Even in a pile of @*&%, you'll find a rose. (And a mother who'll point it out...)

I’ve always said, when I have unusually challenging students, that THEY are whom the community pays me to teach.

They are the ones that truly help me earn my paycheck each month.  The gifted students, the great listeners, the voracious readers, the aspiring novelists and the scientists who teach ME a thing or two are always the ones that I’ve thought teach ME each year.  They’re the ones that learn in spite of me.
But the ones that push back, the ones that need the extra push, the ones that come with baggage almost too heavy to carry are the ones that keep me up at night and the ones that force me to reach deep inside and find that something special that will help them turn the corner in the classroom.

That’s how I really earn my money.

But this year – this lovely amazing year - I’m earning ALL the back pay and then some of next year’s.  It the perfect storm that comes once in a blue moon.  I know most of you know what kind of storm I’m talking about.

After a particularly tough start to the week last week, I made some drastic changes and worked hard to steer the boat in another direction.  It wasn’t easy.

On Friday I spotted the mother of one of my new charges walking back with her son after lunch. Parents often pop in to have lunch with their kids, and I have to give them a TON of credit. (Have you EVER been in a wackadoodle lunchroom?  Have mercy…)

She stayed in the hall as the kids walked into the classroom, and pulled me aside before she left.  I was a bit worried that she might bring up some stories that may or may not have come home about what may or may not have occurred in the classroom on any given day of this year.   Instead, she looked at me and smiled.

“I want you to know that Jack woke up today and said he couldn’t WAIT to come to school.”  She put a hand to her mouth,  “I hope I don’t cry. Sorry.  But he said he couldn’t wait to come and work on his writing.  He said he was a ‘writing machine’ and was so excited!”

I smiled, surprised, and tilted my head,  remembering what fun we had the day writing pumpkin stories with the bazillion pumpkins I received from a local farmer.  She continued,

“I just wanted you to know that he’s never been excited to come to school before.   Thank you.  I really just wanted to thank you.”  She smiled,  turned and walked down the hall.

I watched her as she walked and I smiled. 

That one moment -THAT moment- is what makes every sleepless night, every late night at school, every weekend spent in the classroom worth it.  

Jack WANTS to come to school.   And therefore, in spite of all that ails, so do I.

So do I.


Marissa said...

Smart woman. So glad she said something now instead of the end of the year :-)

Brian Miller said...

print it and put it on your mirror...for when you doubt or need it...smiles.

Carol said...

As teachers, it seems that too often we only hear from parents when something is wrong. How wonderful that she shared that with you now! I am also having one of "those" years and hearing from a parent at our book fair yesterday that her child was loving first grade got me through the day!

Linda M said...

Love it! And isn't it funny how we often aren't sure what they will say until they say it!

Have a great day steering the ship a better direction....

Cora said...

Awwww. That's so sweet.

ChiTown Girl said...

Haven't I asked you 100 times to stop posting stories that make me miss working?!

Pardon me while I wipe my eyes...

Now, I'm still waiting for you to reply to my email, Woman!!


SkylersDad said...

That was beautiful, and in my opinion should happen a whole lot more. We don't ever tell the teachers how great things are going, just when things are wrong.

Sue said...

Oh how our world needs more teachers like you my friend!!

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Oh, Vodka. I cried. I'm sitting a home angry with the world right now. I am just 2 weeks out of a coma and as weak as a baby and today I have just about had enough of all the cants I am pushing against. You just reminded me to stay on the path my journey is taking me. You just made me remember what happened to last week and why I have to suck it up and quit being such a baby. Last week I sent a message to a former student with apraxia that now I had speech therapy just like him. The year he and I had together was so hard but in the end a thing of beauty. His mom told me that he placed his hand on his big old 4th grade chest took a deep breath and said, Mi P---- b'lef in me. I b'lef in her.
Oh my heart! I'm working my butt off every day to get back to my kinders. How could I not, right?

Gigi said...

And you made me cry.

It's a wonderful thing when people take the time to tell you what a wonderful job you are doing - and unfortunately, it doesn't happen as often as it should.

Christina said...


I just cried as I read this post to my husband. We often check in with you and giggle with delight at your stories, but this one touched us.

We have a set of twins, one of the bebes is on the honors end of the spectrum. She is a procrastinator but is a list checker offer. The other bebe is on the other end of the spectrum, he is wickedly smart...I mean WICKEDLY smart but has learning challenges. It is heartwarming to see someone else find out that her wicked smart babe loves school early enough for it to matter most. Not when their sophmore year of high school starts.

Kudos to you Vodka! Keep on keeping on doing what you do! I delight in you triumphs and weep when you are in the dumps, but know you are doing the right thing for all of those tiny ones. Know that you may not here it often enough, all of those parents appreciate what you do.