Friday, February 19, 2010
Front of the Class
I was just commenting on another blog and it reminded me of the movie Front of the Class, that my 7th graders just watched a while back...
Just two weeks ago the middle school where I teach showed the Hallmark movie, Front of the Class to our student body. It is about a boy reflecting on his life with Tourette Syndrome. The movie hit me like a ton of bricks. First, we showed it theday after a friend happened to pass me the link to an amazing blog of a mommy whose new precious gift has Ds. This woman is amazingly gifted in photography and writing and the blog entry I read was her daughter's birth story. She too found out after her daughter was born. Anyway, so flashbacks of Cameran's birth and all of my similar raw emotions were replaying in my mind, so I was already an emotional wreck. Second, it has such a powerful message that I cried--sobbed--through the majority of the presentation. At one point the boy sitting in the back of the auditorium looked at me and asked if I was okay and if he could get me a tissue. I thanked him and said I would be alright.
Flashforward to my first class after the movie when we were expected to having class discussions and reflections about what was viewed. I called in my team's Learning Support co-teacher to lead our discussion because I knew I couldn't make it through discussing the movie without breaking down once again. (Not only is our LS teacher great with his students, he is also a pseudo-uncle to our daughter as we are family friends.) See, there are pictures of my daughter ALL around my classroom. I had not told my students about Cameran having Ds because they do not need to know. She is my daughter. Period. BUT...there was something magical about that movie that made it okay. With the help of the other teacher we educated my classroom of regular education students about how some disabilities are easily seen, like the man with Tourette's, while others are not noticeable on the outside, such as someone with a learning disability. We talked about how the words they use, esp. use of the "r" word as slang, etc., may affect someone even if they do not realize it. At that point I passed out pictures of my daughter to each row and began my story. Our story. I told them how I worry that she won't be accepted by everyone as she grows older, and how she is like everyone else, but you can see her difference like the man in the movie. And it felt good. And I cried all over again, completely defeating the purpose of having that additional teacher in the room with me, but they connected. One girl raised her hand and shared that when she and her parents saw my husband and daughter and I in a furniture store one weekend, her mom has noticed that "something was different" and that Cameran was a beautiful baby. People understand. Good people understand. And you know what? That room of 7th graders now understand that all ANYONE-disability or not- wants, is to be accepted.