If you know me, you know why this is funny. I love what I do. I am passionate about it. I work very hard to make sure that I at least give the illusion that I am good at it.
So, it makes me angry, teary eyed, frustrated, sad, and down right ready to throw down when newbies (I promise I am using that term lovingly) tell me they know “exactly what they are doing now after doing it for a year.” Uh…I have been at this for a while now and I have to wing it more often that I care to admit.
As a new teacher and hell as a veteran teacher, you NEVER know “exactly” what you are doing. Mostly, because you never know how any kiddo in your room is going to act that day, or how they are going to come to school, or if they are going to understand it in the way you are presenting it.
Let’s think about it for a few minutes shall we? I know that learning never really stops. I certainly never want to stop learning. Maybe that is why I am a teacher. Or that is why I am a great teacher (depends on who you ask). Once you decide you have stopped learning and know everything you have quit.
For a teacher to say this to parents is cause for serious pause and serious concern. What is more concerning to me as a teacher and a parent is some of the other things that get said…here is where I am going to strap on my floaties. I have already climbed the damn high dive.
Kids are super impressionable. They want to love or at least like their teacher. As a parent (I just happen to be a teacher) I want to be on the teachers side. Now, if I can’t do that we have a problem. I can’t be on a teachers side (pretty sure it is going to be hard for most people to be) when my 8 year olds come home telling me that they were told by their teacher all about how girls are better at math than boys, false facts about how long you can live without food and water, about zombies, El Chappo, and other super things.
The one that gets me the most is the stereotype one. Which is super ironic that it was said today, since I did a whole thing today on stereotypes and diversity in one of my classes. Gender stereotypes were a big one for us. This is my thought and I sincerely hope I am not alone. As teachers, we cannot perpetuate any sort of stereotype. We can’t buy into that. Once we do that our students lose. We lose and society loses.
What is great about our classrooms is that all of our kiddos are different. Yes, it makes me nuttier than a snickers somedays. However, it is also what makes each one of my classes my favorite. Each of them brings something new and challenging to the table. As teachers we can be the best thing in a kids day depending on what they have going on at home or we can be the worst part of their day. What we say and how we interact with them is super important.
Now I am going to go ahead and jump. Not only is it important for us as teachers to interact well with our kiddos, we have to interact well with their parents as well. Even the ones we want to run from. Maybe it is more important that we do well with those ones. Why? Am I nuts? Well, yes…but again I have a point. Last week, I had to have an meeting for one of my own apes. As I was explaining some of the things that that they were going to see and the things that I knew worked for them. I got a look from the teacher that said, “you are just ‘that mom.'” Now, I may be. However, I am also “that teacher.” This is when interacting well with parents serves you well. It was in that moment that I lost massive amounts of respect for someone that should be on the same team. As a teacher, when a parent comes to talk to you about one of the students in your class with legit concerns, you better listen. Yes, there are helicopter parents, I get that. More than we would like, but most of the time their concerns are valid. Kids shouldn’t suffer because a teacher “knows exactly what they are doing.”
So, now that I have flung myself, floaties and all of the high dive…I leave all of us with this thought…we never know “exactly” what we are doing. What we are doing is making a difference. What we are doing matters. What we are doing is teaching the whole kid. What we are doing is making sure they have ALL the tools they have to be successful, no matter who they are. What we are doing is loving them…no matter what. What we are doing is building relationships.