Both Sides of the Desk
September sees many parents spending an evening in small chairs in classrooms across the country. I get to see both perspectives.
Back to School Night. I'm sure these four words appear on digital and print calendars for many area parents. My husband and I have already had our turn listening to our oldest child's teachers talk about the school year and their expectations.
This week, I get to switch from the audience to the main stage, as I stand before my preschool students' parents as the teacher on BTS night, and I'm happy to have both experiences. As is the case for many aspects of my "dual life," each perspective informs the other, hopefully bringing about a greater understanding of both my children's teachers and the parents of my own students.
As a teacher, I hope that parents come to this annual event ready to learn more about how their children spend each day in my classroom, as well as to perhaps get a better understanding of my educational approach and personality. Because, really, in my opinion, one of the greatest factors impacting children's experiences in school is the teacher who stands before them each day.
Our oldest son is finishing his elementary school career this year. As he's been in school since he was three years old, the list of teachers who have been in his life is a long one. Some hold dear places in my heart, especially his preschool teachers who worked so closely with him on self-control development. Their patience with him could be called saint-like, and I remember thanking them on a daily basis for all their efforts.
I can close my eyes and picture the smiling faces of teachers who have seemed to truly understand our son on a personal level. The teachers who have shown him respect, encouraged him, and given him the support to grow and learn will remain in my memory for a long time.
I try not to dwell on the teachers who may been less than effective at reaching our son or on the tiny percentage who were just plain awful. In an ideal world, those teachers wouldn't be behind the desk in the first place, but in the real world, it's always a possibility.
The National PTA designates a National Teacher Appreciation Week every year during the first full week of May. It's a wonderful reminder to show some love to the teachers in your children's lives before the school year closes.
But perhaps we need to make sure the appreciation goes both ways. What better time of year to do so than during this "Back to School" season when parents and teachers are working to start the school year off on the right foot?
Why not take a moment, both teachers and parents, to think about the others' role in regards to your children. Every educational organization there is encourages parental involvement in schools, with the word partnership often thrown about. For there to be a true partnership, I believe we each need to try to see the others' perspective. Try imagining what it feels like the on the other side of the desk.
Dawn may reside in Greenbelt in real life, but online she lives at her blog, my thoughts exactly, where she chatters on about her funny kids, her NPR obsession and plenty of other randomness. She can also be found at 5 Minutes for Books, reviewing everything from contemporary fiction to children's literature, and at The DC Moms, surrounded by incredibly talented local writers.