Saturday, June 6, 2015

Some Parting Thoughts

A best friend photoshopped this for me last year, when I was thinking about leaving a school where I had taught for 13 years. It was a difficult career decision for me to leave, but a decision that I'm happy to have finally made. I have worked as a teacher for many years, and I've learned that all children are gifted and talented in many ways. Some of the gifts are simply unmeasurable by tests. For example, during my first year teaching, I taught all of the sixth graders who were failing at math. I can honestly say, that every single student in my math group had some other major strength which compensated for the math weakness. One little girl in particular, Samantha, was a genius at technical drawing. She was also in my reading class (I taught the group of super readers), where she produced an ABC book, featuring insects. The drawings were exquisitely detailed, and were well researched. There were short poems about each insect. It was well written. It was wryly funny. Should one deficit single a student out for a segregated education? Most definitely not.

This year, I've had all ability levels in my class. It has been a treat to watch students of differing abilities interact, and influence one another. A young man who struggles academically, is gifted with a gentleness, that makes all other students feel calm. He is universally loved and respected by all. He has the gift of humor and ease. Each morning, he arrived early, and chatted with me before the start of school. I am most definitely NOT a morning person. So, for him to be able to skillfully navigate my complicated morning moods, shows genius. If I had not met him, my life would be less. I also had students who excelled academically in all areas. Super students. However, they may have had various personal, behavioral, or social Achilles heels to overcome.

It is important for kids to interact with others who are unlike them. Why? The world in which they will live, will require adults who can be kind and empathetic. Those who are talented in one area, cheer on and influence those who are weak in that same area. A room full of equal abilities doesn't actually exist. A room where everyone has access to the possibility of growth and success should exist.

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