Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Letter to the Teachers Who Drove Me to Homeschool

The teachers from the first school-

To Mrs. T:
When Al started kindergarten it was such an exciting time. After two years of HeadStart I felt he was ready for full day kindergarten. Less than a month after starting school he was miserable, not at all the smiling, bubbly, and inquisitive boy I had previously known. The amount of homework for a five year old was astonishing. At our first Parent/Teacher/Student Conference you stated he was "too full of energy" and should "probably be evaluated for ADHD and possibly medicated". I was floored that an educator with many years of teaching behind her would be surprised that a 5 year old was "full of energy" and would also have found time to acquire a medical degree that would make her capable of diagnosing a learning disability! Thank you for showing me that some teachers just want silent, obedient, and robotic students.

To Mrs. B:
When Cass started kindergarten I had great apprehension. He was (and still is) a quirky and delightful boy. I didn't want to see that spinning whirling rainbow light inside him snuffed out. You were a breath of fresh air. Kind and patient with him, helping him to grow a love of school and learning. At Parent/Teacher/Student conferences you spoke to me and to him, just like he was a real person with thoughts and feelings about his school and learning experience. You made room for his quirks and kept him engaged. Thank you for teaching me that just because my child may learn a little differently it doesn't matter, he's still learning.

To Mrs. P:
Both Al and Cass had you as their first grade teacher. I'm pretty sure Al pushed to do well in your class purely out of spite towards the way he was treated. Any slight misstep in your classroom was met with shame and punishment. Apparently six and seven year old children should always follow every rule without ever making a mistake. Perhaps you thought you never made mistakes. Well, I know you do. When Cass was in your class it was the beginning of the end for his love of school and learning. You could see no way to work with him and his quirks. You tried to snuff them out with condescension and punishment. I tried so hard to work with you and to help him survive your class. I should have known then that "survival" is not a word that should be used in reference to learning and education. The last straw was when you had the wherewithal to put your hands on my child right in front of me. After witnessing you grab him by the front of his shirt to force him to look you in the face with your nose an inch form his I marched down to the office with Cass to tell the principle exactly what was wrong with you as a teacher. Thank you for teaching me that sticking up for my kid is always allowed, even when the person overstepping their boundaries is nearly 3 times your age.

To Mrs. B#2:
You were awful and wonderful. You didn't understand Cass. You were frustrated and annoyed by him. You even sent a progress note home saying that Cass had been "less annoying than usual". When he handed me that sticky note (that he had probably read 20 times before giving it to me) I saw red. I took him out of school for a week and contacted the principle. We sat down with you and the principle and came to an understanding. You apologized to me and to Cass for what you had written. You told Cass you were going to do your best to make his school days better. And you tried! My goodness did you try! We worked together: rewards, sticker charts, reminder sheets, daily emails, and we talk, talk, talked! Thank you for teaching me that everyone needs a second chance and a fresh start.

The teachers from the second school-

To Mrs. K:
Al might still have a crush on you. You were a new teacher and you brought energy and excitement to class everyday. Your enthusiasm for learning rubbed off on him and he excelled in ways he never had. Thank you for teaching me that joy and love can be better educators than textbooks and flashcards.

To Mr. H:
You did everything you could to help Cass rediscover his love of learning. From letting him stand at his desk to do "busy" work to letting him read for a bit when he was getting overwhelmed during testing. You were the teacher he had when I finally decided to take him out of school and start our homeschooling journey. I told you when we did it that it wasn't you. It wasn't. I promise. Thank you for giving Cass your well wishes and telling me good luck without any hint of sarcasm or judgement.

The teachers from the third school-

To Anonymous Teachers:
I never met a single one of you. Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences were held during the most ridiculous times of day that I was never able to attend a single one because of a combination of having small children and my husbands bizarre work schedules. No one ever sent me an email or a note or even tried to call me when Al was failing classes and missing work. Only one teacher bothered responding to emails in a timely fashion and honestly, I can't remember their name. Al went from being a student in elementary school to a number in junior high. It was implied and assumed that the transition from sixth to seventh grade magically meant that children were capable of being accountable for everything that was expected of them without much guidance from their teachers or administrators. Thank you for teaching me that the farther my kids were getting in to the public schooling experience the less they were being treated like thinking, feeling, independent, and dynamic human beings. They were being taught to become numbers on a spread sheet.

Finally, Thank you to every educator I interacted with during my children's public school education. Some of you left me feeling humbled by your ability to love children you only got to keep for year and then had to pass along. Some of you left me reeling in rage at a system that is becoming so toxic that it is leaving children feeling broken to pieces instead of lifted up.

Each of you drove me to the decision that homeschooling is the best option for my children and my family. So, thank you for the lessons you taught me as a parent whether they were good or bad. Any damage done has been wrapped up and healed with parental patience and love. Any of the gifts given have been held on to and cherished during this new journey in to life long learning.


Beckie the Terrible Homeschooler

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! And you aren't terrible, perhaps challenging...