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Thursday, January 19, 2023

What really matters in school?

What really matters in school Dr. Turner?  That we lead with love and humanity. 

I remember Maggie's mother at her daughter's IEP meeting. She sat quietly listening to us talk data and facts. I gave her the literacy data, even though it made no sense. Maggie is a Down Syndrome child. At one point she just started crying. I asked everyone to give us five minutes alone. 

I wasn't sure what to do, I just knew she needed sometime away from the the crowd. I decided to reach across the table, asked if I could hold her hand. We sat holding hands in silence for a few minutes until the crying stopped. I asked her to share what hurts...she said I am afraid Mr. Turner. Afraid that my Maggie is growing up, and she will never do well in school, in life, and never go to college like her siblings will. I am afraid she always need someone to talk care of her. To be honest I have bigger things to worry about than this meeting. 

I called everyone back into the conference room, and said no more numbers. Let us all talk about what we love about Maggie. No more data/numbers, just the good things about Maggie. The things we love about Maggie. 
She has the most beautiful smile,
She is the kindest person in our school,
She shares,
Her laugh is contagious,
She loves to dance,
She loves to sing,
She draws the most beautiful flowers,
She gives the best hugs,
Everyone just loves her,
She is like sunshine in a bottle,
She is smarter than anyone thinks.

I said this is the data that really matters, Maggie is going to surprise the world, graduate high school one day, and make everyone's life better. We brought you here today to say we love Maggie, she is doing fine, and we love her. She is a blessing to our school. 

Hugs and tears filled that room, and her mother left smiling. She said I always dread these meetings, but today I finally understand you know my Maggie, love her, and now I know she is in the best of hands.Thank you. 

Well, after that meeting things were different, and humanity and love ensured that Maggie shined. She inspired us to be better teachers. She did graduate high school, did get a job, but most of all her smile and love blesses everyone around her.  Maggie was the only data that mattered, and finally the adults got it. Maggie gave us our teaching hearts back. 

There is the data that matters, and there is the data that really matters. 
See the child, not the test scores,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
CCSU Literacy Center

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk today? It is the Play for Change cover of "Teach your children" >  < 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Celebrate all of our children.