[This post has been rattling around in my head after EduCon and really had to be written after a truly wonderful conversation I had with a parent today.]
“The teachers here really know my child.”
I’ve heard many parents tell me some version of that. What is amazing is that parents take this as something rare or unique – and that always makes me sad. The reason all of us at SLA really are so adamant about saying “We teach kids <subject>” instead of “We teach <subject>” is that we never want us to lose sight of the child in front of us. Because when we lose sight of the humanity of our students, we lose the soul of what it means to be a teacher.
“Tell me about my child in your class.”
The answer to that question has to be more than a line in a gradebook or a purely academic answer. As a parent, I am certainly concerned with my children’s academic progress, but I also want to know that you see that Jakob is slyly funny and deeply kind or that Theo has a truly creative mind that comes out powerfully when he draws and that he loves to tell jokes, even when the punchline seems to make sense only to him.
When we see the kids we teach as only students in our classes, we can see what value our classes hold for each of them, rather than just assume that all kids will “need this some day.”
When we see the kids we teach as full people, we can help them develop passion, interests and strengths, rather than just seeing kids as data to be mined, deficits to be remediated, or vessels to be filled.
When we understand that our students have vital and vibrant lives outside of the moments we see them, we can understand that they have racial, gender, religious, economic and social identities that they bring with them to the classroom and that our students bring all that they are to the classroom every day – just like we do.
When we make the attempt to see our children for all that they are, we can listen to all that they say, and we can care for them, not just care about them.
And then, when their families ask us to tell them what we know, our hearts, our minds and our voices will overflow with all we cannot wait to share.