It has been an interesting few weeks on Twitter. I have participated in a few chats and by coincidence a recurring question has been asked of me: who are you? how could I know more about you? So I thought I would share a snippet about what makes me tick and how that has influenced who I am and my teaching.
I was born to Holocaust survivors, not those imprisoned in camps, but in hiding and on the run in Poland during the war. Both sides of my family have seen atrocities unimaginable. I won’t dwell on that here, but suffice to say how any of them survived really is a miracle. And then the war was over. My parents ended in displaced persons camp and started to dream about making a new life. Many of their siblings survived and our extended family grew! I was the first born after the war and I was greeted like an angel on earth, a miracle of rebirth and survival; no, more than survival, but a look to the future, to live and flourish. As with many survivors, my parents choose to move on and not burden us with their past, looking forward and not dwelling on what might have been. One could say I was a princess, protected and spoiled; never knowing the hardships my parents endured. Life was not easy and it took many sojourns till my family settled down in Montreal. Here I blossomed, a child among many, nothing special, just like my friends. Then my father died when I was ten and I became “special/different” again; (nothing I ever sought, hell bent on being like my peers).
Fast forward and we are in Los Angeles with aunts, uncles and cousins. I am in school, surrounded by friends and teachers who understand me; eager to guide me. Then love hits and I marry, quickly starting a family (schooling never completed, college forever beckons me). My son and daughter in school and I am lost. I try office temp work, knowing that will never be for me. I have an Associate of Arts degree and want oh so much more. A friend introduces me to a school, “a good fit” setting she says. I try it out as a summer job, an aide in a toddler program. I am in love. I thrive. I find who I am meant to be. Once again I am back at school getting a BA in Human Development. After a few years on to my Masters of Art in Psychoanalytic Approach to Child Development and my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. (I share these degrees to explain my academic background/influence, but with an understanding that my experience and something in my inner being had tremendous impact on my my teaching.) And I am a teacher. Then begins a work relationship that continues to this day! This is my calling. I teach toddlers, three year olds, and four year olds. I am a Lead/Head Teacher. I watch and learn from my students. My education, my experience, my hands on approach to learning provides a safe environment for all of us; and it serves me well. I have worked with many happy parents, enjoying their children ready to let them go off and grow. I also have also spent time with the fearful parents. I listen to them. I understand their anguish and concerns when they know something is just not clicking. I can identify. I have first hand experience. I listen and recognize cries for help. An advocate for my students, I am forthright and honest with the parents; working together to ease their unease. So much rests on the shoulders of the children. (I identify once again.) I am now in kindergarten, an advocate for my Kinders; still trying to ease the unease. I don’t pretend that things are fine (when concerns are voiced), but know some children need the gift of time. And I recognize some will benefit from support and intervention, to ease their road. When I speak with parents, I listen to more than their words, I try to see the whole picture. That what goes unsaid, untold, inadvertently influences and molds the adult in the child. I can identify with that. I realize we all carry a lot of baggage. How we use it becomes the crux of the matter: does it debilitate us or do we mold it to make it a strength in our character? I am shaped by my past experiences, but what I do and how I approach life defines me now.