All Students Have Parents
I know this title seems obvious, but it bears stating. Sometimes, teachers need to remember that the annoying, obnoxious, head-splitting monster sitting in their classrooms is someone’s darling baby. Keeping that in mind helps a teacher approach students with lovingkindness. Of course, expectations must be set. Redirects are launched. Rules are followed.
But, when we teachers remember that each and every one of these students is the love of a parent’s life, patience is better followed. And patience is something every teacher practices on a moment-to-moment basis. Deep breath. Consider, then speak. Are comments intended to help a child succeed? Is criticism provided to strengthen a student’s skills? This is the role of a “good” teacher.
Our job is to not demoralize a student, but to build him/her up. And children have bad days, too. There are family dynamics that must be considered. Kids come to the classroom not in a vacuum, but in context. I used to tell my high school juniors when they came into my classroom wailing about having a fight with their mamas, “Good. You need to have conflicts with your moms. How else are they going to let you leave for college? If you had a perfect relationship with absolutely no problems, mamas would never let you leave the nest. Fly, birdie, fly.”
That may seem unnecessarily flippant, but it’s true. As my child transitions into adolescence, I realize that his autonomous, growing-up self is striving for the independence he needs in order to leave home. I have many moments when I tilt my head at his behaviors. He makes mistakes. He errs in judgment. But, he’s learning. He’s maturing and growing and testing out his new independence.
However, in the process, I pray each and every one of his teachers see the darling baby I still see in his eyes. He may be five foot nine inches tall and awkward and gangly… but he was once a squishy, yummy baby. He’s still MY baby.
And that reminds me… each and every one of my students is someone’s baby, too.
Elizabeth Beck is a mother and a teacher. She is the author of two books of poetry. In 2011, she founded The Teen Howl Poetry Series that serves the youth of central Kentucky. For more information about Elizabeth, please visit: elizbeck.com