Fandango’s Dog Days of August

Today’s theme is “a lesson you learned.” What is a lesson that you learned along the way? How did you learn the lesson? Who did you learn it from? How did that lesson change your life, it at all? https://fivedotoh.com/2020/08/21/fandangos-dog-days-of-august-21/

My lesson

When I got my first teaching job I had no idea what kind of school I was asking to work in. All I knew then was that I wanted a teaching job so badly and I had applied to every town within commuting distance. When I showed up for my interview I met the principal in her office which was also the tiny kitchenette. The school was in an old Victorian house in a very poor end of the city, very economically disadvantaged. The place was fairly quiet. She interviewed me and practically hired me on the spot. I had all the credentials and the demeanor to fit the job.

Jump ahead to my first day: I walk into my classroom which is a tiny room about 12′ X 8′. There were three kids sitting around a table and someone watching the kids while I got situated. “Where are the teaching materials?” no response. “What am I supposed to teach them?” no response.

Cutting the story short here, because I could write and write, it was a Clinical Day Program for emotionally disturbed children who were socially and behaviorally inappropriate for public schooling, as they had worn out all other interventions. Wow, I didn’t know that even existed!

So, I “love” my new job. I really did and I was getting in shape both restraining children who were physically aggressive or chasing “runners” down the street. There was this one boy, we will call him Charlie. He was a spoiled boy, his mother coddled him every minute of every day. His behavior was horrendous, physical, verbal, you name it. The mother “yes’ed” us to death and nothing improved. We had a staff meeting one day to discuss what to do next as he was getting bigger (in 4th grade almost my height, 5’3″). We were talking, thinking, brainstorming.

Being a new teacher, especially with this population, I made a comment like this: “If only his mother did something. She is half of the problem if not all of it. Does she even discipline him at home?”

Silence.

My principal looked at me and said, “You cannot judge the parents. You have no idea what they are going through and although we have their kids for 6.5 hours a day, they had them the rest of the 24 hours. They are challenged economically and some have their own psychiatric issues. You will never know what they go through unless you go through it in your own life.”

Well, that shut me up.

It also helped give me a new perspective on the kids, their families, and my role. You don’t know what people go through behind closed doors.

Years later, my son was bullied and displayed some of the behaviors I dealt with as a teacher. It really kicked me in the ass and I have NEVER forgotten what I was told. That day I became a better person.

©2020  CBialczak

13 Comments

  1. I worked as a substitute teacher and I had several of those classes. I mean who learns Reading in High School, but these students could barely sit in their chairs with out being disruptive, so they never learned how to read. No child left behind let these students keep passing till they aged out of school or quit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh don’t even get me started! I absolutely hate that children are pushed through with a smile. It is such a disservice. I taught a special ed English class for freshman in high school. The kids, and I am not kidding, had never written a paragraph by high school let alone term papers! I used to tell the kids straight out that they should have never been pushed through. They would say I was mean. I would tell them they wouldn’t be struggling now if they had been held back until they learned what they needed.

      Liked by 1 person

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