A Teacher’s Plea to Parents – tell your child’s teacher this

Bhs_int_classroom_ssA teacher’s impassioned plea has changed my view of the upcoming first day of school. I always knew children came to school with emotional burdens but her description made it all too real and more than just a little troubling.

Our teachers are spending hours with children who often walk with emotional limps, maybe even more hours than the children’s parents. Yet their emotional burdens are often hidden from the teachers.

child thinking The teacher, Anna, wrote me after I posted information about dealing with student grief. I had written that my son and daughter-in-law both taught school. One teaches 3rd grade in Boulder, Colorado and the other teaches Spanish in Gresham, Oregon.

I wrote that while their classrooms and students are miles apart in more than distance, they are bound together by the realities that their students come from very real families with real life experiences.

grandpa died a few days later I shared about when my four sons were going back to school just after my father died. It had been a mild summer, the kind when you needed to wear a sweater and the creeks were cold.

I look at this photo of my sons and their cousins and I sigh, knowing that a few days later their grandpa would die.

The first day of that new school year my sons carried new backpacks and wore their new clothes. My sons also wore the new mantle of grief along with their Reeboks.

th (26)One teacher in particular impressed me with how she dealt with my first grader’s reaction to school and to the loss of his Grandpa. She let him sleep with no shame or teasing. He didn’t sleep long, just dozed off now and then for a few minutes.

When he awoke she quietly caught him up on what the class was doing. He felt safe.

“What a lovely story, Shaun,” Anna wrote me back. “What an understanding teacher! And wow, you’ve touched a nerve in me here!”

problems“I want to make a plea to parents to make sure to let teachers know what’s going on in their children’s lives, she wrote.

“Don’t assume teachers know anything! Even if you’ve talked with a school counselor, often times they do not effectively communicate with the teachers.”

kind teacher

“As a teacher and a human being I strive always to be kind,” she went one. “I often have been surprised to find out at the END of the semester or year, once students feel safe with me, all kinds of things that I wish I had known at the START.”

pregnant“I learn a parent committed suicide the previous summer, a girl was raped and is in foster care, an aunt was shot by her boyfriend and a student is transgender. And that was just PART of this last year!”

griefThere is fear and shame and secrecy. I understand the impulse to hide, to put on a good face, and to meet the world as best you can each day.”

parent and teacher“Oh, but the teacher needs to know the whole child in order to treat him/her appropriately, according to their needs!”

amos-sewell-parent-teacher-conference-saturday-evening-post-cover-december-12-1959Anna’s plea to parents reminds of a Saturday Evening Post picture I saw as a child. How much things have changed since parent teacher conferences of 1959!

soldiers away from homeThe range of issues that may be on students minds are not easily packaged these days into simple approaches.

parental grief Some parents may be dealing with grief as profound as their child’s.

teacher It may not be easy for teachers to reach out to students in a way that is effective and respectful, especially given the size of classes today.

not alone Teachers and parents need to remember they are not alone in reaching out to and educating a hurting child. There is support in their shared approach.

There are resources too.
One site that has hundreds of articles and videos on child resiliency, teaching methods and lifelong learning is Edutopia. It was funded through the George Lucas Foundation.
You can reach this informative website by clicking here

An example of one of the articles you will find there can be found by clicking on this link:
Support Grieving Students, an Edutopia Article

teacher A special thank you to Anna for inspiring this post. Teachers like her create environments where all are learning – teacher, parent, child. I like that.

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