When I was a little kid in Grade 1, teachers were larger than life iconic figures. They wielded great knowledge, patience and imagination; and were to be respected, listened to and appreciated.
Fast forward several years and things are different — kids, families, and teachers have changed. Topics like personal space, appropriate touch, and other life realities that weren’t on the radar when I was a kid are now openly discussed at home and in the classroom. This is a very good thing. I’m curious though if that same awe, respect, and wonder in starting school is still there like it was for me or is it now fraught with anxiety, vigilance and entitlement?
I started thinking about this after a discussion I had with a young mom who was seeking advice on how to deal with her daughter’s first-grade teacher.
As the story goes, on one of the first days of school this young woman’s child (we’ll call her Gabby) doodled all over the back of her notebooks, the teacher told her to stop and not do it again.
This discipline upset the girl who then went home and told her mom who now feels she needs to fix the situation.
In my opinion, however, there’s nothing to fix. The teacher laid down a ground-rule and Gabby didn’t like it. It’s up to the child to learn and respect the rules of the classroom while understanding that mom can’t, and shouldn’t, rush in to rectify every possible situation.
In our conversation, the mom openly admitted she didn’t like the teacher. She called her “bossy” and didn’t like how the teacher “judged” kids on their printing and listening skills. Hmm, this begs the question, what is the role of a teacher? And, should this mom be concerned?
In the given situation, you can put another spin on it and give the parent the benefit of the doubt. Questions need to be asked. Sometimes it comes down to semantics. Is the teacher being firm or are they a bully? If a teacher, especially of elementary school kids, is unresponsive, uncaring and/or demeaning then that’s a different story and intervention is necessary.
The thing we need to keep in mind is that kids feed off parents words, moods, and negative energy. If they notice you talking to other parents in the playground and hear disapproving tones about their teacher they’re going to react in the classroom against that teacher.
Way back when I was in elementary school, students were expected to suck it up and go with the flow. This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Please correct me if I’m wrong but many parents are now so involved with the schools and teachers, lines get blurred.
Both parents and students need to realize we don’t always have to like everyone in a personal, warm and fuzzy way but that doesn’t mean we have the right to be rude or call names. Unless the parent has a legitimate complaint about abuse or neglect then the situation should be used as a learning opportunity. We don’t always get what we want in life and need to learn how to adapt to different circumstances, people, and methods of delivery.
I’m not saying throw your kid to the wolves if there are serious concerns. Keep tabs on what’s going on in the classroom. Talk to the teacher and ask them to define their classroom philosophy and discipline procedures. This puts everyone on the same page and opens the communication. And remember, just because you don’t like someone doesn’t give you carte blanche to be rude or project that negativity onto your kids. Be aware.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached through her website at www.fayeearcand.com.