Friday, September 16, 2011

Year 2: Week 2 - "Dealing" With Parents

When I mention to people that I’m a teacher, people often assume that one of the difficult parts of the job is “dealing” with parents.

When you think about parental interaction with teachers two extreme stereotypes seem to materialize. There’s the “crazy parent who is asking for unreasonable things for their students and is irrationally angry at the teacher” and the “insane, under-qualified teacher who is not doing the best thing for the students and ignoring the reasonable request of the parent.”

What is this parent-teacher relationship about and why does it seem to carry this negativity in our minds?

In my six years of teaching I have had some rough conversations with parents. However I’ve also had some delightful interactions with parents that have motivated and inspired me to continue to be a teacher. When I think back at being screamed at by a parent over the phone at my first job for half an hour, I don’t really wish that on anyone. It was REALLY hard to take, but it’s part of thegig that happens sometimes and parents, sometimes you run into teachers who are not doing what’s best for your child and that’s really difficult. No one deserves to feel that way about his or her child’s education.

I feel like I spent most of my prep time this week on the phone with parents and initially when I wrote down the list of parents I had to call I was terrified. I don’t know why, I just felt that they could go bad and I wanted to prepare myself for the worst.

What I found out was that I was being completely irrational.

As a teacher you can never forget that parents are your partners. They are the greatest supporter of the students that you dedicate your life too. Almost all of time their frustrations demands and concerns come from wanting to do what is best for their child. That can come out in ways that are hard to receive, but one of things I forgot this week that I was taught is that you should never questions someone’s motivation.

If you believe that someone is doing something that you do not like from a good place it helps you share their perspective and work with them. And if that person you think has a great motivation, but doesn’t, then your positive approach to them will be far more constructive and your belief and determination to do what is best will shine through.

I’m not a parent.  I have my puppy, but that’s different. Sometimes I feel unqualified to advise parents about what is best for their child. Don’t get me wrong, in reality, I am quite qualified to do this, but it’s hard at times.

Parents put so much trust in their school and their children’s teachers. I mean, over a hundred families believes that when their child comes to my class I will take care of them and help them develop into a happy and healthy human being. The amount of faith my parents have in me is almost too much for me to comprehend. Whenever I’m feeling the slightest bit unmotivated to do something for a student I just think about their parents and how much that child means to their family and I’m back to work in a second.

I feel indebted to the parents of my students for providing the opportunity for me to do what I love. While there are some tough interactions, mostly they are positive and while nothing makes me happier as a teacher then helping a student learn, getting a hearty handshake and a gesture of gratitude from a parent comes pretty close.

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