Saturday, September 5, 2015

They deserve to be Safe and Sound

Schools are tricky places. Some are super small, and all the kids know each other. Others have hundreds to thousands of kids trying to make it through each day. All schools in turn need teachers. We're kind of an important part of the whole process, right? :)

So, when you send your kiddo off to be at school you are truly relying on the teacher to be the adult, the safety to your child. The teacher becomes the "go-to" for making sure your kiddo feels safe, happy, and
ready to learn. As a teacher and a dad, I try to bring that feeling to my classroom. I want my students to know that they are safe, not only from harm, but they are also safe to learn.

The reason I'm bringing this up has to do with a moment my oldest son experienced last week at his elementary school open house. These events are managed chaos. You have kids and their parents going every which way. Some open houses have a scavenger hunt activity to make sure you go to all the necessary places (pick up binder go here, PE outfit go there, don't forget the lunchroom!) and others are just free-for-alls. Through the hoopla, one of his teachers from last year saw him from across the way, and came over to give him a hug. That's right.. she went out of her way to come see him, give him a hug, and talk to him about his summer.

It was that moment that defined his academic experience last year. What made things great for him, is that the teacher cared for him each day. My wife and I knew she cared from the very first conference we had with her, because she was able to tell us who he is as a person, and learner. She knew his sensitivities, she knew his struggles, and she was able to tell us how she was going to help. As a teacher, that is what I try to do with all 110+ students I have each year. When a parent calls or writes, I want them to see that I know their kiddo. That I'm on their team. That I'm a trusted adult to their student.

This need for care was further supported this week when I was talking to our babysitter. She was telling me about a teacher she had when she was in high school. He was the state teacher of the year. I asked what made him so great? Was it dynamic lessons? Was it his amazing use of classroom technology?

Her response was that he was simply a nice guy. He made everyone want to learn, because it was clear he wanted them all to succeed. She admitted that it sounded crazy, and that there must have been more to it.
But I get it. His relationship to the students was so strong, that they loved learning in his room. They wanted to be there. He made that feeling happen for them.

And THAT, that right there is what all kiddos deserve from school. They deserve a safe, caring place where they can spread their wings and soar. A place where they can feel valued, so that learning can happen. It is near impossible to teach that to people. You either care for the kiddos in your room, or you don't.

So parents, trust your instincts when it comes to teachers. You can tell within a few minutes of conversation just what type of teacher you're dealing with. You should be able to tell when a person is authentic and real with your kiddo. You can hear when the teacher truly understands what makes your kiddo tick. And if you're not sure, your kiddo will be able to tell you for sure! So ask and listen. If your student is talking about how great his/her teacher is, than that's a good sign! Roll with it. Or send an email just asking how things are going. The response should show insight into who your kiddo is as a person and student. You should know that in the teacher's room your child is safe and sound. Hmm.. reminds me of a song :)


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