Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maybe I DO Make A Difference

I have acknowledged and almost accepted that I do not make a difference in the lives of children, especially working on the South Side. One the South Side, the class sizes are so big the kids get less one-on-one attention. The schools are so big the kids could go a month or more after moving onto the next grade without seeing you, and when they do it's like, "That lady looks somewhat familiar. I wonder if she works with my mom..." Having taught for four years at the Kindergarten Center, I found this to be especially true. The kindergartners go off to their "home school" and never see you again. One time I saw a girl two years after I taught her and I went to talk to her and her mother. Neither one recognized me, and actually ARGUED with me about having been her teacher. The kicker is she was the type of student I wouldn't "dream" of having. I really deserved a metal-or five to six tall ones at the end of the year with her. That was when Ethan was a baby and the last time I went up to a former student.
One the North Side, the schools are so small you can (and I did with many) teach all of the siblings in the same family. Also if you're willing to switch grades you teach the same kids for two years. Even though after TWO years Andy Panda still called me "Teacher" and I'd bet money he can't recall my name, but if I saw him at the Mall I know he'd sprint over to me and give me a hug while telling everyone around him, "She was my teacher. Twice."
Anyway, recently being re-located to the South Side and adopting my new bad attitude I've been proven wrong THREE TIMES!! I know- crazy- I'm never wrong!! The first time was when a girl from one of the other third grade rooms asked me if I used to teach at the K- Center. "Yes." "You were my brother's teacher!!" "Really? You were a newborn. I remember the day he came to school and announced he had a baby sister!!"
The second time was this week. I was walking to the office and a fifth grade stopped me. "Are you Mrs. Fairfield? Did you teach Kindergarten?" "Yes." "I was in your class- I'm Baily!" Oh my gosh! She was so grown up! I never would have recognized her (even if she wasn't wearing a stocking hat). The fifth graders don't fit in our school because of over-crowding so they go to the Middle School, but get to come back for after school activities. After telling her she's tall and asking how she could be so grown up, I asked her, "Are you here for open gym?" "I came for open gym, but now I'm going to do net books and I just got my last rabies shot today." Of course you're Baily!! Only Baily can make leaps like that and logically think those things are related. There was a time when I could totally catch up with her leaps and make perfect sense of them as well. While we were talking about the reason she's gotten "either 5 or 30" rabies shots, the fourth grade teachers walked by and Baily points at me and yells to them, "My Kindergarten teacher!" as if I'm some sort of exotic exhibit. It made me happy. I did make a difference. She remembered me. She can't remember how many rabies shots she just finished receiving, but remembers me. After I finished my chat with Baily I told her fourth grade teacher, Donna, that she remembered me. Donna told me I was her hairdresser's daughter's kindergarten teacher too, and she talks about me all of the time. I thought about it and that girl must be in eighth grade by now. All three kids were from the South Side. I didn't teach them for two years, and they didn't see me when they were in first grade, but the remembered me. Maybe I do make a difference.

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