Best of intentions

homework photoMost teachers have the best of intentions, and deep down they want the same things I do: children who are independent, confident, and resilient. But, like many parents, they don’t always see where they’re interfering with those goals. And besides that, fostering independence is often simply not convenient.

So when the desire for things to go smoothly in the classroom starts to obscure those shared goals of independence, confidence, and resilience … I push back:

Teacher email: “Charlotte had stated she left a pile of homework papers at home on a table. I’m hoping she can bring them in on Monday for review during French time. Any assist with reminders Sunday evening or Monday morning is welcome.”

My response: “I know your intentions are good and you’re trying to help Charlotte, but reminders from Mom only serve to interfere with her growing independence. I trust she’ll figure out a way to remember on her own (maybe not right away, but soon enough).”

I happened to have another discussion about reminders with a different teacher shortly after. Here’s how it went:

Teacher: “Charlotte does well when she’s reminded of what she needs to do.”

Me: “Hmm. I know it seems like a reminder would help her to remember next time, but it actually has the opposite effect.”

Teacher: “Well, she doesn’t seem to be making those connections on her own.”

Me: “I know you’re trying to keep on a schedule so I’m guessing she doesn’t have many chances to practice.”

Teacher: “Yes, I can see that maybe the problem is I’m expecting change to happen too quickly.”

This was a highly constructive conversation with a teacher who was open to considering another point of view. These conversations don’t always go so well. Here’s one more I’ve had:

Me: “One thing you should know about me. I’m not willing to be the homework police. My job is to notice progress and effort when it happens, and make sure she knows I love her no matter what.”

Teacher: “So let me get this straight. You expect us to keep her on track in school, but you’re not willing to do the same at home?”

Me: “No, actually. If you want to let her get off track and stay there and allow some natural consequence to result, that’s fine with me.”

Teacher: Long, incredulous stare.

So, ok, they don’t always go well, these conversations. But either way they are well worth having.

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Miscellaneous

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5 Comments on “Best of intentions”

  1. shrubio Says:

    Mom did she actually type “Long Incredulous stare” ?

  2. Papa Says:

    Hard to find that exact locution that says just precisely what you mean. It’s especially fascinating to see how these behavioral “push-ups” beget gain-through-pain.

    • flockmother Says:

      Yes. And how learning is so often interrupted by the fast pace we set for ourselves. The inconvenient truth: learning takes time.

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