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Mom's Time Out

So you have decided to become a teacher

Mary Angel

(7/2014) So you have decided to become a teacher. My only question would be what is your reason? I know it is the end of the school year and many teachers may read this and think why now. The now would be explained by my heart. I have four children who have completely different public school experiences. I have already mentioned that I homeschool the two youngest. Now I want to discuss the qualities that I feel make a fabulous public school teacher. My hope is that just a few public school teachers read this and make a change, a change for the children.

My kids remember the teachers who, arenít easy, but care. My son remembers the gifted and talented teacher who came to his IEP meeting and spoke on his behalf. She pointed out that what his regular classroom teacher was missing was that his writing wasnít un-insightful, it was quite the contrary. He was writing in a way that was requiring the reader to think, and in the 2nd grade this was unexpected. In this case I would ask teachers to look past what they expect of a child and see where they are in their actual education. Please realize that you are going to have kids who are above and below grade level. Make a choice, when you realize this, to get them the help they need. Or a step further would be to have available to them some advanced work. Provide them with something that will challenge them and provoke advanced thinking from them.

On the other hand this same son, now in high school has a teacher who stays after school to offer study sessions for the kids who may be struggling with the advanced curriculum. This teacher informed me before the school year started that he would do everything he could to make sure a student would do well in his class. His priority was that the studentsí learn the information even if it required some extra time (or even creativity) from him. If a student had a desire to do well (even an inkling of a desire) he would do his best to help them succeed. I was amazed; this man who has a family of his own was putting my sonís education at the forefront of his mind. I am not implying that a teacher should forget the obligation they have to their family and their life; I am simply saying that it is astounding to see a teacher who puts in the extra effort to teach their children.

On the other hand I have a daughter, who I am homeschooling, who has been evaluated by the public school system. They have said she is in fourth grade but has been evaluated as reading at a first grade level. I was in shock, however they werenít. I was informed that she would be eligible for zero services from the public school system. I was lucky to have several very caring ladies who gave me some tools to try to help her, but if she was in public school she would receive zero services to help her reach her current education level. She would be overlooked partially because she is advance in so many other areas. My first question was why anyone hasnít noticed this before (I had many speculations) but I would ask in the future that teachers pay closer attention to this. That they would ask themselves, "do I have a student who is behind or ahead of the average?"

My third example would be my son who seems to be in the middle. He is making ends meet. In elementary school he was in advanced math. Every year since fourth grade he has dropped a level in math. Every day that he comes home from school we have to go over his math work. We discuss what he has learned in math and within 15 minutes, or so, he grasps what he didnít grasp at school. So, I guess in this case I would ask what has changed that he is dropping a level every year in math. Why do I have to reteach almost everything he learns at school? He recently took a test and did much better than usual. When I asked him why he said because he had missed the test and this was a retake that he had to do in the library. He said he wasnít as distracted and was able to concentrate more. When he shared this with a teacher they simply acknowledged that he was speaking, not taking note to the importance of this discovery. However one of his teachers did do the math, so to speak, and started having him sit in an area of the classroom with less distractions and told him if that didnít work he could go to the library where they have a quiet room for test taking. WOW, this teacher took the time to listen and take a step to help my son help himself. My son then asked his other teacher if he could do the same and they all agreed.

In many schools the teachers feel they canít make a move without an IEP (Individualized Education Program). This is something that is put in place after there is a diagnosis for a child; it is meant to help the childís education because they have a medical reason for that help. This makes total sense but puts the teachers in a lot of red tape and many times feeling their hands are tied. Then there are the teachers who are so rigid that without this IEP they wonít move a muscle to do anything extra. Lastly there are the teachers who think outside the box and think only of the children. Of course it is a job and they want the paycheck (which by the way is usually too small), but they look past that and have a deep desire to see our children succeed in life. These are the teachers that I want to acknowledge and say THANK YOU!

Read other articles by Mary Angel