Being a Teacher Parent and what it has taught me

I just finished reading Aviva Dunsiger’s Post on Do Parents know what is happening in the classroom and of course I love what she has to say. So much so that I thought writing a post in response would be the better option. In fact, I have been meaning to write about this for a while just have to find the time.

I want to start off with being a Parent is one of the hardest things that I have ever done (I sense and hear the smirks from all the parents reading this as I know you know what I mean). And to be honest I knew that before being a parent but I didn’t really know that if you know what I mean.

To be honest I don’t think that I really have thought about my connection to parents before until I was a parent with a child in school. Sure I knew that it was important. I knew that we were a partnership. I knew that we needed regular communication. Before having Izzy go to school I would have regular communications, I would write newsletters and then blogs and thought that I was doing a great job of telling them what I was doing in the classroom.

Then my daughter went to Kindergarten for the very first time and everything changed. For the first time, I understood why my student’s parents said, “How is my kid doing?” I wanted to know what she was doing and how she was behaving.

Because of this I have learned many things:

1) Plenty of communication:

Though I thought I was doing this before I realized that I wasn’t. If I still had parents asking me how is my child doing then I wasn’t doing a good enough job. If I as a parent wanted to know what was happening then I was sure my parents were too. So know I do more tweets of the day. I collect those tweets in small weekly blog posts of what we did (Aviva does a much better job of this) with questions that we have been exploring and how parents can extend the conversation at home. Being in an older grade I have my students write monthly report card to their parents (when I taught 2 I did these) outlining what they are doing well, what they’re struggling in, what their goals are and what they can do at home to help. This doesn’t have to be long but I find that if parents know what is happening; 1) they are a lot happier and 2) they don’t ask a lot of questions. I also invite my parents in whenever they can but we also try to do 3 sharing summits of their students work. These are during the day but we invite parents to come in and have their kids show them what they have been working on and how they have been progressing.

As a parent being able to ask my daughter, when you did ______ activity did you learn about _____? instead of what did you do today? has been the best gift ever. We talk about her learning, instead of me getting “fine.” At the same time, if she is already at 6 telling me fine what will that look like as she gets older?

Now that I am a parent I think the more communication I do the better. I shouldn’t wonder or even have to ask my kids what they did at school because I already know or have places to check and see what they did. I know this means a lot more work but the connections that you can make and the partnerships that you can develop is really amazing.

2) Kids want to feel connected to you as a Teacher:

Again, this is not something profound but I don’t think that this really sunk home until Izzy was in school. I also don’t think this is an area of strength for me. I mean I always tried to connect with the kids on their level, played sports with them, joked and had fun but was I really building a relationship. If they had a concern did I listen to them and tried to sympathize. My daughter has a lot of issues with self-regulation, I know she is only 6 but this is a big area of need for her. However, a lot of the problems in school surround her feeling lonely and not listened too. We cannot entertain all of the ideas that kids have but I think a lot of our so-called “behaviours” can be calmed and worked through with listening and making students feelings valid. Once they feel like you care, a lot more rationalizing and teaching can happen.

3) Life is extremely Chaotic at home:

This is something that I have been struggling with a lot as a teacher. I know what my house is like with two kids (soon to be three), what is home like for my students? When I assign a piece of homework, what is that doing to the dynamics? The stress? Is it meaningful? I have been very lucky that Izzy hasn’t gotten a lot if any homework but I know it will come. What will that do to her anxiety, stress our home dynamics? I am still debating this but something to contemplate why and what we do after school. Is this something that we have a right to do? Is it something that we should/ need to do?

As I said before being a parent is one of the hardest things if not the hardest thing anyone can do. Our parents send the best thing that they have and they do the best job that they can possibly do with the tools they have. What do we do to help them? What do we to help with that stress?

Love to hear your thoughts

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Author: MrSoClassroom

I am a grade school Teacher, promoting creativity and exploration in all of my students. My classroom is always in a state of Inquiry.

5 thoughts on “Being a Teacher Parent and what it has taught me”

  1. Hey Jonathan! Nice, reflective blog piece! So, you know I’m a parent of 7, grandparent of 4. Teacher of gazillions! Here’s my take…
    1) Although I know great teachers who are not parents themselves, there’s a distinct empathy that evolves when one is a teacher/parent. The frustrated comments are reduced and tinged with ‘but maybe …’ this is truly beneficial for the student. Also, as a resource teacher I am constantly in meetings with parents of students who are struggling for any number of reasons, and it goes a long way in our communication when I can say “Oh I felt that way too!!” It is truly, all about the relationships, isn’t it?

    2) HOMEWORK …oh my goodness!! I remember one situation when my 4th was in grade 6. The teacher (no kids – not even a husband kid!) had sent home some project in history, to do over the March Break. She sent it home on the Thursday, to be submitted on the Monday after we got back. That year, we had hockey tournaments and a couple of day trips planned – family time that during the school year, we hardly ever got. So, I wrote in the agenda: “Sounds like a great project! And, during this week of March BREAK, we are doing just that …taking a break. So, James will submit his project on the Thursday after we get back. ” Sounds cheeky? But it would have been such a stressor for all of us. The teacher responded with a note saying that she was so sorry – she hadn’t even thought of it that way and had extended the project deadline to later in the week after. She left it optional, in case parents/kids were bored and wanted something to do. I’d say this is a real example of COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATION ..of which you speak!

    3) Parenting is so tough. I see my kids as parents and how they second guess themselves all the time. I wish I could tell them…relax …enjoy … they turn out good/bad despite and in spite of us! But perhaps it’s that diligence as a parent that sets the course ….and paves the way for being able to soak up grandparenthood with joy!

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!
    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet,

      Thank you for your response. I too see amazing teachers who are not parents but your right there is this connection when you have your own kids school. You can empathize and really see the other side. Before izzy I could understand but not really grasp it. Now I feel more in tune.

      Love that you see your own kids and want to say relax. It so hard as you know. You just want whats best for them. Thanks again for the comments

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  2. Jonathan, I really enjoyed this post of yours. As someone that’s not a parent, it’s great to hear this parent perspective as well as the combined parent/teacher perspective. The homework part really got me thinking. When I taught Grades 5 and 6, I used to assign homework, and then I began to question, “why.” Many students had other after-school commitments, and while some students and parents loved homework, it caused stress for others. Plus, how could I differentiate it the most? I then remembered a discussion that I had at my last school with my principal. He spoke about the fact that some parents like homework because it tells them what their children are learning in school. What they really want is to be well-informed and have options for extending this learning at home. This is when I started to include home extensions on the bottom of my daily blog post. This wasn’t required homework, but just some options for home exploration (and a chance for parents and students to connect). I got a lot of positive feedback about these extensions from parents of students in different grades, so I’ve continued doing this. I have to thank Aaron Puley (@bloggucation), from our Board, for the idea. Maybe this could become a homework middle ground. I’d be curious to know what others do and what they think.

    Aviva

    P.S. Congratulations on your soon-to-be third child! How did I miss this news?! 🙂

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    1. Aviva thank you for replying again. I didn’t want to miss your comments. Still have no clue why blogger did this but I think wordpress should be a lot better.

      I know that there are many amazing teachers out there who are not parents but for me it has been such an eye opener. I can really sympathize with them.

      I think ultimately parents just want to know how to help or see what there kids are doing. Homework is what we are use to, same with grades but I think it masks what we really want as parents.

      I love your followup activities and your the reason why I do them and my weekly updates. I think this really should be the middle ground.

      It allows the options of do it or not. Kids have so much going on do they really need the hour practising worksheets? Now that being said I think there are this they should always be doing. 1)reading and 2) math games. I don’t see this as homework. However it doesn’t need to be everyday but more oF a time for the week.

      Thanks for your reply

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  3. Aviva and Jonathan: I love your ideas of communicating the ‘whats’ with parents. And Jonathan, you gave a great example of how you speak to Issy … When you did ….. did you learn ……? Nice and open-ended and doesn’t allow for yes, no , fine, or nothing. Would either of you consider, or have you, given this example as a conversation starter for parents? I think some could really benefit from it because they might not know anything different than: “What did you do today?” It’s easy modelling!

    janet

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