. ¬†I can’t tell you what that knowledge does to calm my soul. ¬†Literally. ¬†The hours following that meeting, my body and my spirit actually felt lighter and more at peace, knowing that the people who Chloe spends 7 hours with each day actually appreciate her and value her.

<sigh>

 

We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to talk about in the reconvene in a couple of weeks. ¬†Praying that our team stays this positive and this eager. ¬†I have more hope right now than I’ve had in over a year. ¬†Cautious hope . . . . but HOPE!

 

Not My Best Moment

For those of you who have used the word “saintly” when describing me, or somewhere close to perfect, or always perfectly calm and collected, this post is for you. ¬†This post is to debunk such opinions and falsehoods.

First, the background: ¬†I am extremely tired and stressed and spent from the stress and efforts needed as I try to fix Chloe’s education. ¬†I’m spent. ¬†And tired. ¬†And sometimes appear to be at the end of my rope . . . of sanity. ¬†(insert sheepish grin here)

Next, let’s recognize and point out the things I did wrong yesterday. ¬†I did too much — that’s the bottom line.

***Paul had an appointment with a friend yesterday so I got the kids ready for church and took them to church. ¬†I taught in children’s church like I do monthly. ¬†Then the kids and I went out for pizza. ¬†So far so good.

***Well, perhaps where I went wrong was working so hard with Zippy on a home project from school. ¬†I don’t mean a project on our house . . . I mean a project from school that is to be done completely at home. ¬†(NOT my favorite type of project, as you already know) ¬†Zippy worked hard on this project all weekend, but it takes lots of hard work from me, too, nearly every moment that he is working. ¬†It takes lots of energy, tons of patience, gobs of creativity, and an abundance of grace to work with Zippy towards success on something as big as a do-at-home project. ¬†We split it up into 15-30 minute chunks, taking frequent breaks, but the truth of the matter is that he worked on this project most of the day yesterday. ¬†(Disclaimer: ¬†The teacher who assigned this project happens to be a teacher I admire personally and professionally and has already proven to be quite understanding and caring of my boy. ¬†And this teacher also has made it very clear that she wants to know when things are too difficult for Zach so that she can do whatever she needs to do to help. ¬†While do-at-home projects are NOT my cup of tea, this project was a reasonable one that I feel like Zach was successful with even though Mom had a hidden bad attitude about it. ¬†Also, Zach had plenty of time to do this project so that it wouldn’t have to be done all in one weekend, but his Mama tends to shut down and procrastinate when a job seems terribly daunting so he had pretty much just this weekend to complete the project . . . .)

***Then, Chloe had another run in with diaper cream — every bit as messy as the first. ¬†This “run in” occurred whilst I was preoccupied helping Zach with the do-at-home project above. ¬†This “run in with diaper cream” reiterated for me my feelings on do-at-home projects. ¬†Thankfully the diaper cream of choice this time was Balmex instead of Desitin. ¬†While Balmex is a decent diaper cream, containing a high concentration of zinc oxide, it lacks the amazing ARMOR quality of Desitin. ¬†Thank. God. ¬†Seriously. ¬†The mess was huge (and I was in no state to take photographs this time) and covered lots of carpet, walls, clothes, toys, skin, and hair just like last time. ¬†The great news is that unlike Desitin, Balmex pretty easily wipes off of skin and toys and walls. ¬†However, Balmex flaunts its amazing ARMOR quality as it clings relentlessly to hair and carpet — neither of which will ever be the same. ¬†I have spent lots of time, muscles, sweat, and tears scrubbing on Chloe’s carpets the past couple of days. ¬†And it is so bad that until some of the Balmex comes out of the carpet, Chloe can not even play in her room. ¬†Lovely. ¬†(Another disclaimer: ¬†I am pleased to say that Balmex does not have the unpleasant fish smell that a room full of Desitin has, and Balmex has turned out to be quite a lovely treatment for both my and Chloe’s skin — we are both truly soft as a baby’s bottom!)

***After a long, hard day working very hard on a challenging do-at-home project, Zippy went out to play football with Elliot and a couple of neighbor boys. ¬†They played out there until it was getting dark. ¬†About the time the boys were coming in from playing outside, my phone rang. ¬†Since I didn’t recognize the number, I didn’t answer it — choosing instead to continue scrubbing the above mentioned carpet. ¬†When I listened to the message, I discovered that it was the mom of one of the neighbor boys calling to talk to me about something. ¬†(cue the major red flags here since this mom NEVER calls me) ¬†I immediately called Elliot in and asked if there was anything I needed to know about what happened outside. ¬†After a little prodding, he admitted that Zippy had exhibited less than exemplary behavior outside. ¬†My next meeting was with Zippy at which time I gleaned some more info about the unpleasant behaviors that had occurred. ¬†The truth was hard to hear. ¬†He had messed up outside. ¬†To say my blood was boiling at that point would be accurate. ¬†I. let. him. have. it. ¬†In the midst of my rampage, the doorbell rang; it was the mom who had just tried to call. ¬†She was there to get details about what had happened. ¬†At that point I decided to keep myself surrounded by carpet cleaner and Balmex and to continue to let out some of my frustrations while scrubbing with gusto at the ruined carpets. ¬†The meeting at the door between Paul, Zippy, and the neighbor mom carried on without my input which probably would not have proven very helpful at that point anyway.

So there are the events of the day.  The day that I did too much and was pushed too far.

Finally, let’s examine the result of my day and the current situation in which I had landed. ¬†The truth is: ¬†at this point I was spent. ¬†I was done. ¬†I was tired. ¬†I was very, very angry. ¬†And I was having a hard time breathing.

I sat down on the couch (realizing perhaps I should have done a little more sitting / relaxing throughout the day) and tried to focus on the World Series. ¬†Forget the world. ¬†Forget my anger. ¬†Forget my stress. ¬†Forget my disappointment. ¬†Forget the mess. ¬†Just watch the game. ¬†But I couldn’t breathe.

I got up and walked to my room to be alone for a moment, thinking that would help.  But I was still having a hard time breathing.  I was right smack dab in the middle of a full blown panic attack or nervous breakdown or rage attack.  Whatever it was, it was not good, and I needed some fresh air.

I put on my tennies and grabbed my jacket. ¬†I grabbed a water bottle from the fridge and announced as I walked toward the front door, “I’m going for a walk.”

Ears perked up all over the house, as this is not a common occurrence for Mom to just up and leave.  I kept walking.

“Want some company?” asked Paul, curious what in the world was going on.

“Where are you gonna walk?” asked Elliot, trying to convince himself that this was normal and nothing to be concerned about.

“No thanks. ¬†And I don’t know,” I answered as I pulled the front door shut behind me.

Once outside, I tried to breathe. ¬†That was my number one goal — to stay gone long enough to be able to breathe. ¬†And then I just walked and walked. ¬†I wanted to just keep walking. ¬†The breeze was fresh; I was able to hide in the darkness; and eventually I was able to breathe.

I walked nearly an hour, and then I found a bench to sit on for a while.  I just sat and tried not to think.  The moisture from the air soaked into my clothes and skin.  I wanted to sit for hours and not think for hours.

But

I needed to go to the bathroom.

I had downed the whole bottle of water and was in need of the little girls’ room badly.

So I went on home.

The rest of the night I breathed, watched the World Series, and breathed.  When my emotions would come back to the surface, I would make myself breathe again.

And my little fit was over.  Just like that.

Today’s a new day. ¬†This is a new week.

And I have lots of things to do:

  1. I have several meetings with school personnel this week.
  2. Zippy and I still have to finish his project — the drawing / artistic part of it that is usually the worst part of all for him.
  3. I still have lots more elbow grease to utilize on Chloe’s carpets.
  4. And I need to buy more diaper cream.

Yes, today is a new day, and I can do this. ¬†ūüôā

Studious

I had a teacher conference today. ¬†The teacher bragged and bragged about my child. ¬†There are no problems at all. ¬†The teacher reported that my child was “studious and focused.”

Just the kind of parent / teacher conference every parent longs to have.  Yes, I beamed with pride . . . but I was also very surprised.

This was a conference with Zach’s Language Arts teacher. ¬†Proud, yes, because studious and focused are both great qualities to have. ¬†But surprised because no teacher has ever spoken those words about Zach.

Studious and Focused.

Wow!

I immediately said a prayer, claiming those two attributes for my sweet boy.

This teacher was on maternity leave at the beginning of the year and this week is only her 2nd week to have Zach in class.  But she reported a star student.  Wow!

She even has him last period of the day — a time that it wouldn’t have surprised me if his meds were wearing off by then, but she reported that he’s studious and focused.

I again prayed and asked God to make it so! ¬†I so often wish that something — anything! — were easy for Zach. ¬†I feel like he struggles with every single thing in life. ¬†If he were suddenly studious and focused, then maybe a few things would come easier for him.

The teacher did point out the fact that Zach still reverses his b’s and d’s. ¬†Yes, he’s always done that. ¬†But that was her ONLY concern!

It makes me laugh with absolute joy!  It totally cracks me up and puts a smile on my face!  Yippee!

Zachary — Zippy — Studious and Focused. ¬†Yes, Lord. ¬†Let it be! ¬†Let it be!

%d bloggers like this: