Thursday, February 12, 2015


I am an educator with diabetes. As such, I also fill the role of diabetes educator in my day to day interactions. It's strange to feel that I'm regarded as an expert in something that still feels so strange and unknowable to me, but my students ask me questions about diabetes as wholeheartedly as they ask me about long division. As hard as we work to cultivate the attitude that we are all working together in the classroom, that the teacher is not in charge of learning, there are certain realities to the situation. They are so young that I am still their mystic, their guide through the murky waters of all matters first grade and beyond. And diabetes is part of that beyond. So we have discussions about when and if it's okay to touch my Omnipod, especially when it's tantalizingly placed on my upper arm. We talk about sugar as medicine, about the idea of a disease lasting forever. We talk about who can get diabetes, how you know if someone has it. We go through metaphor after metaphor, discuss drug trials and Google images of beta cells.

We also, more key I think, discuss how to talk about these things. It's here that I struggle the most, because I am still grappling in my life about what makes me feel good and bad in relation to diabetes. We don't say sugar (or anything) is bad for YOU in our class anymore. We have substituted sayings like, it's not healthy for ME to have too much sugar because telling others about themselves feels bad at any age. We talk about the phrase "you don't look sick" makes people feel. How growing hysterical over other people's news takes the focus away from them and doesn't help. And so much more. Constantly. It's exhausting, and I often feel like I've flubbed, or gotten cut off, but that's life in the classroom. So after every discussion I try to make a mental note and, like any part of my curriculum, I know that I'll improve it next time.  

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