Single Parent Educator Chooses to Homeschool (Part 3)
In last weeks post about my single parenting decision to homeschool my son, I mentioned that educators usually have their antennas up when it comes to the offspring of other educators. It is a trust of sorts, I find that other educator’s will often look out for each other’s children. It is just natural to look out for the children of other colleagues. We give so much of ourselves to children in general, but our children understand that aspect of our occupation. . . sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad.
Well, when my son entered the 4th grade, he was part of a teaming inclusion class with a lead teacher and a special education teacher. They were also allotted teaching aides for this special education accommodation. My son had been doing extremely well since entering public school, but the level of difficulty escalated at the upper elementary level. His lead teacher was something else though – stricter and very demanding. This did not work well with his learning challenges, and he shut down.
His personality changed, and the excuses to skip school, feign illness became rampant. This teacher called me directly at 7:00am one morning demanding that I do my share of the agreement. The nerve. . .she caught me when I was getting ready for work. I was told by this teacher that it was my responsiblity to check on his homework and ensure he completes it. She accused me of not doing my job (as a parent, as a teacher)! The lies began, his excuses mounted, and I grew angrier, and more defensive.
While I consider myself a fairly strict teacher myself, with my own set of expectations, I can be very firm with my students as well. I also teach pre-teens, so my classroom management can be a little different with nurturing and reprimand. However, I did not expect my own son to come home feeling defeated by his own teacher.
She took away his recesses. Demanding he sit on the bench and watch his friends play. She did not work with him during recess to make up late work or missing assignments, but punished him instead, when he really just needed her help. She told him that he was not allowed to attend an end of the year event for 5th graders, before entering middle school. This was to be their last hoorah before moving on to the middle school.
I have used my fair of tactics to get through to a student, recess detention, phone calls home, but I didn’t realize how this type of tactic affected my own son. And I did not do it intentionally to make my students afraid or cry. I was livid, but I gave this teacher the benefit of the doubt. After all, I can relate to being a frustrated teacher.
Then one night, the teacher’s aide from his classroom called me at home crying and apologizing. She explained that some of the more challenging students in the inclusion class were “much worse” than my son, and needed her help, because they had more severe behavior problems. The special education teacher was too occupied with a similar child with more needs and monitoring. My son, was a well-behaved child, who suffered with a reading disability, and so was often overlooked.
He was left to the hands of the lead teacher, who kept to her high expectations, and did not accommodate for my son’s learning needs. As an educator, I understand that it wasn’t her main job, as that modification belonged to the special ed teacher, who was obviously busy with another student but I was more surprised that this teacher’s aide felt the need to call me up and apologize. Apparently, she was fed up with his mistreatment by her and begged me to talk with my son.
I had a serious talk with my son that night, and he let it all spill out. He had been missing school purposefully more often with a sore tummy, or a headache. We’d argue each morning just to get him to school. When I did manage to get him to school, he’d escape to the health room, skip class and then a family member would get a call to pick him up for his stomach ache or “illness.”
That’s when it hit me. He was being bullied by his own teacher, and it made me furious! I pulled him out of that school the very next day, not knowing the consequences, if any. I took a giant leap of faith.. . . I didn’t know where to turn, or what to do, but I also wanted to retaliate. How can a fellow teacher do this? I learned to let my anger go, and bring healing to my son. So I pulled him out and unschooled him for the last quarter of his 5th grade year.
Even though I am an educator, and it being my bread and butter, the whole public education system gives me a paycheck, but it will never override what I know is best for my own son. Have you made some tough decisions about your child’s education too? I’d love to know.