You wave goodbye, smile, and give a quick nod in encouragement.
Looking at the face of this nervous, anxious child doing their best to be brave. There might even be a tear shed, from all parties involved. You force yourself to ignore that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach, to go give one more hug, and you turn around and leave them at school.
That is what most parents experience on the first day off to school. No matter which child it is, what age they are, or how long the day will be (whether number 1 or 4), there is always this unyielding temptation to run back in and shield them from anything the world might throw their way. That’s what makes us parents. The overwhelming need to protect our children from an endless list of onslaughts (some very real, some very much imagined).
You sit and wait, the clock ticking by, time can’t hurry enough. You eagerly look for the face of your child among all the others. Will it be a smile or a frown on their face? Will it be giggles with new friends or a tear streak on the cheek? Your heart goes… thud, thud, thud…
And there it is… A grin from ear to ear. SIGH!! This mama can now relax.
What happens during the time our children are at school? I’ll tell you!
Most times there is no bigger impact on a child’s life than that of a teacher! Wow, what pressure. Some children spend more time with their teachers than they do with their parents so we cannot possibly overestimate the role that a teacher/coach plays in a child’s “upbringing”.
Now I am not saying that how a child experiences school is determined 100% by the teacher, I know there are other factors involved too, like other children, etc. But for the purpose of this post, I am concentrating on the educator.
My biggest fear for my children is that they will end up with a teacher that doesn’t offer the best for them. Being a teacher myself means that I am deeply aware of how much time, effort, and energy you put into your classroom each day. Hours of work that often go unnoticed by parents! Sometimes taking time away from your own family. Teaching is in many cases a thankless and exhausting profession. That’s why I choose to help my children’s teachers in any way I can. And I want to implore all parents to do so, even if it just means that we sign the Homework book daily :)
However, there are those teachers that have lost their luster for their job. Who are beyond exhaustion, hanging in for retirement, working to pay off the mortgage, and so forth. The teacher who dismisses my child, instead of engaging with them. The teacher that doesn’t have anything positive to say so resorts to words that embarrass and break down. The teacher that’s aggressive and unkind, who uses words like shut-up, stupid! What is my opinion as a teacher and a mother, about this kind of teacher?
Well… Maybe early on in your career, you had enthusiasm and a sense of excitement for walking into a classroom, head held high and ready to change lives for the better. Maybe, back then, you were not just happy to see an A on a test result, but also eager and determined to turn the F- into an A+. Maybe in those first years, you could walk home each day knowing that the child who is being bullied, neglected (or worse) got a tap on the shoulder and a word of encouragement from you! That your students knew you had their back. Maybe there was a day when all this was true, and that you were a great teacher. But maybe that day has passed, maybe (and, yes, I’m using a lot of “maybes” because I don’t mean to project), but MAYBE it is time to re-evaluate the kind of educator you are, what you stand for, and decide whether or not you are doing more harm than good. Maybe, just maybe, it is time for you to hang up your red pen, close the classroom door, and walk away… because the scars you may be inflicting might never heal – and we all know that is not why you became a teacher.
There is nothing a parent is more appreciative of than their child’s teacher (at least, I hope that is true for every parent). The teacher that chooses to come into the schoolyard with a smile on their face, despite what they might be feeling, the teacher that inspires, challenges, and loves their students. A teacher that works long hard hours, marking papers and writing positive comments while filing reports and meeting with concerned and sometimes difficult parents, to give advice and encouragement. The teacher with an open heart, willing to listen, understand, and accept, setting aside all biases. The teacher that is so consumed with love for what they do that their mere presence changes lives… Now that’s the kind of teacher I pray my children will encounter throughout their school careers.
For you see there are all types of children, personalities, and families that depend on you – dear teacher. All children look up to you, appreciate you, and respect you (even when they don’t always show it, or can’t say so themselves). We – as parents – are so grateful for the work you do in our children’s lives! You are more than a teacher, you are a hero for many! Yes, we know you don’t make millions, but you make a difference. You hold the power to shape presidents, doctors, scientists, sales technicians, mechanics, astronauts, and yes… even teachers. For you take a hand, open a mind, and touch a heart!
So… Dear Teacher… Thank you! And please, look after my child’s heart.