I don't envy you. I've worked in the schools this year and I have watched the defiant, unruly children who challenge you. I've seen how your hands are tied- you can barely discipline without a parental complaint or challenge. Some of these children have never been taught to respect authority, to listen to instructions, or to sit still. And you are expected to manage those few children along with a classroom of other students.
You also might have a child like my daughter in your class: sweet, quiet, studious, and shy. She always sits when told, stands quietly in the line, and never disobeys. You may be overjoyed to have a non-trouble maker in the mix. Though she has a gentle smile on her face and does as she's told at school, she secretly harbors her anxiety and fear all day. At night, she comes and curls up next to me and tells me about her worries, troubles, and problems. At school, she doesn't cry, complain, or demand attention. She, like so many other "quiet" kids, gets strategically placed between two trouble makers to mitigate the naughtiness. She has only had a few weeks all year where she sat next to another little girl.
She's not entirely miserable at school: she loves art class, writing, and reading. She has a couple little friends whom she enjoys as well. She's not perfect either- I know she is forgetful and doesn't always hear the teacher's instructions accurately. As my parents are teachers, I have been hesitant to be the "helicopter mom" who constantly wants my child to be happy. I have let my daughter struggle and learn; I have challenged her to become more assertive and direct. Today she came to me and said, "My teacher is tired of me asking questions." My first instinct was to immediately side with the teacher and I asked a litany of questions, "Are you following the directions? Do you listen to her instructions the first time? Are you not paying attention?"
She agreed she would try to make sure her questions were valid and important; however, the more that I have analyzed the situation, I began to wonder. My daughter waits until independent work time to approach her teacher; she asks her simple questions such as "Should I use a pen or pencil?" or "Can you tell me the phonics directions again?" The teacher gets understandably peeved when her "down time" is interrupted by her one quiet kid. But my kid is the shy one; this is the one time she feels comfortable approaching her teacher. Maybe she is seeking encouragement, wanting to engage in one conversation, or needing reassurance. Maybe she simply longs for one, positive interaction with the teacher.
My child gets anxious when the teacher reprimands other students, she feels guilt for when her classmates misbehave. She quietly does her work while other students goof off. She never needs to be acknowledged- but maybe she deserves to be once in awhile. Maybe she needs to have her simple questions answered with a smile, a polite word, and a quick conversation. I know you may be overwhelmed by the naughty, disrespectful students in your classroom. I don't envy you, but I do implore you not to ignore the good ones. They need you too.
Easy Rule #432423- Sometimes a mother has to be the protective mama bear to ensure your child gets a fair chance.