Learning The Art of Teacherly Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 26 2012

Losing Sight of “Normal?”

Let’s just start with a few things a visitor may have seen and heard in our classroom today:

1.  Me, smiling and hugging a student (or really, squeezing him to get him to stay in one place for 5 seconds), and half-telling, half-singing to him, “I love you. But sometimes… You. make. me. Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.” Yes, it is my own version of the Gwen Stefani song…

(If you don’t remember Gwen’s 2005 Hit : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgjkth6BRRY)

2.  Me, directly quoting my own mother while trying to get two boys to stop their back-and-forth “He started it” match…  When I say directly quoting, I mean, my mother said this to my brother and I nearly everyday of our “fighting years.”
The “Mom Statement” slipped out before I could catch myself, and I gave them my best “I don’t care who started it, I’m ending it.” Total mom move.
Too often, in a classroom full of children, the “mom-isms” find their way to my vocal cords before I can even take a breath…

As I am thinking about these two instances in particular, I am starting to wonder… I am actually losing it…?  Have I lost sight of “normal?”
Those cannot be “normal” occurrences, right?  Do I even know what the average classroom at a Mastery school is supposed to look like?  Not really… I mean, there is really no such thing as “normal” in my mind, but when I think about it, I seem to have completely lost sight of how a regular education classroom is supposed to look and function.
Am I okay with that?  Yep. Completely.

While I may no longer know what the “average” 3rd, 5th, or 6th grade student should be able to do, or how they should be acting, I can tell you one thing:  No one knows those boys’ current abilities and academic and behavioral goals better than me.
In the past 8 weeks, I have seen each of them at their best, and at their worst.  I have seen them be successful, and I have seen them struggle.  I have seem them excited, happy, sad, angry, frustrated, annoyed, joyful, and simply not feeling good.  I know where they are right now, and I know where they need to be.  Do I know exactly how they are going to reach their goals?  Of course not.  That is Special Education; trial periods of interventions, new techniques, new ideas to help them, and constantly adjusting your own instruction and support for each individual student.  That is why I take my time, and actually really enjoy, writing each of their 30-40 page Individual Education Plans.  By writing these plans, I get to know them even more closely.  I analyze their progress, their scores on all the constant assessments we take, and see how far we could possibly push them in one academic year.

Are any of their goals “normal” for the current grade they are in?  No.
Does this mean I have lost sight of “normal?”  To others, maybe.  To me, not at all.

Singing to a child and telling him I love him, but that he makes me crazy sometimes; I’d call that a normal day.  Let’s be honest, when I have to say his name about 238 times during a 30 minute math activity, I think any “normal” teacher would be going a little “Bananas” at that point.  And the fact that I’m pulling out my “mom statements”… When working with children, no matter the age, that will always be “normal.”  They need that type of love.  Not all the time, but when they are acting like brothers in the backseat of the SUV… “Mom” is the normal role to quickly take on.

Let’s face it, there is no such thing as “normal”… We are all a little B-A-N-A-N-A-S.  Some more than others… And some, like me, just get driven there daily, with a car full of bickering boys…

I don’t know if anyone will be saying, “Thank Goodness it’s Friday” louder than me tomorrow.
Not to mention, my wonderful parents, and favorite yellow lab, will be here tomorrow night! :)

Philly Photos of the Week:

“PHALL” has fully arrived! :)

Some photos from FDR Park..

FDR Park

 

 

 

 

A handmade tissue paper flower, personally delivered by the student who drove me Bananas.
Doesn’t that just melt your heart?

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    Dare to Teach with Love… Never cease to Learn.


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