School will be starting for my children this week, and for many children this new routine and the new teachers can lead to much anxiety. Not only are the children feeling some of this anxiety but many parents are as well.
This past week, the teachers for my son and daughter called over the phone to introduce themselves before “meet the teacher” night. That same afternoon, a neighbor of mine called me to ask if I had received a phone call from my daughter’s teacher yet. I hadn’t at that time, and I could tell there was panic in my neighbor’s voice. She told me that she was very worried and upset that her son’s teacher this year was a “first year” teacher. She had been a teacher (and so had I), and we both know that the first year teachers do struggle a bit. But, in my opinion, the first year teachers bring with them the fresh ideas and new approaches to the classroom. I do understand her concern and could totally relate to her anxiety.
Since I was a teacher before I stayed home with my children, I now have the unique perspective of seeing the classroom from both sides: the teacher and the parent.
As a teacher, I viewed all the children in my classroom as precious and wanted to teach them all everything I could to make them the most successful kindergartners they could be. As a parent, I worry about what they will learn about in the classroom, but I also worry about if they will eat all of their lunch, and if they turned in a paper to the teacher which needed to be given back. I worry if the teacher really cares about my child and will do his/her best to help make my child successful.
Up until last year, I “unofficially” requested my son’s teachers for preschool and Kindergarten. When I was teaching, I had always told myself that I would understand what teachers are going through and not judge teachers quickly without really knowing them. There are so many things happening in the classroom at any given time, and to try to take a snapshot of one instance and deem someone a “good” or “bad” teacher was not fair.
I felt that way until my own children started going to school.
Something inside me changed and I started to pay attention to what other parents had said about a certain teacher (without ever really knowing the teacher at all). I was fearful about letting my son get “the luck of the draw” so I would kindly request teachers for him. Some may say that I was interfering too much or that I should have just let fate take its course, but I felt so strongly that only I knew who would be the best teacher for my child.
When we moved back to the U.S. last year, I knew no one in our neighborhood let alone the school. I registered my son and received a phone call from his first grade teacher who introduced herself over the phone. I met her at “meet the teacher” night and she seemed very nice and friendly. Other than that meeting, I knew absolutely nothing about her. I didn’t even have anyone else to ask if she was a good teacher or not because I hadn’t met anyone. It turns out my son had a wonderful first grade year and she was an awesome teacher. I realized this past summer that last year was the first year I had not requested a teacher for my son, and things turned out okay. I started to think about how I had requested his teachers in previous years thinking I was doing what was best for him, but maybe any of the other teachers would have been great as well.
I started hearing rumors this year from a few parents saying that my son’s first grade teacher is very disorganized and some parents have complained. I am so glad I didn’t hear anything like that last year or else I may have panicked. It is so interesting how one thing another parent says can send someone into a tailspin and doubt what may be good for their own child.
This year, I don’t know anything about either one of my children’s teachers, and I am going to keep it that way as long as I can. I have realized that I can be there and guide my children but I cannot always control who is around them.
Both of my children will have to learn to deal with all different kinds of people. I cannot hand pick teachers for the rest of their lives. Maybe they will have some “bad” teachers here and there. I am sure we have all had some of those, but I will say I definitely had more good than bad. I need to look less at the “parent side”, and not to listen to other parents and their opinions. I need to look at the classroom more from the “teacher’s side” of just wanting to teach the students in their classroom. After all, the teacher is a parent’s partner in a child’s education.
Have you or do you request teachers for your children? What are your thoughts?
This is an original post by Meredith. You can read about her adventures as an expat in Nigeria and her transition back to the U.S. on her blog www.wefoundhappiness.blogspot.com/
Photo credit to the author.