This has been a crazy year. New job, new position, completed my administration internship, took my administrative test, lost a beloved family pet, and gained a new puppy. Amy says I’m insane all the time and I now believe her.

We lost Choochy back in November. He was the greatest dog there every was. He had his ups and downs in life. He had his third eyelid flip, he had the worst breath known to man, he snored rather loudly, he had the most horrible gas, he lost all but four teeth, he was a chub, and he had horrible hips and kneecaps. But there has never been a kinder, more loving dog. Not only that, but he was smart. He never had accidents, he never ran away and whenever my feet were cold, he would lay on them to warm them up. He never snapped at a child and he was extremely protective of Audrey when she was born a little early. He slept by her bassinet on most days until she became strong. When we got Shi Shi, our second dog, although she annoyed him to death, he trained her. She insisted on sleeping with him even though he would have a low insidious growl going for the entire time she dug, turned, and worked herself into the best possible position. She is now a fantastic calm dog at two years old. When Choochy died, I can honestly say that she remained in depression for at least four months. She is finally getting back to her old self.

When Choochy died I wanted another baby puppy to love and take care of. Shi Shi is wonderful, but it became clear early on that she was Sean’s (my husband’s) dog. She followed him everywhere and still cries for a ridiculous amount of time when he leaves the house. So Shi Shi didn’t fit the bill for me. I needed a dog that loved me above all. I’ve got her. Her name is Tinkerbell, but we call her Tink.

Tink is a little different than my other two dogs. She is adorable and soft, and cute, and cuddly. She loves to kiss you and she will take a walk any time of the day or night. But she is not quite the same as Shi or Chooch. I have used all of the same training techniques on Tink that I’ve used on my other dogs. I’ve read the manuals, watched the videos, praised, gave treats time and time again. I have tried to reason with her about the proper times to relieve herself. I take her out constantly in all kinds of weather. I yell for my family to pitch in and Tink probably goes on 12 walks a day. Tinkerbell will not learn. I hear my husband say, “Thank you for the kisses….no, no, no, no bite.” I can hear swear words mumbled as I hear, “No peeing in the house!” And this is usually growled out just after I brought her in from one of her many walks. She steals any clothes off the floor, her most favorite being underwear. Tink has chewed through four retractable leashes and now she has a indestructible five foot leash. She pounces at Shi Shi, usually as Shi is in the middle of a sound sleep, and she is the only dog, child, anything that Sean and I have allowed to sleep in our bed. Why, you ask? Because she would wake us up every hour, on the hour during the night if she was in the cage. Now she wakes me up every single morning around 5:00a.m. by climbing onto my chest and kissing me nonstop. You see, she want to go on a walk. When we walk around the block other dogs glance our way and keep going. Not Tink, she starts barking and wakes up the entire neighborhood. Tink is eight pounds.

I have a proven process to train dogs. I have used it on both of my other dogs and my training techniques worked perfectly. I used research to make sure my plans were backed by experts and I included praise. But with Tink, nothing has worked. I have had to rethink my training strategies over and over again. I have to be completely consistent, and I have to make the time for her training even when I’m exhausted. Yes, I could get rid of her, but I love her. She is now my baby. I am responsible for her and I take that responsibility very seriously.

Tink reminds me of those students who don’t fit the mold. They should thrive under my teaching skills, I mean they have worked for years on other students, but for some reason these students are a bit different. These types of students are still my responsibility. It is still my goal to make them learn and thrive under my care. I have to show them how to succeed and teach them the tools for success. I just have to do it differently.

All students are different. Some may be grouped together and thrive under a prescribed lesson, but this is not good enough. It is an educator’s responsibility to ensure the success of every single student sitting in the room. This takes time, effort, care, and skill. A great teacher realizes this and makes it his priority to change, adapt, and to become a better equipped teacher. This teacher doesn’t look for excuses, blames the student, or even tries to get rid of the student. She embraces the challenge and does everything in her power to give this stdent what he needs. That’s what a great teacher does.


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