Friday, September 14, 2012

Partnership with Teachers

Ben had the wrong teacher. No two ways about it. He was 4 turning 5 in preschool and the time we didn't know he had a gluten intolerance and after snack his teacher told me he would be so sad over something insignificant in the playground that he would sit and sulk for a half an hour. When I asked her questions about it, tensions flared. It occurred to me that she was making him wrong, like he "should be able to get over it at this age." and "not get so upset." I don't remember if those were her words but that's what I heard. Something was "wrong" with my son according to her. HELL no.
Why wasn't she sitting down with him and asking him about it and working it out? She said it was a rough year, there were a lot of "criers" in the class.
I was angry with her. I reacted in survival mode, all in a frenzy, and tossed and turned in bed. I spoke to the director and she agreed that it was best to switch Ben out of her class, because the teacher "just has that style of letting children work it out by themselves" which didn't work for Ben or me. So after Christmas, when he had turned five, we told him because he was older, he was going to a new class. It was right next to the other one and I avoided eye contact with the teacher. Only a mother who has had a preschooler can appreciate how much drama this is. It is like the end of the world to a mother when her child is not doing well in school. Her soul is heavy and sad. Mine was.

Then, two years later, Bodee got the same teacher. She was the only one who did five day Pre K. The only class I wanted my son in at the only preschool I wanted him in. He had already been there a year and a half and loved it. I was so confronted. OH NO. I thought. This year is going to suck. Should I pull him from the school?
With grave concern, my friend said I should. My insides felt knotted and wrong.

Then I got that I was reacting to a circumstance rather than creating.
So she was Bodee's teacher now. That's what was so.
I could create Powerful Partnership with her no matter what. Circumstances do not dictate my life. Teacher's personalities don't define my child's experience. We can be powerful in the face of anything.
So I went to the class early on the first day. I got a moment alone with her, loked her directly in the eye and said,"We have had our differences in the past. But you are Bodee's teacher now and I want you to know that I have it that you are the perfect teacher for Bodee."
What premise did I have for that? Nothing. I only had it that way because I made it up. Because I wanted it to be that way, so I said so.
She looked at me hesitently at first, questioning, body slanted away from me. I said "I mean it. you and Bodee are going to get along great. He needs exactly who you are."
Her eyes became clear and grateful. She took a deep breath and turned towards me.
"Really? Thank you. I really want to have a great year."
"We will." I declared. "And if you need anything, we will be here to volunteer early everyday."
"Oh, Wow."
"I want to thank you for your partnership in educating Bodee it means alot to me that he has a fun year and learns alot."
"Oh he will. Thanks so much" she said joyfully.
We smiled brilliant, free smiles and chatted more about Bodee's likes and dislikes. We were total partners. Connected and committed.

That year was the better than I ever imagined. We got to school early, swept and cut papers, and supported her in whatever was needed and chatted with her. I got to listen to her about her marriage dilemmas and support her through a tough time. I got to know what an incredibly committed woman she is to teaching and I grew to adore her, really truly love the person she is.
Bodee was the teacher's pet, helpful and kind. Some people had warned me, because of Bodee's passion and drive to win, that he was going to be difficult in school. That was so not the case. He did brilliantly. The partnership he experienced between the teacher and I had him be confident, proud and engaged. Had I been hesistant, resentful and fearful I am sure he would have felt that. We would have been late, not in communication and resisting school. But that's not what I was committed to. I was committed to powerful partnership, so I created it. And it was present in the room. The class was connected, warm and fun.

At the end of the year, the teacher gathered all the parents and literally cried in gratitude for us and the bond we had created that year. Tears rolled down her face and we all cried too. There was love and connection that was highly unusual. It was like we were a sisterhood.
Two years later, Bodee still asked to see her and kept her card and picture by his bed. He couldn't have loved his PreK experience more. When he went to Kindergarten he was already at the level of learning where they wanted the students to be in January. He sailed through school and is still excelling. When he has acting auditions I have no qualms about pulling him out early to drive to LA. If he wasn't doing well, there is no way I would do that.

Partnership makes a difference in much bigger ways than we initially imagine. Creating that the teacher or child gets is the PERFECT TEACHER, no matter what ( ok except abuse, I am talking about decent teachers), whether we like them or not or they talk funny or seemed rushed or matter what...creating Powerful Partnership is possible. The impact is that the kids sense that trust, they feel safe, they look forward to the day and learning from someone that you respect.

So often, parents complain about the teachers in front of the kids and they think they are protecting their kids...they think they are expressing their love by siding with the kids and blaming the teacher for too much homework or fact this causes a struggle and insecurity for the child. They feel unsafe, distrusting and resentful towards the teacher and even down right confused as to why their parent would send them to school for 6 hours to be with someone they don't like. That is the opposite of what a parent is committed to!

So LOVE your child's teacher as you love your child, and give them a chance to grow and be strong and be able to be with any teacher and however that teacher is, that they work...and you empower your child to be powerful in any situation.

Zen Honeycutt

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