To Teachers with Love

The influence of a great teacher is longlasting.

Thanks to Mrs Smith in Grade 3, who introduced us to daily journal writing, I developed an early start to expressing myself through words.

Tough but fair and kind teachers, like Mrs Ezer in high school, were whom I learned the most from.

I keep it touch with a few treasured teachers, one of whom is a friend – her son was the ring bearer at my wedding. I know she will read this. Don’t let this get to your head! 😆

I loved school and grew up with great respect for teachers. Both my parents were teachers; Ma was my school principal in the Philippines.

One of the best lessons I am learning as an adult is that learning is lifelong if you keep an open mind.

The school journey will be harder for T.

Due to FASD, an invisible disability that impacts up to 5% of people, T struggles with focusing in the classroom, needs supports to complete tasks, and making friends is harder because of challenges with regulation and impulse control.

T has recurring hard days in Grade 3 with staying focused, disruptive class clown behaviour, and getting in peers’ faces.

Some days, I want to scream, “What’s wrong with you!”

But I know the answer: it’s his disability and I need to adjust expectations and approach.

It’s easier said than done. I fall into self destruct mode more often than I’d like.

Thankfully, this year we have the continued support of his excellent CYW from last year, who helps him achieve good to great days.

This reminds me to think big picture.

His teacher is fantastic and we had a recent good in-person meeting to discuss T’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

I sense that she will push him, while also seek to understand, empathize and accommodate.

I like that she assigns homework. It is hit or miss with T. Some nights, he zips through it; some are meltdowns.

Regardless, I believe homework builds discipline and for T, it helps reinforce learning that he may have zoned out of in class.

I’m continuing to do light weekend learning with T; we read one book and practice math both days before he gets fun time, like swimming.

Advocacy and allyship are important and can be magic.

Last month, I did a deputation to our school board about increasing awareness and supports for FASD.

After I let T’s principal and CYW know about the deputation, the school did the following:

  • Consulted with us to add three books to the library about FASD and related subjects – Big thanks to CanFASD and FASD United for answering my email for suggestions.
  • Worked with us to arrange for a speaker from Surrey Place to speak to T’s class about FASD. His teacher is now arranging a visit from the FASD coordinator in early November.

As a parent that struggles daily with how hard this disability can be, I could not ask for more from a school – as I recognize that T is not the only child they have to support.

I sent a follow up e-mail to two school trustees who seemed receptive to our deputation to let them know what T’s school is doing – and said it is an example that more schools should follow.

Celebrate and amplify the successes

When I have a bad day with T, the ones that emotionally cripple me – and we had a recent streak of them – I remind myself T has many strengths; one of which is he’s a bright kid.

When we can get him to focus, he can pick up the concepts and get the work done.

Yes, I realize that not focusing is no small barrier.

So when he does well, we celebrate – like getting an A on his recent math test. Way to go, T!

I’m working with him on weekends on one of his Grade 3 goals: to learn the times table. He completed this table by himself over two weekends.

He didn’t do the 11s & 12s correctly so I let him copy a pre-populated table. He’ll get it over time!

Earlier today, for a job well done with his weekend learning, T and I went for bubble tea after our Sunday afternoon swim.

T had his favourite strawberry slush with popping bubbles and I had my usual grass jelly milk tea. I ask for half the sugar with our orders.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher and I often pretend played as a teacher.

I was accepted into a teaching program for university but studied journalism instead.

Who knew all these years later, I’d become a pseudo homeschool teacher for T.

On most days, I enjoy it because the rewards of seeing T make his gains are heartfilling. On some days, I want to scream and tear my hair out, because he can be so frustrating.

So to teachers that do this every day, you have my utmost respect. And to the teachers that seek to understand, empathize, accommodate and bring out the best in T, you have my gratitude.

Photo at top: A 5-year-old during the “fun” virtual schooling pandemic days in 2020. He’s grown a lot since, in more ways than one!

29 thoughts on “To Teachers with Love

  1. Great POST! My 6th grade teacher is a facebook friend! And I am a lot older than you and she is a lot older than me! I think the universe sent you on the right path; the love of teaching so you can help T and the love of writing so you can share your wisdom, humor and insights with all of us. I have my master’s in spec. ED but always thought if I worked with kids who need specialized help all day long, would I have patience left when I came home to Jess – Glad I went on a different path….

    1. Thanks Vickie. Are you back from your trip?

      Teachers name such a difference and glad you keep in touch with yours.

      It’s good to hear your constant pragmatic outlook on life. Our kids are a lot of work and take a lot from us. And yes, having patience left at the end for them after work often weighs on my mind too!

  2. And the challenging part about being a teacher is the possibility of having a number of learners with T’s issue. You still have to keep your cool or else you pop🤭 T should be my math tutor…I suck at math

    1. Thank you Faith! I agree that working with kids with learning disabilities, especially several in the same class, can be hard. So I empathize and am mindful of this when I advocate for T with the school.

      Sure, you can help T with his writing in return for his math tutoring! 😆

  3. It’s pretty amazing that you’ve kept in touch with some of your former teachers. It goes to show that having a good teacher can have such a lifelong impact. And now you get to pay it forward in a way by helping T with his school work and teaching him some valuable life lessons! I’m glad to hear that T’s school has taken some action after your deputation to the school board. And it’s always great to celebrate, even the small stuff.

    1. Thanks Linda. And good morning! So early and dark. 😆

      I’ve been so blessed with great teachers with my life and I wish for the same experience with T. I know it’s going to be a tougher road for him establishing these connections given his behavioural symptoms from FASD but we can hope and try! 🙏

      Almost the weekend. Hang in there.

  4. What an amazing school system Ab, it couldn’t have happened without people like you. T is doing amazing with his math. Multiplying with 11 & 12 numbers are difficult but like you said he will get it. How fortunate to have the same CYW this year as last, I’m sure this makes it so much easier. I learned something new about you today, a family of teachers, your mom your principle and you wanted to be a teacher too!

    1. Thanks Diane. We are very lucky as I know it’s not like this in all situations. A supportive school makes such a difference. I do wonder what middle school will bring and worry about it. But that’s still 3 years away. One step at a time!

      T is very good in math and I hope it keeps up. 🙏👍

      And yes, being a teacher would’ve been fun. I’m lucky to be in a job I love but I do sometimes wonder what life would’ve been like if I’ve gone into teaching.

  5. Way to go, T! And way to go, Dad, for bringing resources into the school and bonus studies to the home!

    Teachers really are special and the good ones are worth their weight in gold.

    1. Thank you, Erin. We are very fortunate to have great teacher, CYW, principal and school support this year. It is priceless!

  6. I am so happy to read that you are having a good experience with T’s school. How wonderful that you are dealing with a school and personnel that are willing to listen and learn.
    Teachers can make such a difference in a child’s life! I often recall some of my teachers with fondness.

    1. Thank you Ana. We’ve been very lucky with his school. Not all days are good, but the support and commitment is there. We know we’re lucky in this sense. 🙏 I hope T will have similarly great experiences as us and remember teachers that were kind and good to him!

  7. Ah, what a great homage to teachers. What I love about the blogging you do, Ab, is that it helps tell the story of all the different learning styles and challenges. That you got some books added to the library is amazing – because they build windows in the world of kids with disabilities like T’s. Absolutely amazing!

    Sorry about the string of bad days. I hear you. Then we get back on the path and try again, right? Thank goodness for the wins – and I love seeing those here. Happy Monday!

    1. Thanks Wynne. We owe so much to teachers, not just for ourselves but for our children as well. I know Miss O has lots to say about hers too! 😊

      We’re very lucky that despite the hard days, our school is generally very supportive of T and us. It’ll be sad and scary when we have to move to middle school in a few years and start from ground zero again.

      Hope you enjoy the rest of your week as well. 1 down, 4 to go!

  8. My wife is a special ed teacher and the one thing I’ve heard her talk about her students constantly over the years is the value of consistency. T’s teacher sounds amazing. Love that you’re in touch and using the IEP as a guide. It really is meant to help you. Love too that you’re celebrating the small wins. We saw that with our own kids. You need to step back every once in awhile and realize how far you’ve come — both T and you as a family. Great post Ab, hang in there! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Brian. I remember you mentioned your wife was a teacher. I don’t remember you mentioning she taught special education. My hats off to her. It’s a challenging job but such an important and life enhancing job!

      We’re hanging in there and the recent streak of bad days have been hard but the last few days have been great and we’re gonna focus on that momentum. All we can do is move forward. 😊🙏

      1. Thanks Brian. Not at all and I did not take it as such. 😊 It’s interesting how diverse all our lives are in this WordPress community and yet, I find something in each blogger I follow that connects directly with my life experience (in your case, your wife’s work). And for that, I am grateful! 😊

      2. Thank you Serena. It sure will rise again (although technically, it looks like rain tomorrow, but I get what you mean! 😆😊).

  9. I have so much respect for teachers who really care about their students, who want to see them grow and excel, and who understand that every child is different — I say this because growing up, I stumbled upon a few bad teachers who cared more about making money than educating. That math test sheet reminds me of those days a long time ago when doing well in math and science was probably the most important thing in my life.

    1. Thank you Bama. Teachers who want to see their kids grow and excel indeed are such blessings. You’re right, not all teachers are of this mindset. So we are so fortunate when we encounter them in our lives.

      I had to chuckle about your comment about the test. Life does go on doesn’t it from the tests. What we seem to focus so hard and stress about as kids don’t seem to matter as largely now. One day, our feelings about work will also seem very different in hindsight! 😊😆

  10. Cheers to you for leading by example with allyhood and advocacy! And I loved this line about T’s teacher: “I sense that she will push him, while also seek to understand, empathize and accommodate.” I think you just described a perfect teacher in my estimation. Happy Monday – hope you all have a great week. 🥰

    1. Thank you Vicki! It really does describe the perfect teacher doesn’t it. And I hope we encounter more of these in T’s lifetime as a student. 🙏

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