Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A School Story

Perhaps you don't know where I teach or what kind of children and parents I deal with. I LOVE my school and I LOVE my kids. I teach in a Title 1 school, which means over 70% of our school population lives below poverty and qualifies for free or reduced lunch. I definitely don't teach at an "inner city" school, but I have children from all types of families. A.L.L. types of families.

This morning I happened to run into one of my moms (do you remember THIS story?) who is clearly expecting another baby...this one is number 6. Five daddies. Six kids. A.L.L. types of families.

I happen to really like this mom and I adore her little boy. We'll call him Daniel.

Me to Mama: Hey! Did Daniel tell you he was on our TV for having such good character? He represented our class for friendship!

Mama: Nah...he don't tell me that.

Me: We're so proud of him. He's always so kind to his friends and gets along with everyone. If he notices someone on the playground is alone, he joins them. He's just precious.

Mama: (smiling) Yeah...he a good kid. But, I noticed he kinda dumb.

Me: (trying not to choke) He's not dumb! I have noticed that he's struggling some. He's so cute that he thinks he can get away with not giving me much effort.

Mama: M'Benson, my other kids be bad, but they be SMART! Daniel...he so different. He be so good all the time, but he be dumb! (This is COMPLETELY true. My school is a magnet school and two of her children have been kicked out because of their behavior! But they are smart. Really smart.)

Me: Please don't say he's dumb! And certainly don't tell him that! We might want to think about letting him repeat kindergarten. It certainly would help him, but I think he knows more than he's showing me. He just grins at me when I ask him something. When I correct his behavior, he just gives me that sweet grin.

Mama: I put him at the table wit his big sister. Now, M'Benson, she can teach those other children (she's in 4th grade, by the way...and the little mama in the home) anything they need to know. When she work with Daniel, he just sit there. He don't care nothing about learnin' from her. He just don't care. I'm telling you...he dumb. I know he cute and I'm glad he be good at school, but he dumb. We even do dat ting you said about givin' him some shavin' cream and lettin' him spell his words. M'Benson, he don't even know he letters! How he gonna ever learn anyting if he don't know he letters??

Me: (flabbergasted...I don't think I've ever heard a mama telling me that her child is dumb!) Ms. Dumb-Mama, let's get together and work on this. Let's have a conference and make a plan for Daniel. I just don't think he's dumb. I think he can learn everything we need him to know. I'm thankful that his sister can work with him. I'll give you some other ideas to help him.

Mama: Oh, thank you, M'Benson. I know you can help dat boy. He sho' do love you and he sho' do love comin' to school. I don't want him to be dumb. I don't want him to be bad and smart either.

At this point, I literally had to walk away. When I got to my room, I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. As much as it broke my heart to hear her calling her own child dumb, I know that mostly that's a cultural difference. It's her way of recognizing that he's struggling in school and that she needs some help for him.

Disclaimer: After I typed this and was ready to post, I realize this might ruffle some of your feathers. Please don't let it. Take it as a funny story that was shared.


Arizaphale said...

Yup. In her own way, she hit the nail on the head! :-D Thank goodness he has you and his big sister to give him that extra bit of attention.

Kyla said...

Aww, I think I love Daniel. I bet Daniel is so quiet because he's used to being around all of his rowdy siblings...he probably sits back and lets them do most of the talking. I bet he'll get there.

Allyson said...

Hysterical! I seriously could visualize this as I read it. Thanks for sharing.