What a Difference a Year Makes!

1st day of school

1st day of school – Kindergarten

Last year sucked.

For BR. For Ms. MMK. For me.

But I learned a lesson.

A good teacher makes all the difference.

Here I am a veteran teacher, and it took BR having a horrendous school year for me to learn the value of a teacher.


The problems went beyond the teacher. The administration, for the most part, was of little support or assistance.

Sending BR to school left Ms. MMK and I uncomfortable. He was not being treated right. I don’t mean physically.

His confidence was shaken, his reputation was damaged, and his progress was stunted.

Now BR would not recognize most of this or not at any meaningful level.  However, we saw this happening and did everything possible to work with the school to prevent it. But got nowhere.

And then the school year ended.

And a new one began.

It was a new year in many ways. Of course, it was a new grade (4th), but it was also a new school in a new school district.

We prepared BR in the best way we could. And we had outside assistance.

And we prayed.

We prayed that he would get back on track. We prayed that the teachers would be caring. We prayed that the administration would be supportive. We prayed that our bright, inquisitive, and playful child would once again flourish at school.

Wednesday was parent teacher conferences. Ms. MMK had the day noted on the calendar for months. She had met with the teachers and other school personnel on a couple of occasions, but this would be the first in-depth meeting in a couple of months.

We were anxious but hopeful. After all, we had not gotten the dreaded calls home. Plus, BR seemed different – happier, calmer, and content to go to school.

I joined the conference at 2:15 (I had to call in from work) – just a few minutes after it began. While I would have preferred to have been there, the message came through loud and clear.

BR was doing fantastic. He had bumps in the beginning, and he is not perfect now.  I wouldn’t believe it if they had said he was.

They noted that BR has fallen in line. He assists other students. He is doing well socially. He is comfortable sharing. He is learning.

One teacher after another showered him with praises.

While Ms. MMK and I were in separate locations, we felt the exact same way

Ms. MMK thanked the teachers multiple times. She said, “this is the best parent teacher conference I’ve ever been to.”  She was on the verge of tears – of happiness.

I was in an empty classroom and smiling widely. All I wanted to do was hug BR.

We know that BR has challenges and is not an easy child. We know he needs particular kind of teachers.

Now, we know that he can be a great student. More importantly, he knows that too.

Thank you to his teachers and all those who assist and work in conjunction with them.

What a difference a year makes!!!

A View from Behind the Teacher’s Desk

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

School has begun. It’s back to work for this high school English teacher. This is how the school year starts for me.

I look out at my students. I study them. Who am I working with? What makes them tic? What challenges do they have?

I see a young man in one of my senior English classes. He’s quiet, eager to do right. Yet, he’s scared and nearly shaking. When he talks, it’s clear that there are some issues he’s dealing with. He appears alone and fragile. I’ll have to be careful with him, sensitive.

The girl in my senior class is familiar. I taught her in the 10th grade. Her moods swayed like a bridge in desperate need of repair. The boys seemed scared of her. I liked her on her good days. She participated and was willing to learn. Her writing was inconsistent. Now, she’s a mom. She’s not the first senior I had with a child. Still, I worry for her and the child. How will she have time for school and a life?

There’s a rambunctious boy in my sophomore class. Seriously. His energy level is ridiculous. He clearly can’t handle himself. I’ve been told he’s a struggling student. I wouldn’t know. He has done no work yet. He is too busy pruning for laughs. I’ve already spoken to his mother. I hope it helps.

There’s a girl in my sophomore class. She’s short. And loud with seemingly no filter button.  Her work/participation has been weak so far. She seems more interested in strolling the hallways despite claims of injured feet. Then yesterday, she shared her journal entry. Her sister died last year of cancer. She could not make it to the funeral.  Maybe, there’s a way to get to her.

Every student has a story. At some point, I’ll learn all their stories. I’m going to be listening, reading their journals, and studying their behavior. Who are they? Who am I working with? How can I get the students to work to their potential?

This is what I see from behind the desk. It’s time to step out.