It’s been an overwhelming school year. The fact it’s only a little over halfway over makes it even more surreal.
My son was kicked out of his kindergarten at the end of September. He was showing aggression toward other kids, and at age five, we couldn’t tell if it was a delayed development in impulse control or something more serious like ADHD.
In less than a month of kindergarten, the school asked us to pack up my son’s belongings and not return until his behavior changed. I couldn’t believe how quick his kindergarten teacher was to give up on him, especially since we were working with a private behavioral specialist and attending parenting classes to address the problem.
The next day, we enrolled him at our zoned public school and held our breath as we walked through the halls. I prayed fiercely that morning.
“Please be the right fit for my son. Please help my son’s behavior. And PLEASE connect us with the right teacher.”
It’s hard to know if a teacher is good right off the bat. I’m fairly intuitive when it comes to sensing someone’s energy, but when I first met Mrs. R, my guard was up. I told her about his history, I connected her to our behavioral specialist, and I checked in regularly.
One day, after an especially frustrating incident at school, Mrs. R looked at me with the resolve of a fighter.
“We are going to work with your son, and we will get through this,” she said. “He is a really good kid.”
The incidents didn’t stop, but they went down significantly. I couldn’t believe how a change in environment could make such a difference. But the difference wasn’t the environment, in fact. It was Mrs. R. My son’s teacher earned his respect quickly and showed him she cared.
She talked to us about what worked for us in the past, what his motivators were, and how he responded . . . and she changed her teaching approach with him accordingly. She got down to his level to talk. She did a 5:1 ratio of encouragement to negative interactions.
We started the year with a child who hated school, and now we have a child who enjoys it. But more importantly, we have a little boy who is learning how to communicate, growing and maturing with adults who are determined to see him through it all. Good days, bad days, and in between, I know Mrs. R isn’t going anywhere.
To Mrs. R and every good teacher—you don’t just make a difference for our children. You are the difference in our children. A teacher can make or break a child’s classroom experience.
Thank God for all the Mrs. Rs out there.