For a child to excel, there must be trust between teacher, child, and parent.
The excitement. The fear. The nervousness. The uncertainty. Even after teaching for 30 years, I never slept well the night before welcoming my new group of students. I tossed, turned, read, made lists, or walked the house until it was time to leave for school. One would think that with each passing year the fresh start to a new school year would get easier, more ritualistic, less unknown. But, no, these feelings never waned. I knew that many of my students had parallel fears, and they often brought these fears with them on the first day of school. Even by third grade, some children still shed tears and hid behind a parent as they stood at my door.
With all of these emotions active as the new school year unfolds, one of the most important concepts to embrace is TRUST. Each student, and each parent, makes the decision whether to trust the teacher. Trust is essential on both sides of the parent-teacher relationship. Parents are trusting a stranger to teach, care for, nurture, and discipline their child for seven hours a day. Teachers are trusting parents to help, support, and guide their child through the assignments done at home. Shamefully, as the years have passed, a less trusting attitude has seeped into the minds of parents in regard to teachers, and I wonder if it’s fear leading this mistrust. Many parents are afraid to trust someone else with the daily care of their child. I once had a principal who frequently told the staff, “Parents are sending you the best child they have.” The staff would always giggle and smile, as we knew we had a roomful of “best” “children”. In order for the teacher to get the best out of that “best child,” a trusting and communicative bond is essential between home and school.
When I was a first-year teacher, my mother had a sweet neighbor calligraph the poem “The Teacher” by Leslie Pinckney Hill. My silhouette is placed in the bottom right corner, and a simple black frame finishes it off nicely. This treasure hangs in my kitchen, where I saw it before the start of every school day. The first stanza says, “Lord, who am I to teach the way, / to little children day by day, / So prone myself to go astray?” Many days, this stanza would follow me to school, being repeated over and over in my head. I had to TRUST in my abilities to lead and teach, TRUST my students, and TRUST their parents.
My hope and prayer for all students, teachers, and parents is to have the best school year imaginable, with as few interruptions (or hiccups, as they are sometimes called) as possible. But, if a hiccup occurs, TRUST that it can be worked out, solved, and remedied with all involved.
Parents, work on trusting the teacher with your “best child,” and believe me, their best will shine through daily. Teachers, nurture those “best children” and trust in your strength and knowledge of your noble profession.