Thursday, September 3, 2009
My son ran up to one of the teachers in his new school with happiness and anticipation in each leap. He asked if she was his kindergarten teacher. Smiling she said that his teacher was down the hall. Knowing the rules I quickly checked with the office and they told me to have a look down the hallway.
As a teacher I always had eager students walk into my class during the summer months to check out their new classroom and teacher. I didn't mind and thought their excitement was both cute and contagious. However, as I am beginning to learn, things are very different in my parent shoes.
As we checked out the classrooms looking for my son's new teacher we spotted a group of friendly enough looking teachers having a chat. My son asked again if his teacher was around. A young dark haired teacher smiled sympathetically while another more "experienced" teacher looked sternly at me and asked me if I had checked in with the office and if we knew that teachers would not see families until next week. All this was said without smiles or cheerfulness. I could tell by her tone that she felt responsible for her other colleagues well being and couldn't possibly have this 3 going on 4 year old child get the impression that school was a flexible, come as you are, delight in us, expect us to expect you kind of place. She looked at me with restrained displeasure and I looked at her as if my son and I had traded places.
At the first meeting I attended at my son's school way back in the summer I was met with this type of reception. We were told to attend a meeting to give us information on the school and the kindergarten program. I brought all 3 of my children because I couldn't find care for them. Many others brought their children as well. A friend of mine told me that the school might have childcare for the children that came with the parents. Nonetheless I was keen on having my children with me. As I sat down I spotted parents with children seated beside them or on their laps. We were intensely drinking every word that was fed to us about the school and the program. Half-way through the meeting the same "experienced" teacher I spoke of before informed parents that if they have a child sitting in one of the chairs they need to ask the child to get up because this is after all a "parent meeting". I smiled because my children were not seated in any of the chairs and then my smiled opened up into shock as I realized what I had just witnessed.
As I walked out of the school I realized that things would be very different in "this" school environment. I recognized the insincere tones and concealed meanings behind words and gestures. The appearance of politeness laced with arrogance. It seems like we forget that parents know the script. They know what is really being said when we give advice and make unnecessary comments. As much as schools are supposed to be the hub of the community, the centre of our miniature universe, they can seem worlds away from what is familiar and welcoming. I felt both sad and disappointment for the school my son was so eager to be a part of and for the world I had left behind. I wondered if I had used those tones and gestures and if the parents I met had felt so dismissed and foreign.
I have decided not to tell my son's teacher that I am a teacher. I want to experience what most parents endure as the accompany their children on this life long journey.
Wish us blessings!
Note: This post was not about "teacher bashing". Some of my closest friends, Missy & Q are amongst the best teachers in the world.