Monday, February 27, 2012

Junior High Teachers Who Care

by Kelley Lindberg

My friend Kim and I knew Junior High would be a learning experience – not just for our sons, but for us, too. Up until now, we’ve only had two teachers to worry about each year (one for the morning, one for the afternoon). But with Junior High, we would be dealing with seven teachers each. And our sons would no longer be in all the same classes, so the built-in buddy system would be gone. Would these seven teachers, who only have our sons for less than an hour each day, still be as concerned with their welfare as their elementary teachers? Would they remember to call us when they were planning a food-oriented lesson in class? Would they think about our sons when planning a field trip or a party?

With two-thirds of their first year of Junior High behind us now, the answer so far, thankfully, has been “yes.”

Kim and I have been asked to help come up with safe treats for two dances, a beginning-of-school carnival day, and several experiments. We’ve been invited to the classroom to help make safe smoothies and safe salsa. We’ve been asked about field trips and other activities. We’ve made Three Kings’ Cakes for in-class lessons on an important Spanish holiday. The administration has adjusted the boys’ schedules to make sure they had the same lunchtime so that they would have a buddy to sit with at the allergy table.

In short, despite all our worries, the Junior High teachers at our school have been everything we hoped.

Is it a perfect system? Of course not. We’re all human, and we all forget or make mistakes sometimes. But the energy and commitment to try to keep their classrooms allergy-safe seems sincere, and when something slips by, these teachers are quick to try to remedy it.

Can Kim and I relax? Ha. Right. We’re moms. Our job isn’t to relax – it’s to make sure everyone is as prepared as possible, so that problems seldom have an opportunity to crop up. A big part of the reason why these teachers are as proactive as they are is because Kim and I talk to them frequently, volunteer for them happily, and remind them patiently when we have to.

And all that preparation work we do has continued to pay off in the form of teachers who care, who try, and who make our sons feel included and welcome in the classroom.

Part of that attitude comes from the administration – we have a principal who supports us and isn’t afraid to remind her staff that food allergies are important in our school. But I think the bigger part is that we’re blessed with teachers who are teaching because they love the work and the kids. Most people simply don’t want anything bad to happen to a child in their charge, for any reason, at any time. Knowing that, it becomes much easier to reach out to those teachers and talk to them about our sons’ needs.

Now, if only our hormonally charged sons were that agreeable. But that's a whole different subject.

I know a lot of my blog followers have younger kids, and they probably worry about their kids’ future, like I do. So I thought maybe I’d send you this Postcard from Junior High to let you know that…knock on wood… so far, so good.

Meanwhile, I’m scanning the horizon for new worries, because that’s just the kind of mom I am. The next worrisome things on my radar? High school and dating. I’ll send you a postcard from there when we get to those hurdles. (Wish me luck!)

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