Some facets of being a teacher
The other day, talking to teachers I work with, I stated a few lessons I learned concerning parent-teacher relationships. One of the key enlightenments I had, in my opinion, was to realize that parents are supposed to advocate for their child, and the teacher’s job is to take their experience in and respond with understanding and with actions as much as possible. I still get annoyed by some situations when I am overloaded with work and a parent brings up something like a toy that has been lost – when the school policy is to keep toys at home to begin with. In moments like this I need to remind myself that teaching is not really about the subject, but about the learning that happens when dealing with the subject. Having that idea permeating my philosophy and my actions as a teacher turns the toy situation into a teaching moment when rules, responsibility, and search strategies can be discussed and exercised. Furthermore, the importance of the lost object for the child does not change just because the school wants the object to stay out of its grounds, so there is suffering that needs to be understood rather than yelled upon.
The down side of this whole ideal is that I find myself juggling priorities: the child who has no autonomy to change clothes when wet, the child who does not join the group, the child who speaks too softly, the child whose parents are divorcing, the child who is regressing because of a younger sibling… That, as well, is part of being a teacher: to teach the whole child, conflicts and all.