Aren’t they just great? I love these moments as a mother and I’m loving them as a teacher ALREADY and I’m still not a real one. OK so my tutors would tell me off for saying that, I AM A TEACHER, I AM!
I had a breakthrough moment on placement today when I managed to get 4 of the most resistant students (haha, resistant..I’m so good at using more PC words these days) to not only begin but complete assignments. Not only their achievements but the ripple effect it had on the class was just wonderful to see.
I love breakthrough moments, I think it comes from my early London years, sorry but I’m going to digress, leave now if you want.
Not a lot of people know this but when I first moved to London as a young girl I worked as a nanny, I loved kids, I’ve been an auntie since I was a year old and had been surrounded by babies all my life, my family popped them out like gremlins. (Some of them actually looked the part too)
So it seemed a good move, get a job living with a family for a few months, look after their kids, have money in my pocket, safety, somewhere to live and a base from which to launch myself onto the streets of gold. (Remember I said a few months that’s important)
It’s a long story how, but I ended up accidentally working with a 4 year old boy, from a very wealthy family who had so many blessings, but money couldn’t buy them a cure for his severe autism which affected him mentally and physically.
He’d been written off by experts (and their money paid for ‘the best’) as never likely to even hold a pen let alone read and write. His fine motor skills were terribly under developed due to his claw like, permanently tensed fingers, his diction made his speech almost incomprehensible and his head shaking made his already poor eyesight even worse, his in-turned right leg made him very clumsy and awkward and his uncanny ability to poo himself on the Tube between stops unleashing a stench which the London Dungeon would have paid handsomely for all made his future prospects pretty dismal.
So to cut the long story short, I became so attached to him, even though I was afraid of him at first and wanted to run away screaming when I met him (I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but I’m being honest, I’d never been close to anyone with a disability at all let alone so severe and my ignorance frightened me) and because I hated the way his family just threw money at him rather than time, I ended up staying there for years. Even after I was married I was still reluctant to move out and even though I worked on my own career I still continued to live with the family and do baby sitting stints and take holidays with the kids. (The freebies were not my motivation to stay I promise :P)
It was only when I found out that I was expecting my own miracle baby (told I’d never have any and didn’t possess the family gremlin popping abilities when I was 17 so this came as a big shock) that I had to move on but always staying in touch of course.
I adored that boy, he was my ‘first’ child. I named my own son after him years later as a nod to my gratitude for what I had learned from him about children, life, parenting, ability, labels, love, time, devotion, underestimation, wanton categorisation of humans, patience, kindness, discrimination, prejudice, trust, ignorance, dependence, humility … just SO much, I can’t even list it all without my heart welling and my eyes filling with tears at the memories which have influenced me as a mother and which now I take into teaching.
Cliche time winding up to the moral of the story: We learn more than we teach: The student is our teacher. It’s so true and I love learning and am loving having the chance as an oldie to learn yet more from yet more wonderful young people and I’m still loving breakthrough moments, just when you thought you’d done it all and seen it all.
Oh the little lad…within 2 weeks of meeting him he was writing his name (those were a long two weeks), he learned to read within just 4 months and once he learned he never stopped, he ate up books and graduated Manchester University with a 2.1 in Physics and now lives there independently currently as a trainee science teacher. Breakthrough indeed. Happy Days 😀