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!