Go Ahead, Call!

A couple of days ago I posted how it really isn’t much fun to teach any longer.  Meetings, papers, tests, discipline (lack thereof), apathy, disrespect all work together to make my chosen profession challenging.  All professions are challenging I now, but teachers are charged with duties above and beyond what we contracted for, at least I think so.
Most of my time away from the classroom I am playing “catch up” and trying to do a myriad of things: plan, grade, email parents, call parents, and generally plan for the next event.  It is hard to stay focused and it can be very easy to lose sight of what is the most important thing and why we got into teaching in the first place.  But every now and then something happens that makes it clear, or to borrow a phrase from a great movie (A Few Good Men), “Crystal”.
I had been wanting to call this parent for a few days and between my feeling poorly and due to the fact that this was a “positive” phone call, the need didn’t seem as urgent as a negative phone call may have been.  But, I received an email from this mother and even though it was late (8:40) I decided to call so I wouldn’t forget.  I am glad I did.  Below is the email I received in return after the phone call:
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement towards xxxxxx. When we got off the phone it was great to report to xxxxxx and his Dad that xxxxxx is doing well in class and has been working hard. I also said that he needs to be studying and preparing for exams.
Sometimes parents and students need to hear words that are positive and up lifting. I really think as a result you have motivated xxxxxx to push harder for the future. xxxxxx would not like me to tell but he broke out in tears when I gave him the summary of our conversation. He said he just wasn’t feeling well but I believe it meant a lot to him. He is a good kid- challenging but well meaning. This has been a difficult school year for him. As you know he has had several illnesses, in January especially. More troublesome-his Grandmother has late stage Alzheimer’s, his special needs uncle has kidney disease and is on dialysis and since the holidays his grandfather is now showing rapid onset of Alzheimer’s as well. As of December, we’ve had to place all three of them in a home. He has been amazingly sensitive, responsible and compassionate. It’s been tough.
To make a long story short, I know xxxxxxx shortcomings and know there is room for improvement.  I very much appreciated you pointing out his positive, strong qualities. I know you weren’t feeling well but wanted to thank you for taking the time out to call. xxxxxx knows you believe in him and that will give him new confidence in himself and his ability. It’s amazing what a five minute. phone call can mean to a parent and child. I hope you pass this email on as this is truly what teaching is all about.
I agree with that last line with all my heart.  Until next time, peace!

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Todd