September 9, 2010

Touching Musings from a Tough Child

One of my little darlings is quite the handful.  (Well, MANY are handfuls, but one in particular keeps me up at night)  This child has frequent "temper tantrums" throughout the day, triggered sometimes by the tiniest thing, and other times by nothing at all.  He will throw his papers off his desk, slump down, and "grumble" to himself for about 5 minutes.  I typically ignore, or ignore as best as I can...Anyways, this child can barely read.  He has been at 8 schools by 5th grade and obviously has an unstructured home life to put it mildly.  He is disorganized and easily frustrated.  He does not have an IEP, although he would probably qualify for one, because he has never been in one place long enough to be truly evaluated.  So you can imagine that, even when he drives me freakin' crazy, I have a soft spot in my heart for him.  Deep, DEEP down.

Today he refused to start his writing.  I gave him some time to start on his own, but then decided to try stepping in.  With most "grumbly" kids, I would hesitate before offering them help mid-pouting, as it may inadvertently reinforce an idea that pouting will get them what they want.  But I had a pretty good idea that this child had given school everything he had to give that day, and that writing was just too tough for him at that point.  I offered to write the words for him if he would dictate, and he jumped at the chance.  For some kids, the ones with serious decoding gaps, that is really what they need.  Anyways, this child then proceeded to dictate paragraphs about how wonderful his mom is.  He "wrote" that she is a single mom with three kids, and works so hard to support them.  He wrote about how she gets them everything they need, feeds them, and supports them.  He wrote about how much he loves her for all she does for him and his two siblings.

I was in awe of this child.  Sometimes, in situations like this especially, it's easy to get caught up in how much there is to teach a child that's as behind as this one.  We get so caught up in the daunting task ahead of us that we forget how much there is to learn as a teacher.  There is so much we can learn from the children in our classrooms if we are open to it.  Today I was in awe of a child who can barely read, who wants for so much, but who, at age 10, appreciates his mother in ways many adults never do.  I am honored that this child trusted me enough to let me put his words to paper for him, and am humbled by the maturity he showed through them.  He has experienced things that I will never know or understand.  He has been let down by many, many people.  Yet he still has faith in his mother, and realizes what a tough job she has.  Even though the rest of our day together was anything but easy, it was all worth it to share this special moment.  I teach for moments like this.


  1. I teared up reading this. Once again you have illustrated through your words what an caring and compassionate teacher you are. This child is lucky to have you in his life.

  2. Awww, what a special moment! Kids are amazing.


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