Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Difference

This year I am enjoying having my own classroom with 25 delightful students.  My class is composed of 17 boys and 8 girls.  When I learned this is the beginning of the year, I was slightly put on edge with the thought of having so many little active 5 year old boys, but they have turned out to be remarkably well-behaved with a great deal of self-control. My class is also reading at a higher level than my previous students.  Of course there are a few outlier students: the young girl recently immigrated from Mexico who turned 5 at the end of August, the boy whose dad is incarcerated and that is all he can think about, and students with special needs.

What I have found with my students is that their parents this year are stepping up and making the difference.  Where before parents were hard to reach, I have parents consistently checking their child's backpack, sending notes with questions, and reading to their children at home.  In some of the single-parent households, I have moms and dads stepping up to do double duty, never faltering to be there for their child, and especially never making up excuses for their child or parenting.  On the other hand, I have one student whose parents make excuses for their parenting and for his behavior.  His mother is a cancer survivor, but the illness has seemed to cripple her spirit as much or more than her body.

The difference made in a child's life lies first and foremost with the person or people who love and care for them the most.  As a teacher, as much as I care for that child, I can never replace what a parent has done or failed to provide for their child.  The parents and children in my classroom this year have taught me that all students truly are capable of achieving great things when no one makes excuses for them.  Empathy shouldn't be construed into excuses or enabling.   Our students are capable of achieving greatness.