As a small child, I never really thought about teaching. Then as I reflect on my memories, I did not know think about education because I had a bad experience in 3rd grade, so I blocked out all of the opportunities I experienced teaching throughout my childhood.
My parents did not have an education, so I spent time reading stories to my father. I shared this with my grandchildren in one of my Christmas themes. I gave them a basket of books wrapped up. They unwrapped one each day starting after Thanksgiving with family activities to do until Christmas, sharing with them the reason for my love of reading.
I also was given opportunities at church to teach Sunday School to the little children, do a youth group and supervise the trip to the Church Camp. All great experiences which led to my career in education. I thank my parents, my minister, and those special teachers along the way who paved my path.
Just this past week, my daughter called to ask if I could teach for the rest of the school year my youngest grandson, who is four years old. I said, Yes, maybe faster than she had time to get the words out. He does not turn five years old until December, so he missed the cutoff to kindergarten this year. Which is a good thing; he still has maturing to do before taking that step. However, he has been at this same school for a long time now with the same staff and growing a little tired of things. He is a typical boy and a handful. My grandchildren are all different in their personalities.
I had not had the opportunity to spend as much time with my youngest grandson as I have with the other two, so I could not wait to have this time together. My love of teaching and learning was going to hopefully rub off on him. I wanted him to have the same kind of passion.
I have been away from teaching for a long time, but I was eager to get back to the routine of daily plans. I had not taught Pre-K but had overseen the program for a few years. I knew all of the things we needed to do. Day one was here, and I was ready to pick up my student.
Never let any moments be missed by being a teachable moment. So the drive time would be full of conversation and teaching. However, I was his teacher and grandmother too. He started talking to me about a little boy who had bad breath because he did not brush his teeth and would breathe in his face. I told him, “Well, you know when something like that happens, we do not want to hurt their feelings, so we may want to say something like: I brush my teeth every morning-He interrupts and says, “Yes, I told him I brush my teeth every day because of germs and being healthy. He does not like to brush his teeth.” I see, I told him. Well, maybe the teacher can help. “I don’t think so. My teacher hurt my heart.”
His voice had turned to a soft voice of despair. I looked in the rearview mirror to see his eyes looking down. My heart was breaking. “How did your teacher hurt your heart?” She was yelling at me all the time. His voice got more robust. He looked up and pointed his outstretched arm pointing straight ahead. Get on the wall. That is what she would say. Then she would point her hand like this to put my head down.” The vision of him pointing his finger and arm, the voice yelling-it was my third-grade teacher. I knew exactly how he felt. Oh, my goodness. This can’t be. How could this have happened to my little boy?
We have completed our first week of school. He is enjoying our routine and the work we are doing. I am working hard to correct the negatives and replacing with positives. It will take some time and an excellent teacher for a few years to help him heal. I know he will have them, and I believe in our teachers.
We must all be reminded of the power of our words and actions. What we think we are doing to be firm in setting guidelines could be sending the message of hurt when we are not communicating the what, how, and why. He said he was silly on this day but then changed it to happy. This makes every teacher and grandmother happy too!