Oh What a Difference A Year Makes...

7:30 AM

Saturday was just your average, ordinary day.  I actually got to sleep in an hour or so later than my normal wake up time which was a much needed and refreshing break for me.  One of the benefits of having a pre-teen is that they're able to wake up, get ready and make their own breakfast with ease.  By the time I woke up, Alaka'i had his bed made, his room tidy-d, his face washed, teeth brushed and he was dressed for the day.  He's an exceptional boy but usually not so eager to clean his room....

Right away I knew he had a plan.  Well, it's only natural that he be expecting something from me, he did get all A's and 2 B's on his report card, and boy he worked hard for them.  He's living proof that a teacher can truly make the difference in a child's grades and self esteem.  To go from mostly C's and a few D's in the 4th grade with notes from the teacher saying "he doesn't focus" or "are you sure the doctor said he doesn't have ADD?" (typical lazy public school teacher trying to deflect her deficiencies onto a child and diagnosing them without a doctor or an actual expert opinion)... to now getting all A's and 2-3 B's... really makes you realize how much a teacher can affect the attitude and excellence of a student.

I actually had Alaka'i tested for ADD and ADHD and learning disabilities last year because his lazy teacher was always saying he and 8/23 of the kids in her class had attention problems.  No, I think when over a third of your class is having issues, it's more about the teacher than it is the students.  Anyhow, doctors and specialists told me he was fine, normal, smart even and that they didn't understand why the teacher would say such things....  Needless to say, the Department of Education (DOE) in Hawai'i has some major kinks to work out.

Fourth grade wasn't Alaka'i's best year.  Fifth grade, however, has proven to be an amazing turn around for my sweet boy.  He went from being what his teacher called "introverted and scared to answer" at the beginning of the year to "excited to participate and hard working".  The confidence that Alaka'i's terrible 4th grade teacher had stripped from him and his classmates was finally starting to come back.  It gave me such gratification and relief to see my son excited to learn again.  He's gotten rave reviews from his amazing teacher and nearly straight A's every single quarter with notes saying he's consistently providing quality work and participating in group discussions with ease and efficiency.

I was the proudest mommy in the world to read that on his report card Thursday.  It was a sort of validation in knowing that my boy was just fine all along and let me tell you, I loved running in to his old 4th grade teacher at Safeway.  When she asked how he was doing with that snide little look on her face, I loved saying "as a matter of fact, I just got his report card" and pulling it out like a golden ticket from my purse and letting her see it and watching the color sink out of her face and her eyes get big as her jaw dropped ever so slightly.  She even had the gall to ask if I had him in special tutoring...no ma'am... he just has a teacher who actually likes his job and does it well.

In fact, if we're being perfectly honest here, I never appreciated her condescending attitude.  When he was in her class, she would insinuate that if he had ADD or ADHD, it was his fault or something he should be ashamed of and punished for.  No child deserves that, especially not ones who actually suffer from such things.  That's one of the main reasons so many kids today struggle and give up, because teachers like my son's 4th grade teacher cut them down before they even had a chance to try.  I'm thankful he doesn't have any of those challenges, although who wouldn't get bored to death in a class with a teacher who spent the majority of the day cutting you and your classmates down?

A group of us parents complained and the oh so efficient and diligent [note the sarcasm] DOE said they would follow up with her and never did.  Unions- not so good when children's futures are at stake.  Let's just say that when he was done with 4th grade, we both cheered when we got in the car and celebrated with ice cream like it was a birthday we waited so long to celebrate.  I saw such joy in my boy's face the day he was done with her class and as a mama, it made me so happy and sad for him because just imagining how terrible she made him and his classmates feel, imagining how bad it must have been to illicit such a joyous response, made me cringe.

When he started 5th grade, I went in with worry and low expectations but was pleasantly surprised that his teacher loves his job and puts the children's interests first.  Hearing how he was once berated as a kid and thought he could never be good at math because of a bad teacher and how that experience motivated him to encourage his students was really so refreshing.  He allows them to talk out loud, discuss how they came up with their answers and if the answers are wrong, they discuss at which point they went wrong so they truly understand how to do it right.  The orientation was like a choir in angels singing a melodious "ahhhh" at once.  When I went to my first parent teacher conference and his teacher said "good, that means I'm doing my job well because you parents are my bosses", I was so shocked I swear I had to literally grab my lower jaw off the table and lift it up to my face.  That's the kind of attitude a teacher should have.

Hey, I'm not saying all teachers are lazy but it's those that are that ruin it for the truly good teachers out there.  I don't understand how or why a person would take a job as an educator if they hated it or didn't have a passion for it.  The contrast between my son's 4th grade teacher and his 5th grade is so vastly different, it astounds me.  To see a teacher care about his students is something I shouldn't be so shocked to see.  It should be the norm but isn't... And hey, I'm sure there are a ton of bratty, disrespectful kids out there but they shouldn't be discarded and thrown away any more than a kid with a disability.  It's all about attitude and approach and let me tell you, I thank God every day for my son's 5th grade teacher... Oh what a difference a year makes!

Have any of you mama's had bad experiences with teachers?  Were you the victim of a bad teacher growing up?  I know I had a few and like I told Alaka'i, you have to cope and adapt even in the worst situations but man, imagine a world where every teacher loved the job and did it right.... The potential of excellence for the youth of the world... Teachers really shape a student's life and they could change the world if there were fewere lazy ones and more amazing ones.

Share your stories and experiences with me!!  Have a Blessed Sunday!



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