Let His Best Be Enough

The irony is not lost on me. My son has special needs and I have been a special education teacher since 2000. (with a two year break in there after having Evan) I also have my certification to be a Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant. (the learning consultant on a child study team)

I taught for 11 years before having my son (now three years old) and all of those year were spent with elementary school age children with varying degrees of need.  Whether I wanted to or not, I gained a truckload of patience that I didn’t have prior to being a teacher. I learned how to see the talents in a child, rather than focus on the deficits.  I learned how to pick my battles with oppositional students.  I discovered that a huge part of being an educator is the relationships you develop with the parents of your students. It has never been my strong point, contacting parents and having difficult conversations about their children. I tend to avoid confrontation and I have never felt confident making those difficult phone calls. Even when I know my points are valid.

But I never imagined how different I would feel when I sat down this past spring to write an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for one of the students I teach.  I hadn’t written one since the months before I delivered Evan.  I typed up a sentence about this particular student, one that described his dependence on his teachers and one of his weaknesses.  After my fingers clicked away, entering the sentence into the system, I found myself feeling uncomfortable. I reread the sentence approximately five times.  I realized that I was trying to imagine what I would feel like if Evan had that sentence written in his IEP.  Would I appreciate the wording? Would I agree with the observation?  Is it necessary?? Here I was wearing my teacher hat, but my mama bear hat was sewn into the brim and there was no stopping her.  And this same feeling occurred with each IEP I wrote. I thought longer about each objective. I scrutinized each comment. Was I being thorough? Is the objective measurable and clear?

I also found myself feeling more guilty when I would become frustrated with one of my students. After giving the same direction numerous times, and day after day needing to give the same reminders, I found myself becoming short and visibly agitated with one of my students. This particular student is not easily ruffled and it didn’t seem to phase him one bit. Which of course led me to feel more guilt. I can remember sitting at my desk eating my lunch and thinking, “Erin, that child is doing the best he can with what he has.” and my next thought was, “God, please let Evan’s teachers realize that about him.”

“Please let him try his best, and let his best be enough for his teachers.”

20140716_123140Boom.

One of those moments where you feel like Oprah should appear in the doorway saying, there it is! Your AHA moment!

I need to listen to that little voice inside me that prayed that Evan’s best would be enough for his teachers at school.  I need to accept Evan’s best efforts as well.  Not to say that I should not have high expectations for him and help him to strive to rise to the occasion.  But when he does, when he is trying his very best to use all he has to accomplish something and it is just not working out the way it is supposed to….I need to realize that it is enough. His effort is enough. HE is enough.  The word combinations he is making today is enough. The attention span that causes him to flit from one activity to the next- it is enough. The sensitive hearing that has increased in the past month, it is enough.

I just don’t want him to lose his spark.

20140708_120454

zest for everything

Please let his teachers fuel the spark. Inspire him to try his best.

And let me do so with my students.

Let my best be enough.

12 Comments on Let His Best Be Enough

  1. Megan
    August 11, 2014 at 9:15 pm (3 years ago)

    This is so well written Erin! You’re a fabulous teacher and an even more fabulous mom. <3

    Reply
  2. Erin Putman
    August 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm (3 years ago)

    Megan, thank you so much for your kind comment! I feel inspired by you all the time at school.

    Reply
    • Megan
      August 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm (3 years ago)

      Aww that’s so sweet of you Erin! I am looking forward to being more of a support to everyone this year. =)

      Reply
  3. Tammi
    August 11, 2014 at 9:30 pm (3 years ago)

    Once again, Erin, terrific entry! You are such a wonderful writer! I love reading your blog! You are amazing!

    Reply
  4. Jamie
    August 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm (3 years ago)

    Wonderful perspective! Inspiring. <3

    Reply
  5. Melissa
    August 11, 2014 at 9:44 pm (3 years ago)

    Sigh. Although any post that mentions Oprah gets an A+ from me, this is so powerful and moving. I also pray that R’s best will be enough for all the people in her life, and that she doesn’t lose her spark, but she has also taught me that other people are doing their best too, and it needs to be enough for me. She has made me a much more patient, and better, co-worker, friend, and customer in line at starbucks. Love this, Erin, you are such a gifted writer and teacher and mama.

    Reply
  6. erin
    August 11, 2014 at 9:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Beautiful Erin!

    Reply
  7. Karen
    August 12, 2014 at 5:17 am (3 years ago)

    Erin your insight is beautiful… Trust me Evan’s best will always be your inner peace and his light will shine and will set the world on fire <3

    Reply
  8. Sarah K.
    August 12, 2014 at 8:08 am (3 years ago)

    A beautiful reminder for all of us.

    Reply
  9. Kristi Campbell
    August 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm (3 years ago)

    So beautiful and SO SO true. I actually may have raised my voice in my son’s IEP meeting (to transition him from preschool autism classroom to kindergarten – mainstream with support). I may have said “ARE YOU KIDDING?” a little loudly. Luckily, his PAC teacher was there, calmed me down with a simple touch (because those are the gifts), and asked the principal if she’d rather have more support hours (they were going to not support him in music and PE HAHAHAHAH doh), and well, we got pretty much all we wanted. I felt like enough, and I know his teachers did too.
    Also this is a tangent completely off-topic but I love that you know it’s enough and that you consider the parent’s feelings in IEP sentences. Let’s face it. There’s no easy way to read that my kid is at 1% for fine motor. But there are compassionate people to hear that from. xxoo Erin. Seriously.

    Reply
  10. Astrid
    September 26, 2014 at 8:58 pm (3 years ago)

    This is such a wonderful perspective. It is great that you can relate to your students because you’ve been there. I like for example that some of my nurses in a psychiatric institution have disclosed their past struggles with mental illness (without going into detail). It makes them more relatable.

    Reply
  11. Janet
    December 31, 2014 at 7:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Erin, your perspective is so inspiring! You should be so proud of yourself as a mom and teacher, and of Evan who’s such a special little boy. I love the picture of Evan resting his head on his arms…..so precious!

    Reply

Leave a Reply