There’s just one more week until school is over. I would say let’s finish with a bang, but since Hurricane Irene started the school year, I’ll settle for receding peacefully into summer.
You’d think with the final countdown to summer, I wouldn’t have too much to worry about. But I’m a mother -- worrying doesn’t take a break for school vacations. I have more to think about than poison ivy, sunburn, and my kid whining, “But there’s nothing to dooooo.” I have to think about next year.
In elementary school especially, your child’s teacher can make or break the year. Even more importantly, he or she can make or break your child. The relationship between an elementary school student and his teacher is a sacred one. It’s much like a parent-child relationship…with a few major differences. Both need to have a delicate balance between discipline and affection. However, teachers can’t “give in” like parents do, because there are 15 more kids right behind him itching to break the rules, too. Whereas we parents have an 18-year agenda that absorbs more of our mistakes, teachers have a 10-month curriculum with little room for error. If we lose our patience and scream at our kid, we feel bad. If teachers lose their temper, they could lose their job.
Just as those who don’t have children can’t imagine all that goes into parenting, the same can be said for teachers. Teachers aren’t babysitters. They are people who are highly educated and experienced at what they do, especially in our Mansfield schools. To think just because we know our kids, we know how to teach them is absurd. (Just try helping them with homework if you need proof!) Why not go into our doctor’s office and tell the pediatrician how to diagnose? After all, they’re dealing with our children, too.
Teaching is a skill, not merely common sense. Because I have a writing background, I volunteer in my son’s classroom every week to help some of the students with their writing lessons. I love helping the kids, but in no way do I equate the guidance I give with what their teacher does. Not only am I in awe of her abilities, but of her energy. I leave with my heart happy but my head buzzing after a mere 90 minutes. She has five more hours (and four more days) and I’m pretty sure she must also have some magic dust to do what she does so well.
You can’t phone it in at that level. Teachers have to show up every day, in a good mood or bad, feeling well or not, and be as committed in September as they are in June. The special education professionals at school eat their lunch with their students or have meetings during that time. The secretarial staff come in early and stay late to be there to answer our myriad of questions surrounding the school day. We have come to expect this level of service from our Mansfield schools, but do we fully appreciate it?
My son graduates second grade having learned more reading, writing, math, and science skills. But he also leaves feeling proud of himself, cared for, still possessing a deep love of learning, and believing his teacher is the best one in the whole world.
With one more week of school left, the seed of anxiety (rational or not) about next year begins, while my gratitude for this past school year is abundant. I hope I speak for many when I say thank you to the Mansfield principals, teachers, professionals, staff, volunteers, and bus drivers for your hard work, dedication, and kindness to our children. We appreciate you!