Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear Teacher Who Just Gave My Kid A Chance

Dear Teacher, Coach, Instructor, Leader, Responsible Adult,

You don't know me--not yet, anyway--but you just met my daughter. You know, the one with the freckles? The new kid that just moved in from God-knows-where, and came into your wonderful, well established class/team/group/lesson,  the class you've been teaching since these kids were teeny-weeny and didn't want to leave their moms. You've spent forever getting these no-longer-little humans to work together as a group. You've watched them find their passions. You rejoiced when they became friends. You've encouraged them as they fought and found their way. And last year, you jumped for joy when they triumphed and came FIRST PLACE at that big, big BIG competition. Their success was the result of years and years of your hard work.

But today, my kid came into the room, and you didn't have a clue what to do with her.

She walked in...a stranger, an unknown, an alien. The other kids stared. Who in the heck was this girl? Waltzing in, to disturb their perfectly-balanced microcosm of society?

You knew nothing about my kid's abilities, and you were worried that this unknown would turn your award-winning team into a disaster. You wondered if I was being truthful about my kid's background and training. You've had kids like her before...and they didn't last.

You, dear teacher, could have chosen one of two roads.

You could have taken the easy road--treated my teen like a stranger, doubted her abilities, erred on the side of safety. Your gut was probably telling you this. Parents tend to exaggerate, don't they? Unknowns rarely prove worthy of recognition. And God-knows-where likely had horrible teachers-- fakes masquerading as professionals. You could have completely discounted my kid, and you would have been justified in your own mind.

You knew nothing about my amazing daughter...and you could have made a difficult situation much, much worse.

But you did not take this road.

You wonderful, wonderful person. You dear, sweet, patient human being.

You didn't walk down that path at all. There were so many ways you could have hurt my girl, so many simple, minuscule things you could have done to make her already difficult life a nightmare...but you didn't.

Instead, you watched. Not too closely--not so intensely that she felt singled out. You watched just enough to see and understand what she was made of.

You understood that she would be behind in some things, but you also realized that she would be far ahead in others. You were patient when she didn't follow your way of teaching. And when she caught on, you praised her, but didn't dwell. You gave her time to assimilate new methods, and you challenged her on the things she knew. You placed her with others, and encouraged the tiny spark of friendship.

You asked questions...and you believed the answers.

The next class you challenged her a bit more. You put her closer to the spotlight, but you didn't push.

You watched and waited.

You believed in her. You wanted her to succeed. You knew that her many experiences had given her a wide, full background to pull from. You celebrated her differences.

And before you knew it...she became part of the team. Sure, it was a tentative link, a delicate and tender and thin tendril that tied her to this tight-knit group with a BIG history, but you supported that thread. You helped her to weave herself in, and then you let her go.

Dear teacher who just gave my kid a chance, you couldn't have known that she's done this not once, not twice, but six times in her short life. You couldn't have known that being the new kid every other year is beyond hard. It's scary and demeaning and physically and emotionally painful. Your watching and waiting and supporting were vital in not just your class, but in her very existence.

It may have seemed second nature to you, but believe me, it's not like that for some teachers. There are those that are quick to discount, quick to shut out, quick to discriminate. Those that would stomp all over her confidence to make a point.

You did none of these things. Nope. Not you. You gave my kid a chance. And in giving my kid a chance you proved to her that she is worth the effort. You showed her that God-knows-where is a good place to be from. And you strengthened the foundation she'll build on in the next place.

Dear teacher who just gave my kid a chance, you are a true hero.

Thank you, from the bottom of this proud mom's heart.

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