When my daughter began preschool I vowed to never be “that parent” who tells the teacher what and how to teach. Or to be “that parent” that demands to meet with the principal on a whim to tell him/her how to lead a school. I made this vow even under the pretense that due to my life’s work as an educator, it may be highly plausible that if I did tell a teacher what and how to teach-it might be beneficial for that teacher. Personally coaching a principal on how to lead a school might prove helpful as well.
Then this school year began, and I became “that parent.” The first day of school I requested a meeting with my daughter’s principal to request a placement change. Yes, the first day. Evidence? Minimal. Nonetheless, my husband and I sat across from the principal and pleaded our case. My hands shook, my heart raced, and my voice quivered. This request was met with a tone of annoyance and an air of complete disregard. Seventeen minutes later, I was back in my car driving home. As I drove home, I wondered if the meeting would have been different if I had stated that I am an Instructional Coach, that I can spot effectiveness quickly, that frankly- I know good teaching. I realized that the real essence that needed to be considered wasn’t the fact that I’m an educator, but the fact that I am a parent.
Two days later, we met again, but this time we had been upgraded to the conference room. This time my voice was strong. This time I spoke about teacher effectiveness, respectful relationships, an environment that promotes my daughter to excel, and a teacher that “inspires confidence.” Sixty- seven minutes later, I was driving home with the knowledge that Maya would be moved to another classroom. During that drive home I also realized that I had become a hypocrite.
How is it possible that when my blood, sweat, and tears are devoted to improving teachers, I did not want to give this teacher another day? I have fought for struggling teachers to be given a chance. And yet, with this teacher, I couldn’t be bothered. I have been at school sites where teachers do not “inspire confidence” but I state that they deserve the opportunity to improve. I toss and turn at night thinking about how I can better support teachers who need to get better-quickly.
This school year I am beginning with an internal conflict. What I say and do is good enough for other teachers, but not for my child’s teacher. This hypocrisy has me rattled. I am questioning my identity as an educator. Beginning the year in this manner has me rather concerned about what might come next…
What internal conflicts are you struggling with this school year?