By– Dr ANJALI SANGWAN
We have recently moved into a new city. New way of life. New school. New Teachers. New friends. That’s the Army way of life.
H ( 8 years old), L (7 years old) and I are missing the old terribly. We look for beauty in the new. But the old tugs at the heartstrings. Especially the Teachers.
Every now and then, H and L mimic their favourite Teachers. Pantomime their expressions. Perform theatricals to relieve a class mischief. Draw Teacher-like stars and smiley faces in notebooks. Or fondly recollect how honoured they felt when a Teacher asked for assistance, in any small way.
“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”–Carl Jung
As Parents we would all take notice if our children missed their Teachers. I am grateful to the Teachers who took H and L under their wing for 3 academic years.
This is not about becoming a Teacher ‘s pet. This is about showing appreciation for that special someone who is responsible for more than academic enrichment of our children.
But how do you create a working relationship with someone juggling test papers, lesson planning, craft, extra-curricular activities and managing sometimes more than 100 students a session?
Consider these pointers for improving connections with this valuable someone. Some of these suggestions may seem very basic to Parents already promoting Parental involvement, but unfortunately, many of us do not proactively communicate with Teachers.
- Respect the relationship :
“Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living.” —Aristotle
Like any other important relationship in your life, treat the Parent-Teacher one as a problem-solving partnership. Especially when the child is having a hard time. Brainstorm and collaborate with the Teacher, instead of confronting her with what’s wrong.
Outside the family unit, your child’s singlemost important collaboration with an adult is with the Teacher. It can be quite powerful and wonderful, with your involvement.
Astonishingly, many children spend more of their waking hours with Teachers each weekday than they do with their Parents. By the time Parents return from work and children finish afterschool activities, there are only a few hours left for dinner and bedtime. Yes, Parents can get the quality time during these few hours. But it makes sense to build a good rapport with the other adult making a difference in our children’s lives.
- Introduce yourself early:
Don’t wait for a problem before making a cordial connection. A good time to meet the child’s Teacher is within the first week of a new academic year. This gives you an opportunity to meet each other when neither has any complaints.
Try not to brag how brilliant the child is. The Teacher will discover.
- Assume goodwill on the Teacher ‘s part:
“The women I know with strong personalities, the ones who might have become generals or the heads of companies if they were men, become teachers. Teaching is a calling, too. And I’ve always thought that teachers in their way are holy–angels leading their flocks out of the darkness.”–Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses
If your child carries a tale of the Teacher ‘s meanness or unfairness, maintain a neutral stance till you have the correct information. Don’t talk negatively about the Teacher in front of your child. Clarify the matter with the Teacher first.
When you remember that both you and the Teacher are on the same team, problems can usually be worked out.
Don’t go by the opinion of anyone else, including your child ‘s, especially if it is negative. Different people react to each other differently. A positive interaction may turn things around.
Also, do remember the Teacher is human and it may have been a particularly rough day for her. If the Teacher snapped at your child or seems unreasonable, start by asking if every thing is okay.
- Strengthen communication:
Teachers also strive to establish partnerships with Parents. A strong communication is fundamental to this partnership and to building a sense of community between home and school. Verbalise your expectations to the Teacher clearly, albeit in respectful ways.
Little problems don’t tend to become big ones and big ones can be better managed. Our children can’t play one against the other when they find school work challenging.
- Measure up to expectations:
Teachers expect Parents to support learning that happens in school, at home.
When a child attends school well-groomed and well -rested, with homework completed, a Teacher presumes that the Parent is involved.
Research suggests that Parental engagement may be the single most important aspect of how children succeed in school and life.
- Go prepared for the Parent Teacher Meet:
“Every child deserves a champion–an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they possibly can be.”–Rita F. Pierson
– Dress formally and radiate positivity.
– If you are already involved in your child ‘s academic progress, you would know what issues are the most important to discuss. However, if you have been busy, you must give a little thought before you meet the Teacher. Review the child ‘s recent academic work and previous year’s progress report for reference.
– Ask the child for issues she /he wants to discuss with the Teacher. Then prepare your own list of questions.
– If your child ‘s performance has not been good, refrain from finding a scapegoat in the Teacher, to deflect the blame. Ask for suggestions and follow-up.
– Get the Teacher’s contact information. Make sure you ask her how she would like to be contacted for non-emergency situations.
– Summarise the conference at the end so that both parties have received the same message.
– Thank the Teacher for any special effort on your child’s behalf.
– After the Meet, its a good idea to review the key takeaways. Make a detailed plan, along with your child, to boost performance.
- FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
” The point of being a Teacher is to do more than impart facts, it’s to shape the way students perceive the world, to help a student absorb the rules of a discipline. The Teachers who do that get remembered.”–David Brooks, The Hidden Sources of Love , Character,and Achievement
Teaching is not only difficult but also undergoes fierce scrutiny and criticism. Everything Teachers say and do affects the children. That makes their job one of the most important jobs in the world.
If Teachers are respected and given support by the Parent community, they can weave their magic around our children more efficiently.
Ms Mary Devraj and Mrs Edwina LaPorte (Teachers at Loreto House, Kolkata, India)–two amazingly talented Teachers who did just that for my children.
Their bear hugs, friendly smiles, brief compliments and little conversations kept H and L interested for working harder. They were the sole reason my children went to school every single day. Rain or shine, confrontation with a bully or absence of a fond friend; nothing could stop them from attending their favourite Teacher ‘s class.
I thank both the Teachers from the bottom of my heart ! May they continue to make a difference in the lives of many more fortunate children!
Dear Readers, if you have any other way of strengthening a Parent-Teacher relationship, write to me. I would love to hear from you.
Till then, Happy Parenting !