“Your feelings really shine through when you’re sleeping,” is what I think I just heard a woman say. I’m not sure whom she was talking to. I’m sitting in a big comfy, if ugly and worn, chair in a bookstore. Someone has pulled it up to the window and I sit, my large coffee perched on the windowsill. Out the window I have a view of a parking lot full of cars and people heading into stores to do a little holiday shopping. A big wreath and little lights decorate the plaza. I wonder if my chair will be in the way of fellow bookstore shoppers. I look behind me to the nearest shelves, which are labeled Engineering and Mathematics. I feel like this might not be the busiest section unless you’re looking for The Art of Welding or Linear Algebra for Dummies. I kick off my shoes and tuck my feet up under me. Quiet music is playing in the background and I make myself at home. Now time to write. What should I write about? I will these books to share their author’s creativity with me. I wonder how many words sit on all of these shelves. And are they trapped in their book until someone opens it and begins to read. I picture people in the store opening a book and a swirl of words floating out to make the air fill like a freak snowstorm. But instead of flakes–the, and, cathedral, ubiquitous, serenity, freakish, beyond, catnip, lost, grand, understood, rare, shine, develop, braise, forest– words fly free.
We all start our careers somewhere and unfortunately have a lot of on the job learning to do. I know when I first started out as a special education teacher I made mistakes, and I still do. As a mom of a 13-year-old who is currently struggling in school, I also have the perspective of a parent who has to be a strong advocate for her son. And guess what, it’s freakin’ hard. After being a special education teacher for almost 20 years, I understand that advocating for my own child is very different from advocating for my students. There are so many feelings involved including fear, sadness, anger, love and frustration. With this perspective in mind I would like to offer the following apologies to all of the parents I have worked with:
- I am sorry if I ever made you feel judged.
- I am sorry if I didn’t have the confidence to admit when I didn’t know something.
- I am sorry if I ever called you “mom” or “dad” at a meeting instead of using your name.
- I am sorry if I didn’t focus on your child’s strengths.
- I’m sorry if I didn’t also let you know the struggles though because you deserve to have all of the information and not be blindsided at a meeting.
- I am sorry if I didn’t fully believe you were the expert on your child.
- I am sorry if I wasn’t brave enough to argue against rules and decisions that were not in the best interest of your child.
- I am sorry if I didn’t make sure to show that I truly liked your child.
- I am sorry if I didn’t make sure you knew I was on your side.
- I am sorry if I did not make communication and teamwork a top priority.
Teacher, mom and oh-so-human being