Why Do We Remember the BAD Ones?

Today was my paperwork day. The one day a week where I sit down (my other days are spent almost entirely on my feet) for two straight hours in the morning and do paperwork, both by hand and on the computer.
As I go through the class lists on the forms I’m mentally ticking off in my head “I know that kid, I know that kid, I know that kid…” The names I don’t recognize get the same amount of attention as far as the paperwork goes, but there isn’t that same recognition process. I don’t give this much thought generally, but approximately three hours after I did my paperwork today I thought about another conversation I had today.
I was in the main office checking in and handing over the forms that needed further attention when a parent came in. We got into a conversation about the upcoming PTA fundraiser (she was actually there to drop off donations) and another (more active) member of the PTA introduced us. I did recognize her from being around at dismissal but did not recognize the child’s name. I stated that this was probably a good thing as I mostly know the names of the children that have had issues at school. Another of the school staff agreed that the fact that I didn’t recognize the name was a good thing.
I thought about this later on the way home from my shift and it occurred to me: wait a minute! Why should me NOT knowing someone’s child be a good thing? How much comfort can that really be to a parent: walking into the school and being told that one of the people who deals with the children in the school on a daily basis has no idea who their child is? As a parent I can’t see that as a good thing….all the staff and most of the PARENTS at my school know who my kids are!
I know a lot of children in the school, and sure, some of them I know for positive reasons, but in general if I know who YOUR kid is (especially if you don’t know who I am) than that’s a BAD thing. I wish I could say that this is because my job is targeted at the misbehaving children at the school, but I can’t. My job deals with ALL the students. Granted I deal with some GRADES more than others, but I deal with ALL the kids in that grade level.
I know children x, y and z because they CANNOT play together…they just don’t get along. I know that students a, b and c can’t sit next to each other because someone will end up in tears. I know that child f will need to be spoken to about “hands on” and child g will try to play with the ball when and where it isn’t appropriate. Yet I can’t tell you that child h sat in their seat, followed all classroom rules, got along with all the students in the class, helped child j when s/he tripped, was quiet, and listened when I was talking.
We do have a positive recognition program at our school and if a child stays in the “green” all day (does not need to be spoken to) they get a ballot for the monthly draw. Doing something actively positive can earn the child extra ballots. This is great, but doesn’t help the level of guilt I felt today. I still don’t KNOW who those children are.
I don’t remember the name of the child who I didn’t know this morning, but I feel like I owe her an apology. I feel like I owe all the children whose names I don’t recognize an apology.
Will this make any difference in who’s names I know? Probably not. Will I try to learn more names to go with the faces? Sure, I’ll TRY…but I probably won’t remember them. Will I continue to feel guilty that I don’t know these names? I’d bet on it. I hope the day never comes when I can NOT feel guilty for not knowing all the children in my care.
I’m sorry to all those children whose names I don’t know. I’m sorry to the parents of those children whose names I don’t know, but hey, I don’t know who your child is so at least that’s a good thing, right?


No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!


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4 Responses to Why Do We Remember the BAD Ones?

  1. monkiss says:

    I felt that keenly as a very shy top honours student for most of my k-12 education. no one knew who i was because i was so quiet, it was even written on my report cards annually. it’s pretty lonely when you don’t feel like the adults charged with your care don’t notice you. So thank you for being aware of that 🙂

  2. Pingback: Lots Goin’ On! | The J85

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