Once in a while, I see a cartoon that really strikes a cord with me. Something in me rises up and shouts "Yes!' and I am convinced and convicted all at once.
If you are a parent of a child between the ages of 0 - 18 (or ever plan to be a parent), then please read this. It is the heartfelt plea of one parent to another:
This cartoon was the stimulus that provoked the aforementioned reaction in me a couple of weeks ago...
I KNOW that as a parent, we have the very best intentions for our children. I know that, mostly because I am a parent. I know I want what's best for my girls - I want them to be happy and healthy, I want them to learn and thrive, to be encouraged and invested in and cherished and stretched. Of course I want that... it comes with the territory of being a parent.
When our children enter school, at the mere age of four, they look so tiny wandering through that big door. I have yet to do it with my own girls, but I've seen it countless times. And I can imagine that as Ava walks through those doors for the first time this September, part of my heart will go with her... Will they care for her like I do? Will they understand her? Will she be cherished and loved? Will she make friends? Will she feel secure? Will they meet her needs?
I dread the day.
I know what it is to be a parent.
But I have a problem.
You see, I also know what it is to be a teacher...
And so I play the position, somehow, of two characters in those cartoons above... And I know that every single one of my heart strings will go to cartoon number two... But I also know that actually the best thing for my girls will be that picture from 1969...
Here's some things I've learnt....
That teacher, you know, the one who your child dislikes; that teacher who is "too strict" or "not strict enough", the teacher who "doesn't explain things" or "spends ages explaining the obvious", the teacher who "has lessons in which there isn't enough control" or "gives detentions for nothing"...
That teacher? That teacher spends hours pouring over books pulling out the positives and trying to give achievable feedback; that teacher makes countless phone calls to parents every night to try and deal with questions, queries and challenges; that teacher wants nothing more than the very best for the pupils they are teaching; that teacher wants nothing more than to be able to TEACH rather than just control a rabble of kids, some of whom struggle (that's putting it mildly) to show respect. That teacher dreams dreams of being an inspirational teacher, but is all too often bogged down in admin, emails and paperwork.
That teacher needs our support.
If we are going to raise children who are able to one day hold down a job, respect their elders - yes, simply because they are their elders - show courtesy and consideration, realise that being part of this world is about being part of a team, rather that having your own way all the time... if we want to raise children like this (and I so hope we do) then we need to get behind these teachers.
Not fight them.
I am a teacher. I know the School system. I know children. I know I could be a child's best friend one minute, and worst enemy the next. Just like I can be my own children's best friend one minute and worst enemy the next. Because children are real - they react to their emotions - they display raw responses to feelings of embarrassment, frustration and guilt...
So perhaps its sometimes worth considering that the feedback on the teacher you are receiving from little Johnny isn't always 100% accurate... or 100% neutral...
And let me assure you, if the teacher in question is genuinely having problems controlling the class, then the School will be on it. They will be being closely monitored, their classes will be regularly checked up on and that teacher will probably be feeling pretty rubbish about themselves right now. And if the teacher in question is genuinely not teaching anything, then the School will be on it, because regular assessment is a national requirement and poor results have to be answered for.
So when your kid is bad-mouthing their teacher, please don't jump on the band wagon. And if you agree with them, please don't let them know it... It will just peel away that last slither of respect your child might still have had for them. Please. Teach your child grace... explain that sometimes we don't see the big picture, explain that sometimes we have to respect people in authority over us because they are in authority over us. Showing respect to your teachers is a non-negotiable, just like showing respect to your boss is a non-negotiable. And even if you don't feel it, you still show it...
And when your child has had a shocker of a day - has felt humiliated in front of the class, has been given a detention for something they thought was insignificant, or when the class has been held back for an individual's discrepancy, please pause. Pause before you sent that email, write that letter, make that phone call... and remember that teacher is a person... a person who makes mistakes... a person who spends their time trying to do what is best for not just your child, but 30 of them (if in primary), or perhaps hundreds of them (if in Secondary)...
So please, lets help our children to see that their learning is a team-effort: the teacher, them...
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