Friday, September 24, 2010

The Difference a Year Makes

[Part II of Beginnings is coming, I promise. It just needs time. It's a both more- and less-heartwarming story than Part I, and it's taking time and emotional energy, neither of which I have much of right now. Instead, let me tell you about my afternoon, via my Twitter feed...]

TC tinycoconut

The difference a year makes: Got note from RSP teacher asking if it wd help if they sent home extra sci/soc studies books for N to keep home

W/in two hrs, emails back and forth between RSP, classroom tchr, principal, and we'll have books in hand on Monday.

Not my idea; not something I asked for; creative, proactive problem-solving on school's part. I'm stunned...and grateful.

And, yes, I effusively thanked all parties. Hard to believe it's the same UNIVERSE, much less the same school, though.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beginnings, Part I

The kids had been back to school for less than two weeks when i met with N's teacher.

I could tell you all about our meeting. I would love to tell you all about our meeting, because I love talking about the good things. But, really, everything you need to know about that meeting was encapsulated in the first minutes of the school year. Actually, it was encapsulated in the first 30 seconds of the school year.

Here's how it went down.

The fourth grade is tiny. So tiny that, with the increased class sizes of the upper grades in our school district, all but eight of the fourth graders fit into one class. (The other eight are in a split fourth-fifth-grade class with a kick-ass teacher; they're the kind of kids who will do just fine there.) Add to that the fact that our school only posts classroom assignments on the morning of the first day of school, and you can just imagine the scene in front of the classroom, with 30-some 9-year-olds squealing and hugging and jumping all over each other in after-the-summer greetings.

And then there was N, standing over with Baroy and me by the parents, watching cautiously from somewhere behind my left hip. Not unhappy, really. Commenting that "all my friends are here!" but not joining in. Not saying hi to anyone. Not even responding when some of the kids threw him a greeting as they passed into the happy throng.

It was OK. Really. That's who he is, and it is OK.

And then it was time to enter the classroom, and he waited until the rest of the kids had formed a line before joining its tail end. He pulled on me; wanted Baroy and me to come in with him.

"I don't think fourth graders are supposed to have their parents come in with them," I said quietly. "See? All the other parents are staying outside the classroom."

He looked unhappy, mutinous. We walked alongside him toward the classroom door, and I held my breath. If he were to make a scene, if he were to refuse to go in without me...

And then we were at the door, and his teacher looked at Baroy and I and smiled, then leaned down to N. "N," she said. "I have all your stuff set up on your desk. It's right there, right in front, right next to where I sit. Your name is there, so you can find it. OK?"

And with that, he just...relaxed. Nodded, headed for the desk she'd pointed to, front and center, right next to the one girl he likes best. (Coincidence? I bet not.) Looked back at us, and smiled, waved. Waved us off; waved goodbye.

Outside the classroom, after watching the door close behind the teacher, Baroy and I looked at each other. Baroy doesn't cry easily, but he had tears in his eyes. As did I.

"Did she just do what I think she did?" he asked. "Did she just give him more accommodations than he got all of last year?"

"She's got him," I breathed. "She understands."

And that is why I don't need to tell you about our meeting. Because she gets him, N's fourth grade teacher. She understands. And that is really all that matters, for now. For the beginning. A good beginning.