Slice of Life Day 8: Celebrating the Village and the Child

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hcelebrate link upThe week went fast, as all weeks seem to do. Faster perhaps because it had an extra element added to it: the Slice of Life Daily Challenge. Check out the wonderful slices for day eight here.  This post is also a celebration that I am contributing to Ruth Ayers’ Celebration link-up.  Check out those posts here.

Yesterday I had a parent conference, one of my last of this reporting period. It had been rescheduled several times, but finally I sat down with this interesting boy with his equally interesting mom.

We talked about how he sees himself as a reader. He brought out examples of his recent thinking. Addressed his writing and how he felt he had done well that day in challenging writing. We talked about how he was going to make a plan to read more. How February had been a hard month for the family and March was getting on track. We talked about his weekly religious school commitment and planning for his Bar Mitzvah. (I’m invited.) As we talked, he slurped on his popsicle (a class treat won for good citizenship on the yard). 

Everything about this conference was positive. This student is intelligent and reflective as his is parent.

Looking back at this description you might think this was the well-behaved-made-for-school kid. You know the kind, about 5% of your classroom. He’s not. Not even close. He’s the kind of kid everyone in the school knew from kindergarten on. You knew him because you could hear him the minute you walked in the office. He was there on a regular basis. Challenges, you name it.

But this student sits before me, a model student, reflecting on his work and making plans to improve; looking forward to a three-day field trip with his classmates.

I see lots of troubled kids with good reason for their troubles. They struggle and growth is frustrating and slow. The road is steep and obstacles keep getting thrown in their way; half the time they are just hanging on through each day. Behaviors seen in kindergarten just keep on going, and the trajectory isn’t good.

But this student has grown, tremendously. Why? Lots of support and care by a team including his parent, counseling (privately and at school), a religious community, and a school community that includes a loving office staff, as well as principals and teachers who understand and talk to him.  It has taken, as they say, a village. And a committed village, that did not give up. To think that a school alone, even the best of all possible ones, with the best teachers and staff, could of helped him in this way is just not facing the facts. It took more. School, home, faith and medical communities to move this kid from frustration and anger to success on many days.

He still has his difficult days. You might find him in the hallway, when he should be at lunch, hitting his head against a pole. Those are bad days. Maybe a kid said something, or a math problem took him longer that he thought it should take, or something I tried to teach him about sentence structure made no sense, so he slammed the iPad down on the desk.  Those days happen. But when this happens, a teacher talks to him quietly, maybe takes him to the office, and he has some quiet space to re think. He can do that re thinking and re start not just because of what teachers and staff are doing well at the moment, but because of all the work that has been going on with him for the past 10 years. It has accumulated and built him internally, so he can handle frustration better and come out of it to try again.

Yesterday’s conference left me strangely uplifted. Watching this student be loved, calm and focused just filled me with hope. The challenges will remain. He isn’t there yet, but who is?

Today want to celebrate all of those committed communities and people who comprise them, who love and support. But mostly, I want to celebrate him, how far he has come, and the plans he has made for the future.