When I enter the schools of other teachers wearing my hat of “YA author” to do student assemblies, I am treated to a rare vantage point. Fact is, before these assemblies even began, I am sometimes treated to a few of those real “show-stopping moments.” For example…
While waiting in the front office of a school for the vice principal to greet me and walk me over to the auditorium where I’d be speaking last week, a girl – she could not have been more than 14 years old – signed in with the front secretary.
She was about 20 minutes late for school. And she was asked, upon signing in, “And where were you yesterday?”
Her reply: “My baby was sick.”
Now I have been in education a fairly long time and I have seen – and taught – bunches of pregnant teens before. But a girl this young who had already given birth long enough ago to be back at school? That one threw me for a loop.
Then I heard about how one school had converted an old office to a breast feeding area. Apparently grandmas show up to school with babies, kids are called out of class, and the baby is handed over to mama for a little snacky-poo.
After a deep drink from mama’s academic bosom, someone wipes the kid’s chin, grandma takes the baby home and the student goes back to class.
Now, I’m biologically underequipped to place my nipple in a youngun’s mouth and provide anything that resembles sustenance so I am taking a leap here but from what I’ve gathered about this uniquely female phenomenon, isn’t breastfeeding kinda physically draining for mama? Like, does providing milk for a hungry mouth affect one’s ability to solve for X in an exercise on isosceles triangles?
And if a kid leaves class to do a 25 minute feed, does that count as an excused absence? Like, does the law require teachers to make accommodations of this sort for teen moms in an effort to keep them in school or is a teacher supposed to doink them for missing 40% of class that day? (And what kind of professional conundrum is it to be asked to deduct points from a student’s performance because they had to feed a hungry baby?)
All this got me wondering if a student who is on breast-feeding intermission from her third period class is less responsible for her classroom assignments and deadlines than a non-breastfeeding student in the same such class?
Of course, then I wonder, if you spill breast milk on a bubble test, will that affect its ability to be scanned by Pearson?
Are there policies on this? I tell you this, doing student assemblies for 700 are challenging enough without having my mind bent by questions like this before I take the stage.