I work with students who need more care than most. Today a disruptive student was taken aside to see if we could find the cause of their agitation. We could have just reacted and punished them, but we chose to listen. The student was upset becaus they had just learned a big secret about Santa. The student was acting out because they thought knowing the truth means they will not get any presents this year. The student’s family only had enough money buy a present from Santa. The student thought the knowledge would cost them their Christmas gift. The student couldn’t see that their parents loved them so much that they would use their money to help keep the magic of Santa alive even if that meant making their kid think they wouldn’t give them gifts.
If we had reacted with punitive action for the student’s behavior we would not have been able to show the child how much their parents loved them. If we did not demonstrate care instead of authoritarian controm we would not have been able to salvage Christmas for a child. Working with the children that have run out of chances in their life and knowing that we are their last chance at learning and growing is one of the best experiences, but it takes a toll on your emotions in ways that could never imagine.
Being an educator means caring so much for children that you are willing to share their pain so that they don’t have to carry it alone. Working in special education means that and asks you to give even more everyday just to make small steps others might not see. I have argued with police to keep a kid from going to jail. I have cried with pride when a student has progressed enough to return to their home school. I was proud of their work, but I was also afraid for them and what returning could do to their progress.
Today, I responded to anger by listening. Today, I responded to fear by demonstrating compassion. Today, I helped teach a kid that the magic doesn’t go away when you learn the secret of Santa. Instead, you become a part of the magic as you help others believe. I am an educator.