I am the teacher your child will meet on the first day of school. I know what you will be thinking on that first day. -As you reluctantly put your child on that bus, you will be nervous and apprehensive wondering what it will be like for your child at school. Will he be lost in the shuffle? Will the teacher be nice? - Will she like him? Will the other kids make fun of him? Will she do a good job? ---But don't worry, I am his teacher, and I am ready to begin...
When your child gets off the bus at school, unsure what will happen next, I will be there. I will have a smile on my face so that even if your child doesn't realize where he is, and why he is here, ---he will know it is a friendly place. A happy place. He will see the inviting decorations and feel reassured that he is not in a mean place.
I will take your child's hand and guide him to where he needs to go, to the seat I have specially marked with his name. I will spend a few minutes helping him to transition to his new environment, and perhaps wipe away a tear.
When we all get settled down to start our day, I will look around at my classroom and all the faces, and be reminded that every child is a different color - each one very unique. I will view my students as a new box of crayons just opened. Each one so bright and shiny. Each one so eager to be picked.
When it's time to do our lesson and I get discouraged that your child doesn't want to participate or do what he must - I will not give up. I will have patience as we do each simple task over and over, -- and I'll remember that I get coffee breaks, I go home at the end of the day, I get paid vacations - you don't.
When it's time for art, I will put my hand over your child's hand, dipping his fingers in the paint, and showing him what happens when you rub the paint along a plain piece of paper. Oh, I realize your child might care less and might resist at the feeling of the paint on his fingers - but we will do it and I will give him encouragement to keep on. We will use our imagination in deciding what it might be he has painted. So when you get a crumpled piece of paper with perhaps only a few blobs of color on it, know that I saw the masterpiece that your child is.
When we get out our scissors and glue to do a project, I will remember that thinking you aren't as good as someone else, and being excluded, are feelings that can cut into a child's self-esteem. With that in mind, I will make every effort to avoid sticky situations by ensuring that your child is not discriminated against, or made fun of by other children. So when your child comes home in the afternoon with a less than perfect project, know that he did it on his own with the whole class urging him on.
When the therapists come in to work with your child, they will view him as a piece of clay with the potential to be something great. Together, despite tearful plea's and protests, we will take the precious child you have entrusted us with, and do our best at molding and shaping him and smoothing his edges, so that he may stand tall as possible. So at times when you think our goals are too simple, and our progress too slow, know that it takes time to build the magnificent sculpture we are envisioning in your child.
In music class we will have fun while dancing and singing to the silly songs. Don't get discouraged when you get the sheet of paper with the words typed out of the song for the week that your child must learn - and think that he can't participate. For even if your child can't read or talk or understand the words - I will listen to the sounds and shrieks he makes as he sways back and forth or spins in a circle, --and I will hear the music in his soul and see the dancing in his eyes. Just like you do.
In P.E. class we will not let the obstacles your child faces defeat him. We will make sure your child is challenged, but not discouraged. We will not make any tunnel too long that he can't see the light at the end. We will not make any swing go too fast that he is scared to try it again, or put any goal out of reach. There will be no last place. We will strive to impart to your child that in this race, everyone who crosses the finish line is a winner. We will be cheering for your child all the way, applauding his accomplishments. We will be the safety net should your child stumble and fall along the way.
So when your child comes home from school, and you hurriedly dig through his backpack for a note about what we did all day --and see that I forgot to write one, just know that we covered all the subjects and at the end of the day we were both very tired and dirty.
c. August 2000 By Michelle Guppy, firstname.lastname@example.org. In tribute to Brandon's teachers, paraprofessionals, aides, and therapists -past and present- who took, and still take, their jobs seriously.Permission to place into the Our-Kids file archives given August 2000