A good teacher, a great teacher.

My family are all teachers. Mam, Dad, Brother, Sister-in-law, cousins, aunties, my two best friends. Having been surrounded by them all my life, I probably took them for granted. I saw how hard they worked , sure, but you know, no biggie, great holidays and all that. I was a bit of a teacher’s pet at School, eager to please, hardworking, clever. Whilst I had excellent teachers  who I remember still, I don’t think I was ever a massive challenge to them, nor really pushed them to their full capabilities.

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After this last year, though, I’ve realised the importance of good teacher. Maybe it’s the case that the bright kids don’t really need to be ‘taught’ so much as guided. But for kids like my son, a good teacher, a great teacher, can be the difference between falling behind and achieving your full potential.

Last September , my son began his second year in School. For context, he was 4 and a half when he started School the year before; the School has a cut off of  March birthdays and he is 4th March, so he is the youngest in his class. There are 19 boys in his class and 10 girls.

In his first year, I had been called in a couple of times by the teacher, a few playground incidents, the usual scuffles. Nothing of major concern.

I think it was the second or third day back at school in September when I received a call from his new teacher, expressing concerns about his behaviour and describing him as ‘violent.’ I was shocked and upset by this, but mainly put it down to settling back in after the long break.

The phone calls continued. Every week, two or three times a week. Negative reports on how he had behaved at playtime, during PE, during Art. I began to get frustrated. Why was she calling me with every misdemeanour? How could I do anything about it after the fact? It’s her job to discipline him at School; I was finding it difficult enough to manage his behaviour at home, without having to cope with an overspill from School as well.

I’m not really sure what the turning point was. When she turned from being his greatest critic to his greatest ally. Perhaps it was when, during the course of one of our many meetings, I began to tell her how much we struggled at home with his behaviour, and how I had approached my GP with my concerns. She then began to tell me of issues she had noticed, not just with his behaviour, but with his ability to focus , or complete a task. She also thought he had low self esteem, and was perhaps not bonding with his peers as he should. She had been watching him closely. She had not dismissed him as ‘the naughty boy’. She saw he was struggling and wanted to know why.

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As we continued to meet during the year, she told me about things she noticed about my son, and things she did to help him in class. ‘Body breaks’ where he does a quick burst of a few push ups to bring his energy back up; heavy lifting to release some energy and enable him to then focus on his next task more clearly; giving him a fidget to play with in his pocket; sitting on a special cushion, a little like a bean bag, so there is still movement under him , rather than sitting on a hard chair. She began to tell me not of his wrong doings, but of his strengths. How he was always approaching her to tell her about his weekend, or his sister, or showing her his shark project. She spoke of him with genuine affection, and tears sprang to my eyes. Here is someone who has his back, someone who likes him. It got to the point where I felt she understood him better than I did.

It was with her encouragement and support that I went back to my GP and asked for a referral to the Lucena Clinic, which is the local Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health service. At the end of this academic year, my son was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD. (I wrote about the process here)

And so yesterday we came to the end of this year (yes, 8 weeks of summer holiday here in Ireland, let joy be unconfined) and a new teacher in September. I don’t know who his teacher will be. For some reason the School carries a policy of springing it on you in September. Apparently this is to avoid lobbying by the parents, but for kids like my son it would really help with the transition to know in advance. Transitions are hard for him – and it turns out for me too. I had to stop myself from blubbing when I was thanking his teacher yesterday,  as I collected him on his last day.  I am apprehensive about him going into a new class, with a new teacher. Someone who will have to get to know him from scratch, and learn about his behaviours and how best to manage them. But at least now we have the diagnosis which acts as a starting point for understanding him.

I’m so grateful to his teacher for paying attention, for caring, for not dismissing him. For making it her business to help and support him through the school year. I’m not sure we would be where we are now if he had been assigned a different teacher last September. So here’s to great teachers – and their great holidays, the bastards!

standing ovation

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23 comments

  1. ‘She turned from being his greatest critic to his greatest ally’ – that’s really touching; that barrage of criticism must have been human kindness. So sad that you can’t keep these everyday heroes when you find one.

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  2. I want her to always be his teacher. what if his next one is rubbish ? Total chin wobble when I was giving her thank-you card yesterday.

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  3. Wow. This teacher was really wonderful and I am so happy that together you worked to recognise what your son needed most. That alone is a gift. There will be more gifts like her along his path, and you can always refer to her and bring her in the mix for any upcoming teacher meetings. Teachers really are so key to our kids foundations and they should be valued and treated as such. They are indeed the superheroes! #stayclassy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks , Lisa. She was really great , hopefully there will be more like her !

      Liked by 1 person

  4. this is great!! you don’t get many teachers who are willing to help. Normally the ‘naughty’ child is dismissed.
    Lx
    http://workingmumy.blogspot.com
    #KCACOLS

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  5. What a terrific teacher. Handcuff her to your son for the next 10 years and you’ll be fine. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great idea – should have thought of it earlier

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  6. Over Heaven's Hill · · Reply

    It really is amazing how important a good teacher is, especially in your son’s situation. Its just not right that he’s given this amazing support from a teacher who understands and can support him, only for them to be taken away from him when he needs them the most the following year. Our education system has a lot to answer for. She is now your ally though. She really sounds amazing so if you need to then definitely call on her.
    #KCACOLS

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    1. I’m sure when I was in primary school we had the same teacher for a few years – would really help the little ones I think .

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  7. Sounds like a great teacher! xx
    #KCACOLS

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  8. riverswritesblog · · Reply

    She sounds like a real diamond! It sounds like she also had your back and helped you a lot too. Sometimes, it just takes one person to see that there’s more than what meets the eye. I hope he gets another good teacher.. And his teacher will more than likely speak to his new teacher about the class too so they will have a bit of a heads up. Now that he has a diagnosis, hopefully things will start to become easier with the right support.

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  9. It so lovely to read a post about teachers thats so heart warming and positive. As a teacher myself, its not often I see them and your sons teacher sounds amazing. A good teacher should always experiment with ways of engaging students within their lessons and take time to get to know their students if they are going to progress well. Sounds like she did all that. #KCACOLS

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  10. Aw she sounds like an excellent teacher, definitely the kind of teacher I would like my son to have. I’m so glad she helped your son and gave him new techniques to use in order to focus more. Hopefully he can use these in his class for next year, I’m sorry they don’t tell you the teacher for the next year! That seems a little harsh. This post is really helpful because I hadn’t really thought about teachers all that much, but you’re right having a good teacher can make all the difference. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is really lovely to read and I hope if my daughter has any issues at school she has teachers that will help her to focus and progress. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What an amazing teacher, I so hope that my daughter is as lucky when she starts in September. My Mum was also a teacher and myself a teaching assistant so teaching is something I have grown up with, and I have met some amazing teachers over the years, and some who I feel were definitely in the wrong profession!! #brilliantblogposts

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    1. Yes , it’s a bit of a mixed bag isn’t it – but the good ones are really good . Hope your daughter is looking forward to school

      Liked by 1 person

  13. alisonlonghurst · · Reply

    So, so true. A great teacher can, quite literally, change a child’s life forever. It’s brilliant to read about your positive experience – a very interesting read. I really hope that the positive experience is repeated next year. Alison x #Brilliantblogposts

    Liked by 1 person

  14. carolcliffe · · Reply

    How lovely to have someone so ‘on your side’ and how lovely of you to recognise and celebrate that too. Hopefully she will pass on her wisdom to your son’s next teacher, and now that you have a diagnosis, there will be continued proper support for him going forward. It’s a shame that doesn’t extend to preparing him for the next school year. Our school has a ‘meet the teacher’ day next week where each class moves on to their new teacher and talks about what they have to look forward to next year. They also tell parents of children with additional needs well in advance of the others, so they can start preparing them where necessary. Perhaps you could mention this idea to your school for the future? #KCACOLS

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    1. Yes i just can’t really understand the rationale Of keeping it secret really. Thanks for reading

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  15. It great that he was able to have such a wonderful teacher! I only hope the same thing happens next year for you all. It really is amazing how big of a difference a good teacher can make on a kids life. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is just amazing! You don’t really get teachers like that anymore. What you said really stood out to me: “She turned from being his greatest critic to his greatest ally”. This is so lovely! Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. It is great having you here, 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What a lovely story. A good teacher, one willing to meet the student where they are, is an amazing gift. I’m studying to be a teacher and hope teachers like the one you described aren’t actually as rare as depicted in the comments. Teaching is a second career for me and from what I know academically, and as a parent myself, it seems like she was doing her job like it should be done – and with an ocean of kindness and caring behavior.
    P.S. I plan on sharing your post with my classmates as a reminder of what we should strive for everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s lovely – I’m delighted for you to share it . Good luck in your new career !

      Liked by 1 person

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