It is our tendency to paint things in a positive light. In fact, that seems to be what most of us do with our (anti)social media accounts. Other than politics, we like post the good news about our families. Even with politics, however, we tend to portray our own beliefs with positive messages before trashing the other guy. Perhaps it comes from years of Madison Avenue telling us about their wonderful products through print and broadcast advertising.
The same must be true of teachers with websites or means of electronic communication with parents. We want people to see our classrooms, our students, and our teaching as flawless and compelling, always engaging, challenging and unique. Who has two thumbs and represents those tendencies? This guy.
Earlier in the week I sent this message to the parents of students in my class:
One child lives in poverty, his family scrounging for meals and sleeping on the floor. Another has a house infested with fleas that keep her up at night. Still another has to wear the same clothes day after day. Yet another wonders if her electricity will ever be turned back on. Too many come to us from broken families, abuse, or other unknown backgrounds, not to mention diagnoses of dyslexia, ADHD, autism, mental health issues, and the like. Things occur every day that affect our attitudes and outlooks on life. Our dog dies, someone in the family has an accident, or someone loses a job, just to mention a few.
The same happens with the teacher. This year has brought a variety of challenges to our family. Even before a killer virus was on our horizon, crippling our economy, we were met with the challenge of dealing with my daughter's anxiety and conversion disorder. Just a few months ago, she was unable to walk without some firm assistance, and she often fell completely over even when sitting still in a chair. In the spring of this year, we thought we might lose her altogether. And now, my dad, who has virtually no experience with health maladies, is experiencing kidney problems that are knocking him for a loop. He entered the hospital to address that issue on Monday, and doctors quickly discovered he also has pneumonia. This, for a 78-year-old man, can be concerning, and I know he and my mom are in the back of my thoughts as I teach.
This year's crop of Hoggatteers is a good one. My students offer little in the way of behavioral challenges. Most have a drive that presses them to stick with a problem until they conquer it. They love to write, paying attention to details. They know when to be serious and when to be serious about having fun. But occasionally, we all have "one of those days". I know it's just as much the teacher as it is the students, but on Monday, things just weren't clicking. Things weren't in sync. Everything just seemed off-kilter. Some tattled. Some called other kids names and threatened to hurt them. Some teased relentlessly. Things finally came to a head. I needed to remain calm for them. After all, I love my Hoggatteers. These kids have so much potential.
I want my families to understand that I'm not trying to put lipstick on a pig when I report what is happening at school. We genuinely do enjoy our time here. I love presenting lessons differently. I spend many hours outside of the school day, attempting to get it right and make it memorable. That is not to say, however, that every minute is perfect and that we don't make mistakes. My hope is that when I send a message like the one above, that parents will realize that I am being genuine and truthful. Honesty is the best policy, and I don't ever want it to seem like I'm trying to gloss over something that is not all that glossy. Yes, I like to stay positive and on top of things, but there are times when I get behind and overextended. As much as I don't want to admit it, I am only human, and my class is not always bathed in perfection.
Your humble servant,