In term two Joe begins to sit with the other students, but still doesn’t interact with anyone. He starts looking through his exercise book with some interest, but still doesn’t colour in the figures in the story. He shares his thoughts with a little more than one word answers – for this the volunteer teacher Ms K is very grateful!
As Ms K continues to engage with Joe and invites his participation, Joe begins to develop more confidence, he moves around the class a bit more, and increasingly participates in class activities. He still isn’t very vocal but seems to be more at ease with everyone.
It’s the 3rd week in term three when the classroom teacher shares with the Ms K that Joe’s mother is blind and he is the eldest of three children. His father is apparently away on business quite often. His grandparents live in another country, and his mother doesn’t have any outside help – Joe is the only one who helps her take care of the other children.
For Ms K this explains why Joe is so mature for his age. She begins to feel so much compassion for Joe as she reflects on what a beautiful gentle soul he is. His eyes tell a sad story words could not express. Now she could understand his insatiable desire to be seen – even though to an untrained eye everything he did would appear to be the opposite of what he was really needing.
It’s almost end of the year. As Ms K walks through the playground she watches with amazement as Joe runs around chasing friends in playing tips. At the end of year Christmas assembly the class teacher expresses how much she appreciated the volunteer teacher’s efforts for seeing Joe from a different perspective than what was commonly believed about him.
It’s often the small things we can do as teachers, friends, partners and colleagues that could make a big difference in someone’s life.
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