Sep 30 2014
I just discovered that I taught the parents of one of my new 1oth grade students. Yes, both of them. I only tutored the mother for one year (12th grade) while I taught the father for the duration of his three years in high-school.
A friend pointed out that he was rather surprised that I tell this story to everyone who bothers to listen. Frankly, I’m quite excited about it.
I know it shows that I’m getting old. It’s a fact I’m not trying to hide. I’m 51. There, I’ve said it. But I don’t think age is the issue here. I’m much more worried by signs of forgetfulness (I cannot remember names! Oh no!) than by this. After all, I started young, I began teaching when I was 22. When one teaches high-school, one can get “grand-students” quicker.
But it is a sort of red flag.
“Warning! You are still here but the students are new!” ”Been there, done that, won’t work”! “There is still so much you need to learn”!
I think Nathan Ghall’s moving and powerful post Commemorating helped me listen to these warning signals. When I read the post my first thought was:
Oh, wow, this post should be hung in every teachers’ staff room, to remind those of us who are not Special Ed teachers to respect our students with special needs, and to celebrate what they ARE able to do, the people they are, and NOT what they cannot do.
And then I realized it. Who am I to talk about others, what about me? Every year the students who turn up in my Special Ed classes have more and more additional issues to deal with in their lives, besides their hearing problem (learning disabilities, emotional problems, visual impairments, broken homes etc.). I need to remind myself over and over that I must work at looking for the students’ stronger points, even though with some students these points seem to be quite difficult to find at the beginning of the year. There’s something overwhelming about meeting a large group of students with so many “issues”.
It also made me think of how much I need to continue renewing and changing my teaching practices. Despite the fact that my life would be easier if I recycled more materials from year to year. Yet when I do, those dangerous feelings of impatience with a student for not knowing something I’ve taught so many times (but to others!) fight to reach the surface.
So perhaps my battles for implementing technology and trying all sort of things will lead to me being ready to teach many more students whose parents I have also taught. I still have at least 11 more years to teach and there are more students coming my way!