Some of the most profound learning experiences in my life have come when I have been forced to examine some issue or situation from a new perspective. These lessons have taught me the critical importance of tolerance and of recognizing the various sides of any controversy.
I’ve had one such eye-opening experience over the past several weeks. My oldest child has begun kindergarten at the elementary school that acts as a “sister school” to the middle school at which I teach. He is close by, and yet a world away.
During the first month of school, I have dealt with the numerous and redundant forms that needed to be filled out and the inconvenient open house times. I’ve had to respond to disciplinary problems, and schedule parent-teacher conferences. I’ve annoyed his teacher with unnecessary email and I’ve shown up unannounced at his classroom. In short, I’ve been the kind of parent that has always irritated me as an educator.
The irony hasn’t been lost on me, or on his teacher, and we have discussed my awareness of my oxymoronic behavior. She, in turn, has asked me to give her feedback from a parent’s perspective, informed by my teaching experience. She has at times calmed me down, built me up, and soothed my fears. She has achieved what I have never really attempted–teaching a educator/parent how to be a better parent. Her skill and tact are made all the more amazing when you realize that she has no children of her own. All of her expertise in this regard comes from experience (slightly more than my own number of years in the profession), and it is as impressive as her ability to teach reading and mathematics. I am more than a little embarrassed to admit that I have learned more from my son’s Kindergarten teacher than he has. So far.
And so, I can say humbly that I am a more prepared parent than I was two months ago, and a more aware teacher. And my son hasn’t had any problems in two weeks. Nice work, Ms. B. Now, if we can just straighten out his dad.