Monday, March 18, 2013
When building communities of care, Generativity helps to build mutually caring environments that focus on the contributions of each and the whole. When I reflect on how I bring about his mutual respect and care in my teaching, I thought about two parents that I have had the fortune to come to know over the years. We first crossed paths years ago when they had concerns about their daughter “Holly”. They knew she was struggling and were looking to me for help. They shared their beliefs on doing homework at night and I shared what I taught their daughter. As the years passed, it was clear that Holly was more than just behind in school. I was certain she has a reading disability. I couldn’t just come out and tell them this, so little by little I would share with them what I was seeing and how it was impacting her learning. At the same time, they would share with me all the exploratory learning they were doing at home. They let her direct her learning at home exploring topics that were of interest to her. They also would pull her out of school for several weeks a year to go on family driving trips. I always affirmed them on this practice, as we did the same for our sons. I found that kids, who have learning struggles, need to see the world first hand; thus, providing them the opportunity to visualize the topics they are learning about out of textbooks. Anyhow, this past year we really had many heart to heart talks about their daughter. I came out and told them I thought she needed alternative learning opportunities to be successful and that we should go ahead and get the testing. They began to open up with me about their experiences of school and her dad shared with me that he dropped out of school in the 8th grade. Obviously, that was a difficult thing for him to admit to me. He shared that he had a reading disability and that he was embarrassed that he couldn’t help his daughter. He didn’t get the help that I was purposing for Holly. As we talked with Holly, she didn’t understand what we were talking about. She asked me what was going on and I explained to her that she was a very capable girl, and she just needed the teachers to teach her in the way she learned best. That she could be a veterinarian s as long as she could have accommodations for her learning. She immediately began to cry. No one had ever told her at school that she could be successful; she could be what she wanted to be! At that moment, I got tears in my eyes. I knew, for Holly and her parents, I would always build up the capacity for generativity. Caring, appreciating, and celebrating each other by adding value to the whole would always be more important than the curriculum I would teach. Together Holly, her parents, and I each added value to the whole. I will always strive to build communities of care.