Parents are people too
Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life writing challenge.
I decided to blog around the word kindness this month. I want to focus on the good in the world and how we can be kinder everyday.
As teachers and members of the education community, parent communication is vital for the success of our students. Speaking with parents regularly about their child's successes and challenges will only strengthen the relationship between school and home.
What do we do when parents/families won't speak with us?
What do we do when they schedule meetings and then don't show up?
What do we do when they seem nervous or hesitant to even come in the building?
Often times I hear things like "Well, if they just cared then they would be here" or "Why won't they talk to me? The students is (insert negative comment about behavior or academic progress)?"
Lets stop and think about this from a perspective of kindness and compassion.
Some parents had a negative experience when they were in school. School was not a safe and comfortable place for them and that hasn't changed. Instead of feeling warm and excited when walking into a school building they feel the cold cinder block walls and the long hallways.
Some parents are working 2 or 3 or 4 jobs and don't have the time or energy to come to school. They'd love to dedicate more time to their child's education but getting food on the table and paying the bills is the top priority.
Some parents are just tired of hearing it. They are tired of every time they come to school they hear about how bad their kid is doing or behaving in class. They have to be thinking "why can't you see the wonderful things my kid does? They way he/she smiles when they come home or play with their favorite toy."
Before calling a parent we must first realize we are talking to another human being who is at a bare minimum as invested in this kid as we are. They care about this child even if its in ways that are different than we care about our own children. They have battles and situations and lives that we haven't experienced. Unless we go in with an open mind we will never get rid of the fear or uncomfortable feelings some parents have.
It's our job as teachers and school personnel to bridge the gap between the fears or hesitation to come into school and what it would really be like to walk into your classroom. So far I've found anywhere outside of the building is a great place to start easing their discomfort. Even if you just meet the parent outside while they are picking up or dropping off their student, say hi, tell them a positive thing about their child or a funny story and walk away.
There are MANY situations with parents and families that we will encounter in our career but start with kindness and compassion, even if they don't. If you finally get a parent into your classroom to discuss their child please, please, don't bombard them with all of the negative things and all of the things they should be doing at home. They'll never come in again...would you?
Parents are people who care about their kids. Let's keep that in mind.