Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Complications to Learning

My daughter chipped a tooth during her swim lesson last night. She swam right into the wall and chipped off nearly half of one of her front, permanent teeth. It hurt, but not enough that she was willing to leave her swim lesson early. However, I took her to the dentist this morning and we couldn't get it fixed. She was terrified of what might happen and everything seemed to hurt her (I can't say how much really hurt and how much was the fear). It was quite a traumatic experience for her and for me.

Once back at school I had a lot of trouble focusing on my students. I was drained and still stressed about the tooth. I would guess she felt similarly.

A student of mine stopped me in the hall as we were heading to the dentist to tell me that her dog was gone. She was teary. I called a counselor who met with her first thing this morning. But I feel pretty confident that she's not doing her best learning today either.

Neither of these issues are life-shattering. We likely will hardly remember them in years to come. But they are impacting the learning happening here.

Too often when we discuss education and education policy we lose sight of the fact that students are people (as are teachers). We see numbers and forget there are faces, families, emotions, and histories behind each and every one of them. The numbers should be secondary to the people.

10 comments:

Jill Fisch said...

I'm sorry to hear that your daughter's tooth can't be repaired. You are right, though. This will not be such a big deal later. There are always so many factors that influence learning and most of them can't be "measured".

Sue VanHattum said...

I lost half a front tooth when I was young. They didn't want to cap it while my mouth was still growing. I hated how my school photos looked after that.

Good luck with the tooth. If it's at all possible to cap it soon, I think she'll appreciate having a whole-looking tooth.

Jenny said...

Jill & Sue, Apparently in my trauma I worded things poorly (which doesn't shock me). Her tooth can be repaired, I think. She just couldn't do it yesterday. She was too terrified and couldn't hold still. We'll be trying again on Monday. Thank you for the kind thoughts.

me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
me said...

What a tough day for everyone! And I know how it all affects learning (and teaching). I'm still not at my best after Mom's death at the new year - and teeth are SO traumatic. I have had this recurring image of tripping upstairs (something that I do) and falling and breaking my teeth. So my heart and stomach did a little jump at the thought of her broken tooth. Good luck! (and feel hug)
[sorry for the deleted comment- wanted to post as the me you would know]

Snippety Gibbet said...

My granddaughter, who is the same age as your little sweety, fell on her face a couple of weeks ago and broke her front tooth too. They had it repaired within a week or two. My daughter told me that the little one held up and was a real trooper, until she saw her Mom afterwards, and then crumpled into tears. I cannot imagine breaking a front tooth. I'd be an absolute mess.

My best to your little one.

Rebecca said...

I get sad and frustrated when our students become data points (which is happening more and more lately), rather than little people with real joys and struggles. Their life situations DO affect their learning.

Sarah said...

"The numbers should be secondary to the people" - AMEN!!

I hope the tooth situation improves! Poor thing...

Len said...

Many times a day I walk down the hall to pull a child, check on a homework assignment, to see how a student is faring to get sidetracked by someone (not on my caseload) who is experiencing a traumatic event. That's what gets my immediate attention--have empathy, Kleenex, lap and hugs, will travel. So worth the time.

Jenny said...

Kate, Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. The tooth doesn't seem to be bothering her much, but it looks pretty absurd.

Snippety Gibbet, I am amazed by the number of people who have chipped a tooth or have a close family member who has done so. I find it reassuring that it is so common. Hopefully by the time you see her in class on Tuesday all will be back to normal.

Rebecca, Exactly. Of course the people making the decisions could very likely not even begin to comprehend the life situations many of our students are living.

Sarah, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow morning's dental appointment. She has decided daddy should take her so I'm going to try not to think about it too much!

Len, So worth the time, I completely agree.