School started on Monday, and I've spent my afternoons meeting with parents informing us about special issues their child is dealing with that may affect them in the classroom. For instance, yesterday we met with a mom whose child is diabetic. We touched base on the challenges that go with that disease and the symptoms of low blood sugar. Today, we met with the parent of a dyslexic student. As the child's English teacher, I need this information.
I won't fuss at my diabetic student for not focusing. I'll ask her how she's feeling, and have her escorted to the office for a blood sugar check. I won't judge my dyslexic student for becoming frustrated when we read. I know the challenges these students face.
Food for thought. What if people out in the world came to us with labels? Would we be more understanding if we knew the challenges they faced? The guy who cut me off in traffic might be pre-occupied because his job is in danger or his hours have been cut. The bank teller might have snarled at me because her sister has cancer, and she's taken a turn for the worse.
I've made it my goal this year to be more patient with all my students. Most of their challenges don't come with labels that require meetings after school. I'm also trying harder to be more patient with people in general. Times are tough all over, and civility is often in short supply. It's been my experience that a smile and a little patience go a long way.