This week was Teacher Appreciation week. Like a good parent, I made sure our boys participated in the daily activities. They brought flowers, they wore baseball caps (“hats off to teachers”), they wrote a nice sentence or word about their teachers, they wrote cards, etc, etc.
As the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week approached, I made sure I got all of the gift cards ready. I had to buy several. I had them laid out last night as I wrote a hand-written note to each teacher and specialist. Each one. Hubz’s eyes bulged from their sockets. “How many of these do we have?” “Thirteen”. “Seriously?!” “Yes. It takes a village, my man. A village.”
I had a little cramping in my hand from writing so many notes. However, it was worth it. While we have had our differences with various staff members, I still am ever grateful for all that they do for our boys. It cannot be easy to modify curriculum, make sure accommodations are being honored, and seeing to it that a stubborn four year old is learning his alphabet. We may not always see eye-to-eye on everything, but I do respect them for their dedication and hard work.
Jake may not act out, and we never hear about negative behavior. However, he requires a lot of redirection, check-in, and encouragement. A lot. If he’s on the right path, he needs to be told that, and encouraged to keep going. If he gets confused, he needs to be shown what is supposed to be done. He processes information differently…he is a little slower than an average child, but given the time, he answers the questions correctly. It can’t be easy for the general education teacher to be able to give him what he needs while she’s juggling 20-some other students and their needs, as well. Somehow, it has been happening. Since our struggles mid-year, Jake is coming along. He struggles, yes, but he is also finding areas of success. And when he does get those good grades, oh, how he beams. His pride is evident.
Tate is impulsive, and wants to blow through everything. He’s smart, too, which means that even when he blows through it, he often gets it right..but he misses the concept, and it often needs to be retaught. He requires constant one-on-one help to get through academic tasks. We are absolutely appreciative of his teacher’s ability to tailor the curriculum to each child’s needs. His special education teacher has a knack for customizing the curriculum for each child so that he or she can learn it and retain it. She is amazing. She is patient, strict about adhering to the IEP and BIP, and she doesn’t let Tate use his cuteness to skip out of the hard stuff. As a result, he has made huge gains and is hitting his goals. Whoohoo!!!
Cole is a bundle of energy. He is also such a sponge. He loves to learn. He is full of “why” and “how” and “what” questions. He also retains the knowledge. He is also stubborn and doesn’t always want to learn his letters or apply the phonics he is learning…but he’s getting there. We are grateful that his teacher has been able to harness his energy and love of learning to get him where he is today. When he entered preschool this year, he knew a few letters, a few numbers, and barely knew his name. Now, he is doing much, much better. She recommended him for kindergarten..and we know her hard work is behind much of his success.
The aides in Tate and Cole’s classrooms are wonderful. I don’t know how they keep it together with all of the demands, but they do. They are patient and caring. We never worry about our boys in those rooms, because they really do care for our babies as if they were their own. And even better? They treat our kids with respect. These aides should give lessons to other aides. They just do it right.
The specialists that work with Tate and Jake deserve credit, too. Our boys aren’t always keen about going to OT, but she has been working harder at pushing them to their abilities..and we are seeing results. Both Tate and Jake are progressing. Tate’s handwriting is getting much more legible, and Jake is more comfortable with his assistive technology. Jake isn’t fighting his OT weekly, either, which is progress. The social worker gets both boys to work through their anxiety. She helps them through the tough stuff (like socializing and conversation). She knows when they need the law laid down, and when they need a big hug. She is nothing short of amazing. Oh, and the speech therapist…she’s young, and energetic, and full of great ideas. Our boys really enjoy speech this year…which is awesome! This is the first year in a long time where Jake is meeting speech goals. Tate has met his, too. She has a way of getting through to them, and I love that they are comfortable with her. I really hope she is back next year!! (It probably doesn’t hurt that she’s a cute little thing, too.)
So, while we can’t give the teachers and specialists what they are truly worth monetarily, I hope that they know that we would if we could. They are helping our boys find their way in this crazy world, and we are grateful for what they do for them. We are blessed that our boys have the teachers that they do, and that they have support staff that are able to handle their needs, as well. I hope they understand how much this family appreciates them…