So it’s school holidays…..
Yes, I hear the collective sigh of relief from my fellow teachers….(combined with the pouring of a glass or two of your best celebratory vino!)
And Yes, I also hear the collective groan from those parents that have to take the two weeks off work, spend two weeks worth of pay on holiday child care or have to stretch the friendship with grandparents, aunties, uncles or neighbours while they beg them to have the kids for a day here or there….(also coupled with the pouring of your best, or stongest, but most likely not celebratory vino!)
The last week of school for me basically revolved around the bi annual Parent/Teacher Interview. And you know what, although it means a week of staying back at school until well after dark, as well as getting there ridiculously early for those before work parent interviews, I have to say that I really enjoyed this year’s interviews.
It’s always hard….it’s a week of difficult conversations. A week of awkward moments when parents realise that their pride and joy, who up until now (at the age of 5) they were sure was a rocket scientist in the making, has spent most of the year licking the glue sticks and staring off into space. It’s when you have to discuss the behaviour issues that have been occurring daily and often have to strongly convince parents that their child’s behaviour is not the fault, influence or bad choices of another child, but in fact, of the child themselves.
This year however, I thoroughly enjoyed my interviews….and here’s why.
Often in Kindergarten, that first interview can revolve around the topic of resilience. It’s a skill that we hone in on early in Kindergarten, as these gorgeous pre schoolers transition into the school setting and, both the parent and the student, realise that there are a lot of things that this kid can actually do for themselves. And as a single teacher, in a classroom of 5 year olds, doing things for themselves is actually not always a choice, but a necessity. The sheep are quickly sorted from the lambs, as those that can cope with the unexpected and can problem solve are left staring blankly at the child who doesn’t know what to do when they can’t find a pink crayon….(For those non teachers in the room, the solution is to pick another colour…..cause Mum is not here to go and buy you another pink one the minute you demand it and Mrs Not Another Supermum has 23 other children who also are trying to pick a colour.)
As teachers, the topic is often raised about when we were kids…..and when we did something wrong at school our parents would whack us on the backside with the wooden spoon and tell us to behave ourselves….or else! The current reality is, that in many similar situations in 2016, when the child goes home with the story or the teacher rings the parent to discuss an issue, we are often greeted with how it is another child’s fault or how the story that their child is telling them is so different from what they are hearing from us (ie, I am lying and their 5 year old is telling the truth) or, always my favourite, the child’s behaviour is actually my fault because I just don’t understand them.
This year seemed to be the return of the practical parent!
My interviews were filled with awesome discussions about the child, their behaviour, their learning and a practical approach to where to from here. And as their teacher, who believe it or not, is as passionate about your child’s development both academically and emotionally as you are, this is a breath of fresh air.
As a society, perhaps we are becoming more aware of the ‘cotton wool’ generation and genuinely want our kids to grow up to be resilient, problem solving and confident human beings. I was met with parents who, mostly, were completely aware of their child’s strengths and opportunities for growth (note the politically correct teacher talk ). And as teacher, I can tell you that this is hugely refreshing.
I am on your side. We teachers want your child to grow academically, we want your child to be compassionate, caring and aware of others. You and I want the same things and if we are both real about this, then the journey is going to be, not just productive, but exciting!
My job as a teacher, is not just to teach your child the curriculum. My job as a teacher, is to help your child become a better human being. I am hoping that by the end of their 12 months with me (or with all of my amazing colleagues, both past and present), they are a better learner, friend and human being. Part of that journey is a joint commitment from the both of us. You trusting me to, not only teach your child to read and write, but also teach them to negotiate, to walk away, to problem solve and to use their initiative. And I am trusting you to back me. To trust that I have the whole picture. That, academically, socially and emotionally, I know what the end goal is.
In recent years, the ‘cotton wool’ generation has become more and more evident, and it hasn’t just been the teachers of the world that have noticed. I am a parent and I am a teacher. And I want both my own children, as well as those that I teach, to be resilient, to be problem solvers and to be strong, confident and well rounded little humans.
This is a journey that we are walking together, you and I, and the last week has me thinking that maybe, just maybe, we are all on the way back up.