When I was growing up, I could tell you all of the teachers that had a massive impact on my life. These are teachers that have my complete gratitude and admiration for everything that they did to help me succeed, even when I didn’t particularly care if I did or not. I remember them. I even hear their words in my head today, decades later, as an adult when I start doubting myself. They may not have known the massive impact that they had (have) on my life, but I know. A good teacher is someone that students will remember for a long time.
With all of my youngest child’s issues, I worried so much about him. I worried that teachers would see an IEP/504 and judge him before they get the chance to meet him. There’s a lot of clinical terms and concepts that they use to describe my sweet boy, but not a lot of them discuss the things that I think truly matter. Where they see “fidgety, inability to focus”, I see a child who’s focused on the things that matter to him. When they see “can’t control his actions”, I see a child who just gets so caught up in everything. I was always worried that things like his speech (now his writing issues) would mask how smart he was. That the teachers would dismiss him based on these perceived educational flaws and not focus on the bright and curious child that he is. Is he a handful sometimes? Oh, absolutely yes. But that kid is sharp and determined.
His first teacher was the one who actually helped write his IEP back in his first year of Preschool. She didn’t judge him. She figured out a way to teach to him. She remarked on how smart he was and encouraged other ways to work with him. His second teacher under the IEP, was the exact same. They were both sad to see him move on because he was a “smart and lovable little boy”. They got it. In Kindergarten, he still had some struggles with his anxiety issues but he seemed to be thriving. He was bullied, but the teachers seemed to take care of it anytime that I mentioned an issue. They were good to him.
This year was his biggest challenge yet, but I was fortunate to get a teacher that didn’t judge him on any shortcomings. She adjusted. She didn’t email me to tell me what to do or to berate me because she couldn’t control my child. She asked about what she could do to help him. We brainstormed ideas on how to approach him at school. She never once told me to change my style of parenting or what we did at home. She helped him get the help that he needed even before there was a 504 in place. And boy did she fight to make sure he got the help that he needed. Because, she took the time to get to know my son. She believed that this issue would prevent him from expressing what he knows, and that he was way too bright to be held back by this. She wanted to help.
Teachers want to help their students succeed. There may be some bad apples, but overall I have yet to meet a teacher that wasn’t willing to help my son out. They work tirelessly for our children and I think that they deserve the world for the things that they do for our children. I thank every teacher that has impacted my life and I know that anyone else who had that 1 teacher does too. Amazing teachers have an impact, not just for that year, but for the rest of their student’s life.