Monthly Archives: September 2011

Assumptions We Make

It’s back to school time. And like usual I’m ready for the routine it will bring back to our lives and sad for the end of the carefree days of summer. No, they weren’t really carefree for me, but it feels like they could be. Kind of living vicariously thru my kids’ freedom. And then back to school time comes and order is restored. Structure and schedules, projects and deadlines. It gives us all focus. I like having focus.

It also brings new teachers. And new rules. And sometimes new schools.

Each year I wait with anticipation for Back-to-School night. The chance to meet these adults who will spend a significant amount of time with my sons. I want to learn about them and want them to learn about my sons. It’s an interesting relationship between teachers, schools, parents and kids. There’s a lot of room for misunderstanding and a great potential for differences of opinion.

But I go into each school year with a set of assumptions. And I hold them until they are proven incorrect. It works for me. I make assumptions about my sons’ teachers.

I assume….

  • you became a teacher because you love teaching. You get jazzed by seeing the spark in a kid’s eye when they finally get a concept you’ve been working on. The moment when it all clicks.
  • you have a life outside of teaching. You have family, friends and other interests. There will be assignments that won’t get returned quickly because you only have so much time at the end of the day to read essays.
  • you enjoy the grades you teach. If you are a high school teacher, you like teenagers and choose to teach them. If you teach middle school you have a heart for early teens and get the stuff they are dealing with.
  • you really want to get to know each kid in your class, but with 6+ classes and 25+ kids in each class that’s really hard to do. 
  • your goal is for every child in your class to be successful. For each student to leave your class ready for the next step.
  • you have a lot of pressure to prepare students for tests and that sometimes conflicts with what you truly want to do in the classroom.
  • you have bad days. And it’s hard to leave your troubles at the door. So some days you will be grumpy for no apparent reason.
  • you want to support me as a parent. You want to work with me to encourage my son to be the best he can be.
  • you don’t like being taken advantage of or taken for granted.
  • you know you are one of 7 or 8 teachers my son has every day and you understand that it takes time to get to know what each teacher expects and values.
  • you respect that while you teach my child for an hour every day of the work week, I parent them every day of the year.
  • you believe it takes teachers, students and parents working together to make each student successful.

Very few times over the years have I had to change my assumptions about a teacher. And it makes me sad when I do. Sometimes people end up in places they didn’t choose or find out too late it wasn’t the right fit for them. Then I have to do my job as a parent and keep the best interest of my son top of mind. But, like I said, there have been very few times that has happened to us.

I hope my sons’ teachers make assumptions about the students in their class too.

You can assume my son…

  • wants to get a good education and is willing to work for it.
  • follows the rules and respects authority.
  • has evenings when he spends a little too much time laughing at the dinner table with his family and gets behind on his homework.
  • is a well-rounded individual with a variety of interests. Some of those interests will lead to activities afterschool, in the evening and on weekends and he will have to make choices to get it all done. Sometimes the choice will be to not finish some homework.
  • will forget an assignment or leave a paper at home occasionally. It happens to all of us and its never the end of the world.
  • will have bad days. Days when he is just off his game, grumpy or annoying.
  • will have a personality conflict with at least one teacher a semester. And understand if it’s you, it’s not personal. It will take effort, but he will work thru it.
  • is trying to find where he fits in to the world of his school. He’s trying to make sense of this place and where he belongs. That may lead him to say or do things that he later regrets.
  • will push the boundaries now and then. And I expect you to push back. That’s how he learns his limits.
  • is faced with hundreds of choices a day. Many of which could take him down the wrong path. He wants to choose wisely, but he’s still a teenager.
  • has some subjects he loves and others he really dislikes. Some classes will be more fun, because of who he is and not how you teach.
  • he is a good kid who is loved very much by his parents.

And finally, teachers make assumptions about parents. And that’s ok.

Here are some assumptions you can make about me…

  • I am torn daily between the urge to swoop in and fix things for my child and the awareness that I will only be fixing it for the moment and not helping in the long run.
  • I have very high expectations for my sons and hold them accountable. I believe in consequences and exceptions.
  • I want my sons to be generous, compassionate, driven, faithful adults.
  • Some days I’m crabby. There will be times when I come home from work and am exhausted. And I will be frustrated by an assignment that feels like busy work or a last minute addition.
  • Though I only hear one side of the story, I will try to stand up for you and defend your position.
  • I believe I am ultimately responsible for the upbringing of my child.
  • I will disagree with some of your assignments, grades or decisions, but respect your authority as his teacher.
  • I forget things. Even when you tell me at back to school night or conferences. Even when I signed the form. I need reminders.
  • I like hanging out with my sons. And some nights I don’t want them to spend the whole evening in their rooms doing homework.
  • I’m not a parenting expert, but I have a combined 45 years experience parenting these 3 boys. I know them well. I know when they are trying to pull one over and when they are genuinely stuck.
  • I expect my sons to contribute to our family. They help cook meals, do laundry, clean house, mow the lawn and work part-time jobs. It’s good life experience and I am preparing them to be good husbands some day.
  • I could not do what you do every day. I appreciate that there are people who are willing to teach my sons.

Assumptions have gotten a bad rap. They are often assumed to be incorrect beliefs. What if we assumed the best in each other until (or unless) we are proven wrong?

1 Comment

Filed under Advice, Parenting, School

Dear Lunch Lady,

You had an opportunity and you blew it. On the third day of school. I don’t know if you realize what happened, but you should have. My son is at a new school this year, with new rules, new routines, new teachers and plenty of anxiety. You had the opportunity to help him settle in, to let him know the school is a place where people care about him. But instead you taught him something very different.

He came to your lunch line and told you he left his ID and check to add money to his lunch account in his classroom. On the third day of school. At a new school. With new rules, routines and teachers. You made him wait until all the other students had gone through the line. And then you only allowed him a cheese sandwich and milk since there wasn’t enough money in his account for his lunch.

Shame on you.

You could have allowed him to go get his money and ID. You could have told him he had to go to the office to be allowed back in the classroom. You could have talked to his teacher. You could have treated him with respect and understanding. On the third day of school. At a new school. With new rules, routines and teachers.

But you did not. Shame on you.

You did not teach him to remember his ID or check. You taught him that the adults at his new school are mean and don’t care about him. You taught him that he can’t depend on them. That’s what he heard and that makes me sad.

I hope when you are in a bind, someone shows you more respect and understanding than you showed to my son. On the third day of school. At a new school. With new rules, routines and teachers.

Sincerely,

His Mom

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