Thursday, March 30, 2017
3 Questions They Didn't Answer in the College of Education
The amazing thing about teaching is the learning curve. This is my 24th year teaching and I still learn each and every day. As I tell my teachers in training, there is so much to learn, you won't get it all in college nor in your first year of teaching or even upon your years of teaching. You will never arrive; you only evolve.
What do you do when a student has a seizure in your class? My instinct was to responses- call the nurse or jump across the desk to catch her. Fortunately a colleague who knew what to do, was in the room and was closer to the student. He saved her from a possible concussion. He knew that we needed to immediately start timing it. He knew exactly how the student needed to be treated. It was serendipity, the time that this teacher, an ESE teacher, just happened to stop by. Now I know what to do--I learned that this week.
How do you carry on with your class after you lose a student? Sadly I've only had this happen once and that is one too much. About 5 years ago, my principal came to see me after school. She asked me about one of my students and his mindset. The initial thought was that he committed suicide. He didn't. The parents courageously shared that he did due to autoerotic asphyxiation. I say courageous, because this most often is misreported as a suicide due to the nature of the death. What we painfully learned was how a class moves forward when we lose a valued member. It is especially tough because counselors were there only one day. We began to move forward the next day. Each of his 7 teachers did it differently. It was a tough journey; I hope to never have to do that again.
How can we best serve our students, when the things we take for granted, are alien to our student's experiences? Students come to school and we truly are flying blind as Chris Crutcher has eloquently shared. Some of my students are homeless. We learn about the statistics in the books, but then we are confronted with reality, their stories, When parents don't show up, it doesn't mean they don't care. It means that they are sometimes taking care. I found that, as most teachers also have, keeping food, toiletries and even clothes in my classroom can be a difference maker. There are real reasons why kids don't have their paper and pencil each and every day. We shouldn't let those be become obstacles to learning. This was one of my first lessons when I first started teaching ELLs students in 1993.
Sadly these circumstances for some of our most fragile students has not changed over the tenure of my work nor will my opportunities to learn from my work cease. What has changed is my ability to take what I have learned in the moment and better serve my students. What have you had to learn in the teaching moment?