This was our first week back to school. I was eager and excited, as always, to see and meet my new students. I sensed the anticipation of a new and rewarding school year in the air as my students walked into their new classroom. They were smiling, nervous, and showing signs of relief, as they learned that I would add unexpected humor and fun to diminish their stress throughout the day.
As the first and second days of school concluded, I had that conversation in my head that I have every single year: "Do you see what I see?" As a parent of a son and a daughter, I have kept my eyes open to signs of struggle, signs of success, and any signs that may have indicated that either of them needed more than just a nudge to get through school. They have both completed high school and are continuing their educations in college. Struggling from time to time, but nonetheless, they have pushed through obstacles and asked for support when needed. As a teacher for 25 years in elementary education, I keep my eyes open the same way for my students, but I have to ask every year, "Do you see what I see?"
Parents are special, as are their children. Many times, I have had parents who tell me that their child is not the same at school as they are at home, and they are shocked when I tell them their child is wonderful!!! Then, quite often, I have had the parent who says, "I don't know what you're talking about, my child doesn't do anything like this at home." This response follows my question, "What can I do to help your child to perform and succeed, because at this point he/she is showing signs of serious struggle and conflict in my classroom?" "Do you see what I see?" Of course not! According to the parent, this child goes home, does chores, does homework and then loses it before returning to school, speaks respectfully to parents, and shows responsibility and love in the household. They are just not doing as they're told at school, and they don't know why or what to do about it. Thus, they tell the child to stop being lazy and to apologize to me for not doing the right thing!
What am I to do when the parent does not see what I see and does not think there could be anything wrong? What am I to do when a child says he doesn't care if he never gets any rewards because they don't matter? What am I to do when a child says she doesn't do her work because it's not fair that she has to do it??
What am I to do when a child has full academic potential and ability, but the rage that distracts him from my positive intentions overpowers him and speaks louder than any of my lessons?
My husband says I will figure it out, I always do. My sister says that there should be someone at the school who can help kids who struggle like this. My mother says she feels sorry for me and hopes it gets better. My coworkers all say to focus on the positive, keep reaching out to the parents, and know that one day that child will remember what I tried to do.
I say, "Do you see what I see?"
I believe that some children have become immune to the realities of our school system because they're immersed in a virtual world that allows them to change their virtual reality with the simple click of a thumb on a plastic controller. I believe that if I'm not careful, I might say or do something that triggers the mental device to delete me from their consciousness. I guess I need to put myself on a video game and teach through technology. I need to show them how to conjugate verbs, solve for the variable in algebra, identify the causes/effects of war, and value the empowerment that human suffering had on the building of our country! Should I do this through degrading music, violence, and superhuman powers that defy all mankind?
DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?