Today I was called something that bothered me to my core. The longer it sat with me the more it ate at me. The principal came to me and asked me about a situation with a child who I will call Cameron. I had no idea what she was talking about so I asked her who his homeroom teacher was (I see around 800 kids a week and in my brain I store things by teacher). When she told me whose class he was in I then knew when I saw that child. I racked my brain trying to recall if anything happened. Well something had happened but not with Cameron. Two other boys were having issues with each other and so after that class I talked to their teacher about the situation. She confirmed that the two boys had been having issues with each other and they were in the process of working to find a solution.
I told the principal about the issue with the two boys but that I didn't know about a situation with Cameron. She said that she had just gotten off the phone with Cameron's mom and that he had told her that he came to me and said Evan (one of the two boys that I was having issues with) was bothering him and that I didn't do anything about it. I honestly couldn't remember him coming to me. I'm not saying he didn't but if he did he didn't act too concerned about it because I would have remembered. Keep in mind that when you work with elementary kids you have kids constantly tattling over big and small things. As teachers we can't make a deal out of every thing. I'm sure there are times when we should delve deeper into something. It's just difficult. You try to take care of the situation quickly and get back to things. You don't know how many times I hear "she won't stop looking at me" or "he said he ain't my friend anymore". There just isn't enough time to discipline every little thing. You have to quickly decide if something is a it'll be okay and keep teaching situation or a I need to stop and look more into what is going on.
The first thing that bothered me was thinking that Cameron had really been upset and I didn't catch it. I never want my students to think I don't care. With so many students it is hard to get to know them all really well but I really try. I've known Cameron since he was in kindergarten and now he is a fifth grader. I've always called him "Pretty Eyes" because the boy has gorgeous eyes and the eyelashes that people pay great money for. Cameron also has a favorite type of books and I would always put those to the side for him. I never would have thought he would think that I didn't care.
Okay so what really got to me and still bothers me is that his mom called me a racist. See Cameron is black and Evan is white. Those are hurtful words and for me as a teacher who loves all her students it really bothered me. Of course there are students that tend to act up and you say a little prayer that they act their best self when they walk in the door but I love them all. They are kids for Gods sake...you can't help but love them. I always keep in my mind to treat my students the way I want my son to be treated.
What I really hate is that this woman, who I have never met, would use such harsh words to describe me based on something I didn't even know about. Those words should not be thrown around so easily. Did Cameron tell her about all the great things I have done for him? I'm guessing not or she would have thought differently. I'm taking him not telling her the good as a positive because that means he finds them normal. I want my students to all feel special, so special, that special feels normal.
It does worry me that this mother might express her thoughts to others. It would kill me to know that others might take her word as the truth. My biggest worry is that their kids might hear this and think that I have hate in me and that I'm just pretending to love them.
I share this with you all as a reminder that words (even those not spoken directly) can be hurtful. When we bash someone's character we need to stop and really think if those words are really true and should be spoken. The person on the other side of those words just might be left with a feeling of pain that can't be easily erased.
For me, I will use those nasty words as a positive and work even harder to show all my students that they are special, loved, and important.
Has anyone ever said anything about your character that wasn't true that bothered you deeply?