Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Teaching and Parents

Parent Night - Done!!

Well, I made it through parent night. And as nervous as I was – and I’m not kidding – the old heart was racing, it was terrific. I love meeting the parents. Putting names and faces together. Seeing some of their children in them. And I love watching the parents’ faces as I talk, how excited they are for the school year, but how nervous they are too.

There is a reason I believe I am a better teacher for having children. For my teacher friends who do not have kids, please don’t think I mean to slight you. I truly do believe you can be a wonderful teacher and not have kids. But for me, something happened when I had children. I had no idea how powerful the love was for your kids. How you truly would do anything you could for this other person. How badly I wanted my children to succeed, to be happy, to enjoy life.

When Luke, and then Liam, started school I was floored by how hard it was for me. I wanted to go meet with each teacher and share their strengths and their faults. To tell them what they needed to be successful. This is why I now send a letter home at the start of every school year asking my students’ parents to write me anything I need to know about their child. Often parents comment on how happy they are to get this opportunity. That they love this chance to share their child, although it is hard to summarize everything needed to share in one page.

A former principal also told me something one day when we were discussing a child that was struggling in my class. He reminded me that parents want the best for their kids. They may not parent the way I would, but they aren’t keeping their “best” children at home. They are sending you what they have and they love their children more than anything.

Each parent has hopes and dreams for their children. I’d imagine that most parents hope for a better life for their children. The way they go about this might be different than my own actions, but we have a lot more in common then we’d think. 

And tonight I had the immense pleasure of meeting my niece, Vivian, for the first time. As I looked at Ryan and Mo’s faces I saw two things: exhaustion and love. Being parents for the first time is a humbling experience, but amazing in a way that takes your breath away. And thinking of my brother, his wife, and their new baby girl I said some prayers. Of course I prayed for health, happiness, and to be surrounded by love. But with parent night fresh in my mind and the faces of 71 students who cheered when I told them of Vivian’s arrival today, I prayed for educators to nurture, support, and adore her just as every child should be. For teachers that will be compassionate when she slips up and a cheerleader when she soars. But mostly I just loved her, which is what it’s really all about.  Welcome to the world, Vivian Jean. We sure do adore you already.