As my own child enters kindergarten, I’m finding myself referring again and again to a basic principle when dealing with my students: is this how I want my child’s teacher to treat him? While it seems simple, I think that if more decisions on all levels–from the classroom to the building to the district–were made based on this principle, we’d be a lot better off.
I was especially reminded of this as I dealt with a student during the first week of school. His mother had already contacted me to let me know that she wanted frequent updates on her child’s behavior and performance. I had already responded to her positively, letting her know that her child had helped another student get caught up with the previous assignment. Unfortunately, I can’t claim to always be so good corresponding with parents. I chalk my diligence up my own unease surrounding my son’s first few days of school. In other words, I was transferring my own anxiety and relieving it by taking action with this parent.
The encounter became more painful as a discipline issue arose with the student. I had already established a rapport with the parent (and maybe I was already seeing their situation paralleling my own situation with my son and school), so I absolutely hated sending that email to inform the parent of this first problem. I was envisioning receiving a similar email from my son’s teacher in the future. As such, it completely changed the way I interacted with this parent. Instead of the anger I sometimes feel when dealing with discipline issues, I approached the situation with compassion, empathy, and understanding. I just imagined how I would feel if I were dealing with this scenario with my own son.
I submit that all educational decisions should be made with this same compassion, empathy, and understanding. Do we want our kid to be in that computerized remediation program? Do we want our kid to attend a school with a subpar art department or limited extra-curricular activities? Think about what we want for our children, and lets try to create that for all of our students.