An understanding, accommodating and compassionate teacher is a true blessing.
We have been so lucky that T has had amazing supports in his junior and now senior kindergarten years.
There are ongoing struggles, especially in the daily hell of virtual learning. But we are taking it a day at a time.
Gym class has always been a challenge. Even during in person schooling, T rarely participates. In the early days of virtual learning, he refused to even sit down for the session.
We think it’s related to confidence and not wanting to look stupid in front of his peers.
So we skipped gym class and did one-on-one sessions with his Child and Youth Worker instead – which worked well. They did activities such as scavenger hunts and T came out of his shell.
He recently had a new gym teacher and according to his CYW, the teacher has a real soft spot for T and really wants to find a way to include him in class.
So when we went back to virtual schooling five weeks ago, we tried a different approach.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, T sits in on gym class. There is no pressure to participate but he needs to sit, watch and listen.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, we continue to meet one-on-one with his CYW to maintain familiarity in his routine.
His gym teacher and CYW have been amazing in collaborating. The CYW shares things T enjoys, like scavenger hunts and Mario Bros., and the teacher incorporates them into gym class.
During this Monday’s gym class, the teacher structured it as a math movement class – see above. Kids were given multiple choice questions; a movement action is associated with each multiple choice answer – like jumping jacks, jogging on the spot or push ups.
As expected, T just sat and listened but I pushed him to answer the questions to me even if he didn’t want to do the related movements.
Then out of nowhere, T’s teacher called on him. “T, what’s the answer?”
T, with his camera off, looked apprehensive, but I reminded him that he knew the answer and so I unmuted the mic and he answered.
The teacher praised him in front of the class and I gave him a big smile and high five.
I thought that was the end of that, but every question, she kept calling on him.
With each passing time, T’s hesitation lessened and I could see how happy he was to answer correctly in front of his peers.
By the end of the class, the teacher called on other students as well – which was good, because I didn’t want other parents to feel like she was playing favourites.
Then T turned to me and asked, while the mic was muted, “Can I answer the question?”
I was floored. He had never ever wanted to volunteer an answer before.
It goes to show what a difference it makes to have someone believe in you and to champion for you – to help build your confidence and self esteem.
I know it is not always going to be like this on this academic and life journey with T.
The hubby and I made sure to share our deep and sincere thanks with the teacher through T’s CYW. We thanked them both for always trying new things to include and bring T out of his shell.
I always pray and wish for T to be surrounded in his life, outside of his home, with people who believe, champion and support him.
The power of belief, and knowing that others believe in you, make such a positive difference.