Friday, March 28, 2014

Reading, Writing and...

I work as an Educational Assistant in a large school.

The teachers I work alongside are truly called to this work: they are engaging and enthusiastic and encouraging. When I took this job, I didn't expect to find all that they are to and for their students.

It shames me, actually, to remember how I was prepared to find them lacking in patience and compassion and empathy. How I was prepared to know better.

Nothing could be further from the truth of how it truly is inside these classrooms, where teachers give their all, each and every day, to help each and every student find her potential and surpass it. In classrooms full to bursting, these smart and funny women work to inspire, to teach, and to reach all of their kids, even the ones who could care less. Perhaps, especially, those ones.

While I have been assigned several focus students to work for over the course of each day and week, there are several more who have caught my attention and my affection. Technically, I support students academically - helping some to read, others to research and encouraging all of them to keep at their tasks when frustration or distraction loom.

But, as so often happens, I am finding that the greatest lessons? Are my own.

Every day, I carry them home in my heart - these children,  and these lessons. Even as I gather up my own kids to receive their hugs and kisses and listen to the chatter about their day, I am often thinking of the children - and teachers - who fill mine

These are some of the things that I am (re)learning, as a mother, alongside the students I am paid to help teach and it is both humbling and amazing, at the same time:

1. FOCUS: On the lesson, on the words we hear and the ones we don't. Yes, there is much to be distracted by - the computer, the window, our friends, the dishes, the bills, our fingers, our daydreams - but none of that helps us learn. Figure out what's most important and then do it. Finish it. Use your juiciest words, your best printing, your most-present-Mummy-face.

2. SMALL STUFF: Find and work on the small stuff and build from there - the word (world) is made up of small words (moments) inside the big words (stuff). The big stuff is easier to understand and appreciate if we break it down into more manageable chunks. Chunk your words. Savour the moments.

3. TIME MANAGEMENT: If we don't manage our time wisely, we have to stay in at recess or take work home. This means less play time and that someone else will likely have extra supervision duty or have to change their plans to make up for our procrastination. Frankly, it's just not cool.

In mama speak: Put the damned laundry away so that Mark doesn't trip over the basket in the middle of the night thereby kind of ruining your happy Facebook time with his grumbling and stomping the next day.

4. SING: We live in the most amazing country in the world - sing our anthem loudly and with pride. Sing about the sunshine, the rain, sing the alphabet, the Waiting Song and when your heart really doesn't want to. Make up your own words, your own tune. Share your song.

It's hard to stay mad or sad when you're singing, even if it's only in the shower or with the kids before bed. It's also kind of awesome if you can do different voices and a passable air guitar.

5. ASK FOR HELP: There will always be someone who knows more than you or who knows how to help you find what you need. Use the word wall, your dictionary, the Internet, a trusted adult, a wise friend. Ask for help. Ask for grace. Ask for support. Ask for love. Be gracious about giving it, too.

6. READ: Read a book. Any book. A real book, not a story on the Internet. A book-book. A story, a passage, a paragraph.  To yourself. To your kids. FOR your kids. Because of your kids.  Just read. A little bit - or  a lot - every day.

And you? What are the most important lessons you learned in school?