We all know how wonderful it is to get the “good teachers.” We all know those feelings of gratitude and relief when our children are assigned into classrooms ruled by these magical, angelic beings.
Sometimes, we just luck out and and realize – only later on – that they’ve been graced with an amazing teacher. Just the right teacher, one who can inspire and guide all the kids to learn. Not just academically, either, but also in how to become good, kind, caring people.
The other day, my son yelled at a teacher like this. Lost his temper, and flared out at her.
Needless to say, we were appalled. First, she’d not only gone out of her way to help him, but also worked hard to understand him. Not just him, of course, but all of her students with AS. Secondly, she was his favorite teacher. Still is, in fact.
There are days like this.
Days where all of our parental hard work disappears in a puff of temper. Days when emotion and overwhelmed senses grab control and our kids act out.
But understanding doesn’t really make it easier, at times. Because there’s a reason for an act doesn’t always excuse the act itself. And it’s a little like ringing a bell, or breaking an egg. One can’t really undo either. How can you scoop the egg back into the shell? Or unring that bell?
Actions have consequences.
After telling me about what happened in class that day, from his point of view, we talked a little bit about her point of view. Had anyone else ever yelled at her before? Any of the other kids? No, of course not.
Was she a nice teacher? Fair and kind? Did she treat her students well? Yes, of course she did.
Had she ever yelled at him like that? Or treated him poorly? No, never.
Did he think that maybe her feelings might be hurt? That she treats him well, and then he turns around and yells at her? Maybe called her names? Insulted her?
At this point, realization hit him. After all, he’s not a bad person; quite the opposite. But seeing things from another person’s point of view is a struggle for kids like him. It’s difficult and requires work. It also, unfortunately or not, involves some emotional pain as one realizes that yes, our actions can hurt people we care about.
Even if we never meant to hurt them at all.
Thankfully, this amazing teacher called me that evening, and we discussed what had happened that day. I assured her that we were just as appalled as she was, and that there would be consequences; after all, while we may understand that a behavior (or meltdown) may occur, that doesn’t always make it right.
It does not excuse lashing out at people.
She knew he would be remorseful. She knew he would regret his actions once he calmed down and reflected (or was helped to reflect) upon them. She also wanted me to let him know that she did not hold grudges. That he would start clean on Monday.
What a tremendous gift.
There was an apology letter. There was an in-depth talk about behavior, sensitivity for feelings, calming techniques, and respect for authority. There were consequences in the form of lost privileges. After all, one has to deal with consequences, and while that may be a poor substitute for someone’s hurt feelings, it’s the best we could do.
Thankfully, the best teachers don’t hold grudges. They work hard to understand and cope with everyday difficulties. They open their hearts to our challenged children.
I hope they know how much we appreciate them.
NOTE: Thank you so much to every one of you golden teachers out there. You touch the lives of children everywhere, and like ripples on a pond, your kindness reaches out to affect the rest of us. Even if you never see or meet us, the parents, please know that your actions, patience, and hard work go neither unnoticed nor unappreciated.