The Two-Way Mirror
Ruth recently wrote in an email to a friend,
“What I do know is that we are striking a chord with a lot of people. The number of women who have thanked us for undertaking this is really encouraging. In the TED video by Brené Brown on vulnerability/shame, she said: “The most powerful two words when we are in struggle are: ‘me, too’.” That’s what we’re trying to do, and also to show that once you get past the struggle of K-12 school, so much of this gets better …. which begs the question …. how can we make it better in K-12 school? What is wrong with our systems??? Our kids are hurting because they are trying to be funneled through systems that just don’t work for them …. what can we do for them? It brings up lots of questions. We don’t have the answers, but we are opening the conversation.”
Got your anti-anxiety meds ready?
If you are a parent of a kid like our composite, “Jimmy,” you know what it’s like to have Jimmy at home, and to deal with the schools.
[ …. deep cleansing breath …. ]
Now … imagine being a teacher … and having five “Jimmy’s” in your class!
Got your anti-anxiety meds ready now?
Good. Now take another deep breath … and thank your kids’ teachers.
We know that in this blog, and in our book, there will be a lot said about kids’ difficult experiences in the schools.
But we want to stress that we value and appreciate what teachers have done for our children.
We know how hard teaching is. Ruth knows first-hand, as a former public school teacher herself – one who has had many “Jimmy’s” in her own classes. And Martha says, “I have ADD and sensory overload issues, and if I had five “me’s” in a class, forget it!”
Think about this: we keep saying that it’s terrible when people only tell us negative things about our parenting or our children.
Now imagine you are the teacher … and you have a bunch of parents like us!
So, just like we are asking you to think about all the things you have done right, we also ask you to think about all the things your child’s teachers have done right, too. Remember that 99.99999% of teachers (Ruth’s official, in-the-trenches study) go into this profession because they truly want to help children learn – all children, with all learning styles. And it is hard to have all those different learning styles, IEPs, 504s, modifications, enrichments, etc., etc., etc. in your class … while you want to do the best for every single child. That is a teacher’s greatest goal, and greatest challenge.
Remember as well: we are all human.
Your kids’ teachers are working their butts off … just like you are, and just like your child is. And nobody – not you, not us, not your kids, and not your kids’ teachers – wants to have all the things they are doing wrong highlighted all the time. Think about walking a mile in their shoes … while accompanied by our issues. (Get an imaginary pair of comfortable shoes first; most teachers don’t get a chance to sit all day!).
In our experience, for every not-so-great moment for our kids, there have been so many moments of incredible kindness, where a wonderful teacher – despite the fact that we were “that mother” and that our kids were “that kid” (or maybe because of it!) – went the extra mile for our children, and for us.
We remember these teachers with love, admiration and gratitude, and we could not be more grateful.
[ ……….. deep cleansing breath ……… ommmmmmmmmmmmmm …….. ]
Now that we’ve said that ……. did we mention that there are a few things we think need to be changed?
I can’t say enough good things about the teachers and my “Jimmy’s” school. I had started him in a K class at a private school thinking it was structure he needed and it would straighten him out, stop the “bad behavior” he showed in PreK. 3 months later his issues were worse and (after being accused of beating him) I was basically told to fix him or leave. Obviously, there was no fix so he was expelled and had to start a new school.
On his 3rd day of public school he had a meltdown that required me to take him to the ER for a psych evaluation. The staff at the school could have been jerks… I did just drop this problem child into their laps.Being a public school, they couldn’t turn him away, but they didn’t have to be so accepting and helpful to us either.
The school councilor road with me to the hospital so I wouldn’t be alone, the principal called me that night to tell me how proud he was of how I reacted when walking into the war zone my son had created. The social workers and teachers have an emergency plan for him when he has an episode without making him feel like an outcast. In the past 1.5years they have been nothing but supporting and understanding making my son feel loved.
With the new year starting my nerves are getting raw. I getting ready to fear any phone call that I receive during school hours. Even though I hate hearing from them when problem arise at least I’m hearing from them and I know I have a support system.
(I really need to send this in a letter to them before the new year starts.)
This is such a wonderful story! Well, not the first part (ugh, what a nightmare for you!), and not the struggles your son is having (and you are having, as a result), but what a fantastic story about the teachers and principals at your son’s school, and how they handled everything! I love hearing great stories about great teachers … in part, because I myself am a teacher, and I know how hard teachers work and how much judgment they (we) get from the “outside” (very much like we, as parents of kids with issues, do). In fact, I’ve had many “Jimmy’s” in my classes …. and it’s interesting that, ten years later, the parents I’ve remained in contact with are the parents of the “Jimmy’s”. I guess we definitely bonded! In fact, I’m going to be writing more about what it’s like to be both a parent of a “Jimmy” and a teacher of “Jimmy’s” … and about working in partnership with schools in general. When I do, can I quote your story?
And by the way, YES, by all means, send this in a letter to your school before the new year starts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Trust me, it will be so appreciated. And while your school will clearly continue to be supportive and helpful anyway, it really does help for them to know that you appreciate and value what they do. I fell all over myself thanking the teachers and administrators who really “got” my son and went out of their way to help him! Just like us as parents of kids with issues, the teachers who are in the trenches need for someone to tell them they are doing an awesome job, too.
Thank you so much for writing!!!!
The perfect reminder for the start of a new school year. Thank You! I needed that. Truth be told there have far more good, caring teachers and school staff who really rooted for his success than bad ones. Its true that the system itself is not anywhere near a perfect fit for either of my kids but in many cases, teachers have bent over backward to help find workable solutions. Yes, there have been many snags along the way. There was the first grade LD class that my son was asked to leave due to behavioral issues (throwing chairs, hitting others, etc.). We were in that weird, freaky limbo state while waiting for new placement. But all the difference was made when we found the school where my son’s behaviors weren’t a freak show but instead par for a typical day and before long, those behaviors were extinguished (of course they were replaced by others but at least they weren’t violent) until…….. Fast forward to middle school and I found myself being required to take him to the ER for an eval after he exhibited what was construed by the school as potential self injurious behavior. Kiwionaleash’s comment brought it all back. Its good knowing others can relate but I sure would not wish this on any of us. Navigating the crazy, convoluted, clearance for re admittance to school requirements was the absolute most fun I’ve had in a long time, especially the part about having to do it all on a Friday afternoon so he could go back on Monday. Couldn’t wait to do that again. Sorry, got a little carried away there.
Yes there are a few piece-of-work teachers here and there but most are gems and some I am still in contact with and they ALWAYS want to know how he’s doing and are genuinely happy to hear about his successes (which I pray will continue).