Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Great-full moments

Have you ever had one of these? Yes, you can be grateful. But have you had a great-full moment? I had one today. I wanted to share it with you.

If you have read my profile or even the subtitle to my blog page, you know I am a teacher, a Family and Consumer Science teacher AKA Home Ec. teacher. I'd love to go into the depths of my struggles to be taken as a serious discipline but that is not today's subject. Today was a day that in receiving a note, it made me smile and think to myself THIS is why I teach.

At the workplace, we all sometimes question ‘what the hell made us choose this line of work?’ When things weigh heavily on our shoulders questions like these arise. But when you get a note from one of your 'groupies' like I did, it all makes sense; you make peace again with your career choice.

Sometimes teachers get groupies. Don't confuse teacher groupies with teacher's pet. I am not talking about the kids who have all the right answers for teacher. Teacher groupies can be quiet in class for they know their time to shine is when you are having one on one time. TG's are kids who want to eat lunch with you. They want to hang out in their room after school. They want to talk about nothing important, really. They are eager to help you when you need them to just because they WANT to be a help to you, no matter what the task…even cleaning out a closet and organizing it. (She even came back the next day and asked if I had another closet that needed organizing. LOL)

NOW, if you are a parent look at my ‘groupie’ for a minute from my perspective. What astounds me is that this is not one of those at-risk students who have no one at home. Her parents get home between 4-6. She gets great grades. She does swim team and track. She designed the phone directory cover for our school. She tells me of the many wonderful social and recreational things her family does. She also has a great relationship with her 6th grade sister who hangs with us at times. She plays with the young children in her neighborhood and makes money babysitting. She was showered with wonderful gifts at Christmas; they have a farmhouse in the country where the family grows grapes to sell for wine. She still listens to Radio Disney, they have only basic cable, has dial-up for Internet, yet has a cell phone (as does her sister). They are in the process of renovating their home as they explain why they still have basic cable/dial up. Yeah a real problem child, right?

When I see and hear about all the things she makes (foods, her clothes/dolls clothes, baby blankets, sock monkeys, ipod covers, phone holder….) I immediately am impressed and say “wow, what did you mom or dad think of what you made?” She shrugs and says “they aren’t impressed with my skills anymore, I guess nothing surprises them anymore as to what I can do” I thought to myself how sad. She does such extraordinary things for a kid her age and she isn't getting the recognition she deserves. She has this wonderful life and the family is so busy doing “things” that perhaps my groupie is not getting the affirmation she needs and seeks it from me. We had a conversation about her future career choices she had in mind for herself. She said she wanted to be a PE, math or FACS teacher. My only advice at the time to her was to be DOUBLE certified in two areas for job security. I’d work on converting her to be a FACS teacher later. LOL When I asked her if she has conversation with her parents about her career ideas she told me that her dad said that being a FACS teacher was fine….BUT she would probably change her mind after college. She said, she could tell her dad wasn't supportive. Sigh.

So my groupie wrote this thank you note to me (BTW, a thank you note is something WE had to do when we were kids…. Today’s generation isn’t note writers. They’re texting these days, not emailing like the adults do and certainly NOT writing handwritten notes.) listing all the things we’ve worked on after school and she wanted to express her gratitude for it. She included a P.S. how her dad was speechless over the apron we made after school and that she was becoming quite a woman. I told her 'maybe your dad is seeing that your FACS teacher plans are serious now.'

Bottom line…. Any of you parents out there, keep in mind…. that whatever you give and provide for your child…it doesn’t matter…what they want is YOU, your time, your conversations, your attention …your positive reinforcement. It’s not the fancy cell phones or trips to amusement parks. It’s the relationship WITH you they want. Who’s to know what would become of my groupie, if I thought ‘oh she’s going to be fine' and didn’t give her the time she wants from me after school.

What I DO think is what I have here is a Future FACS teacher. I can only hope. But more importantly, she is the biggest sweetheart and I can't possibly look her in the face and not do things with her after school. Just telling her I have a meeting and can't meet with her breaks my heart. We have a mentor/mentee program at our school and I always have an 8th grader for a mentee. My groupie asks me if I would be HER mentor early this year and I said without hesitation, “For next year, ABSOLUTELY. But this year you are going to be my ‘mentee-in-training.’ What she doesn’t realize yet, that I am already her mentor- have been since her first year.

Relationships like this are GREAT…. Doing whatever you can to make a child’s transitional pubescence years become FULL of experiences and precious memories!!!

Find YOUR ‘great-full’ moment today!!!

1 comment:

Karen Babcock said...

Wow, is this true!! Having gone through middle school with three boys, I often saw the kind of kid you describe here. I would sometimes feel guilty that I couldn't provide all the "perks" that the other kids seemed to have. I finally figured out that it doesn't matter - what they want is me :o) I have never been so proud as I was before Christmas when I asked them what they wanted and they said, "We just all want to be together!" Guess I've done my job :o)