Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Teaching the Right Lessons

Connor's teacher's husband is very ill. He cannot be left unattended. Two weeks ago, he was in the hospital and the teacher was absent in the afternoons. Last week, the teacher was absent all week. This week, the teacher continues to be absent and will be so at least through the end of the week. After that, it's unclear what will happen, though more doctor's appointments mean that a clearer picture will likely develop.

Notably, she has sent in lesson plans every day for the substitute, and the substitutes are supported by a student teacher who has been in the classroom and knows the students. Connor's teacher may have physically left the building, but she's still working for her students.

I have mixed reactions to this. As a human, I am deeply sorry that my son's teacher is going through this awful time. I can't imagine how stressful it must be.

As a parent, I was initially upset that my son seems to be losing a second teacher this year. He's already lost one teacher, and the thought of losing another just seems like it's too much for one seven-year-old to bear. Also, his classroom teacher does a LOT of extra work for Connor, trying to find material that keeps him interested in what's going on. Most recently, she recruited the librarian to help with a special project. Without his teacher there, I'm sure he's getting lost quite a bit of the time - and this is a little depressing to me.

But then I got to thinking. What's the lesson in all of this?

It's simple, really.

The lesson is that when you partner is in great need, you drop as much as you can and you attend to that need. I would walk out of my office in a New York City minute and never look back if I was in the same situation. And just because you happen to be a teacher, doesn't mean you shouldn't do the same thing.

Years from now, I have no doubt that Connor will sail through the various academic challenges that come his way - whether he's excited about school in second grade or not. But more importantly, he might be faced with an awful choice as he watches a partner, friend, or child in need. And maybe in the back of the mind he'll remember a lesson he's learning right now - choose the thing that's most important to you every day - and do that thing.


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