From RGQ, published today. School has started here in South Carolina and the kiddies are all waiting for buses around the neighborhood. Small clumps of children gather together and wait for the big yellow bus to carry them off to a day full of learning.

What teachers looked like back when I was in school, walking uphill both ways, miles and miles because that's what we did.

At least that is the theory.

I come from a family of teachers. My mother was a teacher. My older sister was a teacher of grade school children as well as an administrator in the grade school setting. She also taught adults how to be teachers. My baby sister is still teaching. My niece is still teaching. I taught for three years back in Ohio.

I know that there are some bad teachers. BTW, I was a nurse for over two decades and I also know there are some bad nurses and bad doctors. Saying there are some bad teachers simply means there are lots and lots of teachers and like any group, their abilities would span a Bell Curve. Most teachers are average, some are sorta bad and some are horrible while some are good and some are great. Most, however, are average.

We send our children off to school for just a few hours a day and expect miracles. We expect in those few hours per day they will learn to read and write, do math, understand geography and history, and turn into little scientists or chemists. We expect all this along with hoping the school will build character and inspire greatness while generating higher self esteem. All this is to be done in a classroom setting with anywhere from 18 to 30+ students from a variety of background and with a variety of mental abilities not to mention special needs.

And yet, when the kids come home, where they spend the majority of their time, parents will sometimes bemoan the concept of homework and how they are supposed to be involved in it. They are also sure that if something goes wrong at school, it is entirely the school’s fault and they should have been able to prevent it and one’s own child is never a precipitating factor let alone at fault in any way.

I would like to speak to parents for a moment. Teachers are far too busy to make up stories about your child. They care about your child and if they say your child is causing a disturbance on the playground, your child is causing a disturbance on the playground. If a teacher tells you your child is participating in some behavior that is not acceptable, the teacher isn’t just trying to make more work for her- or himself. They care about your kids. Believe them, work with them. They are trying to help your child.

Teachers have a difficult job and it becomes far more difficult when the parents opt to just abdicate all responsibility or when the parents decide the teacher is the enemy. Both of these scenarios are deleterious to the student as it takes teamwork to get the child from age 5 to age 18. This is not the sole job of a set of teachers. Parents must remain involved, but not overbearing. Parents must work with rather than against the teacher as well as the teacher working with rather than against the parent. This is a team effort.

One of the things I realized this morning is the opportunity for schools to teach group dynamics. I’m not sure how this is done for people who home school. As I walked this morning, a small child was dawdling on her way to the bus stop. All her life, her parents waited for her to dawdle because it is actually illegal to leave them behind when they won’t hurry up. But the school bus was not going to wait. You are either there on time or you are left behind. What a great lesson. And schools are filled with these types of lessons. You become part of a group and while there can be disadvantages to “group think” there are also some great bonuses. It might teach you to stop picking your nose in public, for instance.

School is a tough place. It is full of strangers who expect you to work in a larger setting than just your family. It’s rather like getting a job and having to fit in to the established corporate culture. We accommodate to the system while maintaining our individuality. It is great to get experience with this at an early age.

There are so many stories we could tell about our own school years and our children’s school years. The perspectives change, but the stories remain part of our lives.

Good luck to all students this year. Spend time with your student asking about what they learned today. Enrich your child’s school experience by providing your own teaching moments. Read with your child as often as you can. Encourage your child to tell stories verbally or with writing or drawing. Make math part of your day by asking your child number questions. Involve yourself in your child’s education because in reality, no matter how great or awful a teacher your kid has, you are the most important teacher in your child’s life.

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