Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School and Getting the RIGHT Teacher

I see the increased emails going back and forth in my Moms Club and hear the parents at the pool talking in hushed tones, "Which teacher did you request? Do you know anything about Miss. Jessica? What about Miss. Lori*? I heard she was...I hope my kids don't get..."

I totally get the anxiety and anticipation of our children's experience at school. I used to bite my nails when I opened the letter from the preschool. I used to get a serious, scrunched face when other Moms talked about their children's teachers and listen intently to see what my child's future might hold. I totally get the utter and complete devotion it takes for a Mom to be committed so much to her child that which teacher her child gets consumes her being. That's love. That's dedication.
I just don't feel that way anymore.
And it's not because I don't love my child or care about which teacher they have.
Of course I want them to have the best teacher. Of course I love my child and would kill bears for them and maybe even picket outside a Principal's home if I thought it would make a difference.
That's my point. It won't make a difference, at least not the difference that matters to my husband and I.
Years ago, when I considered sending my children to private school even though we live in Irvine, which is touted as one of the best school districts in Southern California, my husband said seriously to me, "I want our children to be able to excel no matter what educational experience they have. We live in this great community and I want the kids to know the kids in their neighborhood and go to this good school with them." Ok. End of story. And I agree.

His point is that it is our responsibility as parents and our children's responsibility for their own lives that makes the real difference.
It is totally normal for we humans to have the idea that a certain teacher will CAUSE a certain EFFECT or result in our child's education and therefore cause a certain future of success, mediocrity or failure... therefore, we must CAUSE our kids to have the best teacher. It's survival of the fittest. It's anxiety ridden. It's never ending.
It's also dis-empowering.

See, if we follow this CAUSE and EFFECT idea, then a certain teacher will cause a certain effect and that is that. The child is stuck with that teacher and then stuck with the limited results...leading to a limited future. We can never time travel go back to the past and change which teacher our kids gets assigned to, how they were treated or taught or what the results were. The teacher defines our child's future.

So to be a normal human being and to live by CAUSE and EFFECT in any area...if that happens then this will happen..and then I will feel this way and oh well, we'll see.. is so dis-empowering I want to rant and rave and shake people by the shoulder and hug it out of them when I hear it in casual conversation.
Here's where I beg you to get the impact of, this Cause and Effect Poppycock in education:

What message does the anxiety we have over a certain teacher, certain school, certain talented program, say about our CHILDREN? What does this Cause and Effect idea say about what THEY are capable of, responsible for, or what is possible for them???
This idea that our children must have a certain teacher, education, school or scholarship to excel in life is totally dis-empowering. It makes them small. It makes them a victim of the system. It makes them At The Effect of something else, outside of them. Our child's power no longer lies with them, it is over there with that teacher, right or wrong.
It also puts all of the responsibility on the teachers. What kind of experience is that for the teachers and principals if they feel like we as parents NEED to have a certain classroom, at a certain time, with a certain teacher in order for the mystical minutia of our child's life to magically line up and create a successful school experience and life FOR them?
I suggest this shows a lack of trust in ourselves as parents and in our children's capabilities. Which is human, it's normal, it's just not, again, empowering.

There are two kinds of points of view we can have about life:
Dis-empowering or Empowering.
I choose Empowering. For everyone.

I do not imply here that the teachers don't matter. Teachers are extraordinary. Their education, style and commitment matter.They matter and they make a difference. They just don't define my children's future. My children do.
I chose to focus on empowering my child for the coming school year, and creating with them that WHATEVER teacher THEY get is the PERFECT teacher for them. Their classroom is perfect, their school is perfect and all they need to do is show up with their perfect selves and PARTNER with their teacher in their education, CREATING their own education and experience in life.

For those of you who scoff and say, well, your kid goes to a Blue Ribbon school, sure you can say that perfect BullS^%T. My kid goes to a dump of a school and their teacher is a lazy jerk.
I got it. That sucks. AND you CHOOSE to send your kid to school there even if you think you don't have a choice. We all have choice. If you can't afford a better area, move to a different state, if you can't get a better job to do that, pull your kid out and home school. If you both need to work just to put food on the table (not Gucci on your wrist), then look your kid in the eye and tell them something like,
"This school is what it is, it may not be pretty and the teachers may do what they do. That's what just what they do.In the meantime, we KNOW you will excel no matter what. That's how smart you are and how much we believe in you. No matter the situation is at school, we want you to ask yourself, Are you proud of who YOU are BEING?"

If the situation doesn't seem right, we can teach our kids, no matter what, to be committed, to have integrity, responsibility and generosity. Because in the long run, that CEO of a company or Investor is not going to hire or partner with our kids because they had Miss. Jessica instead of Miss. Lori...or because of their grades and what they KNOW. They will partner and create with our kid and our kids will make a difference in this world and be successful because of who they are BEING. And if our children is proud of who he or she is being, THAT is success.

Zen Honeycutt

Not that they need it, but to find out more about a program for your child 8-13yrs that empowers them to have integrity, responsibility and generosity, look up The Landmark Forum for Young People at
And no I do not get compensated in anyway from Landmark, I just love this program!

* These names are made up and I apologize if they coincide with any real teachers names that may or may not be talked about.

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