Know Thy Students

In this touching article in Middle Ground, Bowling Green State University professor Angela Falter Thomas frets as her daughter starts middle school. When she taught in a middle school, Thomas prided herself on knowing her students by giving questionnaires at the beginning of the year and chatting between classes, at lunch, at assemblies, and after school. Now she wonders:

– Will someone at the school be there for her daughter if she needs help?
– Will they do something if she is bullied?
– Will they know that she switched elementary schools the year before (due to her mom’s job change) and found the transition difficult?
– Will they find out that she has spent hundreds of hours volunteering in Ronald McDonald Houses and hospitals, “which has made her the sweetest and most compassionate young lady, but has also robbed her of her innocence”?
– Will they learn that she has lost hearing in one ear but doesn’t want the school to know so she won’t be treated differently?
– Will they find out that her older (and only) sibling died a few years ago and she’s never had counseling because she seemed to be okay?
– Will they learn that she wants to be a writer when she grows up and live in New York City, 500 miles from home?
– Will they nurture her love for writing?
– Will they give her “a gentle kick in the pants” if that’s what she needs?

“This beloved and treasured young lady is all I’ve got,” says Thomas. “She’s far from perfect, but I hope you will love her too and expect from her what you would from your own son or daughter.”

“Know Thy Students – Including My Daughter” by Angela Falter Thomas in Middle Ground, August 2011 (Vol. 15, #1, p. 19-20), http://www.amle.org

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