My heart slowly relaxed as the familiar, mechanistic churning noise filled my ears. I had just gently pressed the blue “Start” button on the copy machine. “Thank goodness,” I thought. The wonderful, yet not always dependable friend we call The Copier, had been experiencing some issues as of late. So I was relieved beyond measure to know she was feeling better and would be able to produce the copies necessary for the teacher training I was planning.
Suddenly, I heard a voice next to me. “We need to talk.” I turned. It was my assistant principal. It struck me at that very moment that linguistically those words do not imply anything more than a general statement. Diagramming this sentence, really all we would come up with would be subject/verb/prepositional phrase, or something like that (it’s been too long since those mundane days!). And yet I noticed, “We need to talk” consistently strikes fear into my heart– especially when it is delivered by a superior in the workplace.
“Um, okay,” I stammered.
“I have some concerns,” she added. Okay, now if my anxiety hadn’t been linguistically justified before, it probably had a pretty strong case now. I grabbed my copies and followed her to her office. The door closed behind me, and I heard the metal blinds ominously rattle behind me as it clicked shut. Once inside, my assistant principal, facing me directly, began explaining that she had attended an important meeting on a student recently. And when searching for an important piece of information regarding the student’s reading records, she had come up empty. Silence. Pause. “So do we have this information?” she asked, looking me- the Reading Consultant- straight in the eye.
“Yes, we have that,” I responded. Phew.
After a brief search of our Google drive and a physical file cabinet, we discovered that we had both a spreadsheet and a physical record. At that point, my AP and I looked at each other and– I am going to admit– felt pretty good. This kid had not “slipped through the cracks”, as the saying goes. Decisions could now be made in future meetings that were based on real data we had collected on the student. We had not missed him.
As teachers, mentors, parents, guardians, specialists, and administrators, we need to realize our jobs matter. Each of the students under our purview possess incredible potential. And knowing that, each of them must be taken seriously, because the educational decisions we make for each child should be based on what we know about them already. It is about being responsive not to some outside force, but to each individual child.
I can’t say we will get it right each time, because let’s face it– working with kids is hard. It just is. But it was nice to know we got it right this time.