(They're) All My Children.

I see that child - the small one, the clumsy one, the big one, the shy one, sitting in the corner of my classroom longing for a friend.  I know him. He's the child who smiles and laughs at jokes that are shared at his own expense, the child who is seeking attention, friendship, acceptance and love. 
These are the children that I take particular care with each year; the ones I try to boost with an offhand positive comment meant for others to hear. They’re the ones I watch carefully from the corner of my eye, and the ones I steer gently toward a child or group that I know will accept them as one of their own.

Each year I search for those souls in my room- they’re not hard to find.  I wrap them as best I can in my protective arms, all the while hoping that the coming years in school will treat them well – but knowing in my heart that they may not. I try to show the rest of the class by example what is important - his character, her humor, his honesty, her intelligence and his talent.

That child who sits in my room that is too big for his age; the one who is too shy, too small, too loud or too clumsy?  The one who won’t speak, or talks too much or who is much too silly?  I know him.  I know him intimately.

He’s my child.

My child is the boy who will climb on the roof, fly down the hill on his bike, climb WAY too far up the tree, but is afraid to participate in class.   My child is the boy who collects insects in the summer, identifies their tracks, does science experiments in his room, but hates to read.  My child is the boy who didn’t look where he was going and stumbled over the recycling bin and fell flat on his face on the first day of school. He's the boy who fell down the stairs during the first fire drill of the year.
My child is the one who sleeps with the bathroom light on because he is a little afraid of the dark.  My child is the boy whose smile and sense of humor brighten our lives, but who just can’t keep his mouth shut at school!  He's the one who gets caught by the teacher but won’t tattle on the other children who have been participating in whatever mischief has drawn her attention.

As teachers, we know our mission; to ensure each child in our care makes significant academic progress during the school year.  However, we all know our most important charge of all.
To hold the hand of the child who doesn’t quite fit in, and gently guide him along the way.  And when he sits up a little straighter, when he laughs a bit louder, and smiles more often- we know.  We KNOW in our hearts that what we’ve done in that regard is even more important than our original mission. 

We have helped that particular soul be brave enough to fly.   


Steph said...

This post made me tear up. My best friend from childhood is a teacher and my college student daughter is studying to be an elementary teacher. God bless all the wonderful teachers!

Vodka Mom said...

To be honest, I cry a little every time I read it. It is so close to my heart. We look at EACH child each year, and say to ourselves- THAT is my kid in someone else's room.

roth phallyka said...

God bless all the wonderful teachers!


absees123s said...

As I begin my 36th year of teaching, there have been so many memories of "my kids" throughout the years. Thank you so much for posting this. I'm thankful to do what I do!

Michelle said...

What a wonderful post. I am hoping there are thousands of teachers like you. How fortunate for any child to be in your room for a year.

Bless you for caring so much