Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thank a Teacher.

An article passed my Facebook last week about compassion fatigue and secondary trauma in teachers. It mentioned how teachers can show symptoms of stress and anxiety as a result of hearing about the trauma their student's experienced. In the last 13 years as a teacher, I can attest to this. Hearing about my student's trauma and watching them navigate it without much you can do about it, leaves it mark. Short of bringing some of these kiddos home with me, all I can do is feel their trauma with them.

Ways I cope....
  • I honestly try to leave work at work. This doesn't always work but this is why if you know me closely you'll rarely hear me talking about school. I try to leave it there as a way to cope.
  • If you work with me, that's another story. I think a way educators cope together is to share their (student's) stories with those who may offer suggestions or just empathy.
  • Stress relief... it may come in a beverage form. Or a suggary form. Or a "let's take our kids somewhere fabulous" adventure. (Maybe I should reverse the order on those!)
  • Celebrate and cherish the events that seem to happen to far apart.... those listed below. (I may need to come back and reread these sometimes. So I wanted to publish them somewhere!)

This week I was visited by two different individuals.

First a former student came in. He has since passed onto the middle school but we spent 4 years together. The last year together, we went toe to toe quite a few times. And the stickler I am, I never let him not meet my expectation (apologies for my double negative). My goal for him all along was to make him a functional independent student and hopefully a good boyfriend/husband/father one day. There were many hard lessons. Some taught in a tender way. Others through a school of hard knocks. I was always well aware of not wanting to induce more trauma but I knew we had a well established relationship as I had known him since he was a younger sibling of a former student as well. Well, going toe to toe that last year meant there was friction. I was bound and determined to continue to teach him what I could until that 3:35 bell rang that last day in June. This was a kiddo with a HARD exterior who would never really give you much back. I am used to it. That's what I deal with as a special education teacher, but it doesn't make it easy.

Well, this week, this kiddo was at my classroom door at dismissal. I saw him and my face lit up. The moment my face lit up, his broke down. He ran into my arms sobbing and wouldn't let go. After he calmed down, he shared how different everything is and thanked me for everything I had ever done for him and mentioned over and over how I was always right. There it was. The "payback" I had never gotten but needed to hear to know that I had done something right for this child over the years. He caught me up on what the family was up to and I reassured him that he would always know where to find me.

Second, a grandmother of a former student dropped of goodies and a card for the teachers at my school as a thank you for her grandson who was now doing well at the middle school. Due to a tragic event, she found herself guardians to her grandchildren and had to make the hard decision to pull them out of their school and move them to where she lived. This is where we met this young man with a pretty significant disability two years ago. He thrived at our school and passed onto middle school like the other 45 kiddos in his grade level. When chatting with her in the hall this week, she also shared a sobbing hug with me and expressed her gratitude for everything we had done and shared how well her grandson was doing thanks to us.

Third, I shared this post last spring. This was that kiddo. That kid in the last 5 years that I so wish I could bring home with me. This is a kiddo who could be college bound, get a degree and be a master computer programmer one day. I truly hope this is his destiny but I worry that if his disability doesn't hold him back, his life will. But this day below, after I move heaven and earth on a daily basis to make sure he can access continued learning through his disability, he brought ME the roses.
Those roses stayed bloomed in my classroom for almost 4 weeks and I finally had to toss them while closing up my classroom in June.

These were three events that I will take with me moving forward. Honestly, those two visit this week were enough to reenergize me. For how long it will last, I don't know. But I am hoping a while because I don't know the next time something like any of these events will happen again. But apparently, all the effort physically, mentally and emotionally IS making a difference. So, tomorrow starts another week at school. I'll keep doing what I do best (after mother) teach.

If you haven't lately, thank a teacher. Not because you haven't lately, but because another family doesn't have the ability to as they have their own traumas to worry about. It takes a village. Support your village as they help hold up others.

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