An entry I wrote for my educational law and policy class:
In my first year I became a tutor in the classroom to make some money on the side and get additional experience in the classroom. I had been working closely with a little boy in the third grade who was diagnosed with Asperger's and had behavioral issues in the classroom. He was short tempered, ill-mannered, and never wanted to stay on task. It was a challenge to engage him in the classroom, and he would almost always require additional supervision or individualized attention (either in the form of an EA, me, or the resource teacher) at school. Oftentimes, he would lash out in anger at the teacher or his peers without warning- he could go from 0 to 100 in an instant, and you could never tell what the next minor thing that would set him off would be. Needless to say, I had doubts in my mind about my future prospects as a teacher. If these were the types of challenges I would face in my classroom (and this was just one child), could I become the teacher that these children needed me to be?
It wasn't until one day during lunch that I remembered why I was there. The little boy (George, let's call him) was sitting alone out in the hallway- his head was down and he wasn't eating his lunch. I sat next to him and asked, "George, what seems to be troubling you today?" "My dad doesn't like me," he said. "Oh?" I asked. "He says I'm stupid and sometimes he hits me when I'm wrong." In that instant, my fears and doubts dissolved. I stopped seeing him as some an explosive time bomb sent to make my life miserable but as another fellow human being- with feelings and emotions just like you and I. What he had said had bothered me, so I ended up reported this to the Principal and she stayed with me while I made the call to CAS (Children's Aid Society). It was a nerve-racking call to make, but the Principal was supportive and reassured me that making the call did not always mean the parents will be put under investigation. Oftentimes, they would collect information and no action would be taken until they had enough grounds to persue the case. At the time, I only had very limited information and did not want to be the cause of George being separated from his parents. The lady on the phone asked me whether I saw any visible bruises on George (I didn't) and asked for direct quotations of what George said. The call only took about 10 minutes to make, and it felt like the right thing to do. I do not know what George's life is like today, but it was evident that he was in a school with teachers that cared and loved him. As a teacher, I may never know who the "Georges" in my classroom are, but I can do my best to provide the loving, caring, and supportive environment that my students deserve.
Has anyone else had a similar experience? What was it like for you?
International math educator who writes, occasionally.