Kindergarten teacher, Christy, shares what it’s like to sit in the teacher’s chair at parent/teacher interview time…
The past week of school for me has 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 until now they’ve been sure was a rocket scientist in the making, has spent most of the year thus far 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 result of the bad influence or bad choices of another child, but in fact, a result of the child themselves.
Your child – the truth vs the fantasy
This year however, I thoroughly enjoyed my interview, and here’s why.
Often in kindergarten, the very first interview between parent and teacher 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 who 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 because Mum is not here to go and buy you another pink one the minute you demand it and the teacher has 23 other children who also are trying to pick a colour.)
Part of being a teacher is having those difficult conversations with parents – and they often happen as the result of a story told when the child goes home at the end of the day, or when I have to ring a parent to discuss an issue. We’re are often greeted by resistant parents who insist that it’s another child’s fault or how the story that their child is telling them is so different from what they are hearing from us – the implication here is that I am lying and their 5-year-old is telling the truth – or, and this is always my favourite, their child’s behaviour is actually my fault because I just don’t understand them.
Hurrah for parents who have their listening ears on
But this year seems to be the return of the practical parent!
My interviews were filled with awesome discussions about their child, their behaviour, their learning and how to take a practical approach to their child’s progress. As their teacher, I am, believe it or not, as passionate about their child’s academic and emotional development, as their parents, so this discussion is a lovely breath of fresh air.
As a society, perhaps we are becoming more aware of the problems attached to the ‘cotton wool’ generation and genuinely want our kids to grow up to be resilient, problem-solving and confident human beings. And last week I saw evidence of this. 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 is so much more than teaching the curriculum
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 requires a joint commitment from parent and teacher. You are 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 can see the whole picture. That, academically, socially and emotionally, I know what the end goal is.
I am a teacher but I am also a parent. And I want both my own children, as well as those who 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, parent and teacher, and the last week has me thinking that maybe, just maybe, we are all finally going in the same direction.