Saturday, November 22, 2014

Common Ground

I do read other people's blogs. Sometimes it's my wife. Sometimes it's one of those featured in my documentary debut, "Friends We Haven't Met Yet," like "The View From Farview Farm." The truth is, maintaining a daily presence on Al Gore's Internet tends to keep me from reading someone else. There are so many clever, interesting voices out there, sometimes I have to put my hands over my ears and go "nanananananana" until I can be sure that they all go away long enough for me to hear myself.
Then again, sometimes it's nice to know that all those voices in my head are not my own. I do like it when those voices that I choose are harmonious with my own. I read some sports blogs, but mostly the ones that will tell me what I already know. I read some film blogs, but generally those that sound like reviews I might have written myself. Reading opinions other than my own tends to confuse me or make me upset, so if I get through those first few lines and I find myself rolling my eyes or gritting my teeth, I move on. I find that reading the words of other educators or parents can be a dicey thing. Sometimes I get sucked in by the story, only to find that it is actually a propaganda piece for some new program or curriculum that aims to save our next generation from the missteps of the one preceding. I read one last week that made me feel like I was pointed in the right direction: "Dear Parent: About THAT kid..." If you don't feel like reading the whole thing yourself, I can tell you that it is about how we, teachers, have to juggle when it comes to talking to parents about "that kid." The one who seems to be in trouble all the time. The one who bothers every other child in the room. The one who makes them cry by poking or prodding or pinching or cursing or just making the learning stop.
We, teachers, can't tell parents all the reasons why "that kid" is making education such a daily challenge. We can't tell them confidentially of otherwise all the ways that this child has struggled to make it to this point. We understand that it is our job as head of the classroom to make sure that everyone is in their places with bright shining faces, ready to learn. "That kid" is not. But that doesn't mean "that kid" won't be ready. Soon. And we want to be there when that magic moment occurs. Sometimes it takes a year. Or two. Sometimes "that kid" finds their way out into the world and you, as a teacher, get to read about "that kid" in the local news. And when you do, you remember the good things. By contrast, I've been happy to greet "that kid" upon their return to our school, after years at this middle school or that high school, to find "that kid" found a path that worked for them. Some teacher along the line got to them. An afterschool program helped them get into some sport or activity that gave them an outlet for all the ya-yas they couldn't use up in second grade. Or fifth. Now they return to say "how's it going?" but what they're really saying is "sorry about that part when I was crushing crayons into the carpet. I wasn't at my best." That kid won't say it, but I'm always happy to see them.
By the way, I don't agree with everything Miss Night has to say, but it's nice to have that common ground.

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