One of the most famous movie lines ever. Can you remember which movie it was from? For those old enough...it was from 'Field of Dreams' starring Kevin Costner. This famous line got me thinking about how we build relationships with those around us - particularly teachers, parents and students - and how when we begin to create those relationships, they can grow into something amazing.
As we are very quickly approaching a new school year in Australia, we all start to prepare ourselves. Teachers are setting up their classrooms and are planning for the first term. Parents are getting supplies ordered and ready for their kids and let's face it... the kids are most likely still thinking about holidays!
It is usually the beginning of the year that brings about the most angst for everybody though.
Parents are wondering what their child's new teacher is going to be like, teachers are wondering what parents and students will be like and we all have these imaginings and hopes for the year to come.
But in reality, we do not need to hope. Our best outcome is through our own creation.
Teaching is about relationships. That is the bottom line. Building relationships is THE most important thing we can do.
But let me make this very simple and very clear - this is not just the role of the teacher. This is also the role of the parent and student. We all have a responsibility to be actively seeking out and creating healthy connections throughout the school year.
But we all know from experience, that it isn't always smooth sailing.
The only reason for this is EGO. Our ego wants us to be right in every situation and because as, adults we don't like to be wrong, it creates tension in our relationships and this is often passed on to students.
So how do we build relationships that are healthy and where each party feels valued and heard?
There are a few important things we all need to know and understand when it comes to building healthy and strong relationships.
Relationships to Learning
I know for a fact - that the relationship between a teacher and parent is one of the most important relationships that require patience, nurturing and most of all, understanding. No significant learning occurs without building significant relationships. Don't be fooled into thinking that the teacher-parent relationship has no impact on your child and their learning. It absolutely does.
It's about control and certainty
The thing that we often don't realise is that what happens in the classroom is the one area of life that is out of parents' control. They are not in the classroom for hours each day, they do not always know what is happening because we know students do not go home and share every detail of their day! So they rely on the communication from the teacher.
For the teachers: From my experience, parents simply want to know what is happening. Building relationships with parents require open lines of communication. Yes, sometimes they ask a lot of questions and send a lot of emails and can appear impatient because they so desperately want to have answers in a section of their children's lives that they can not control. But I usually find the following helps: allow them to ask the questions, avoid feeling annoyed by the questions, have an understanding that their intention is probably not to annoy you but to gain information! And be patient with them, this could be all new to them.
For the parents: As teachers, our greatest desire is that you trust that we always have your child's best interest at heart. I get that there are moments of frustration but remember, what you hear from your child will only be a tiny snapshot of the whole story. Building trust, understanding and a relationship with the teacher requires communication. You are always better of asking a question before assuming anything. Be patient with them too. This could all be new to them too.
Children learn more from what you are than what you teach
When it comes to the relationship between parents and teachers, we need an understanding that we both know your children in a different way. What teachers see at school is not always as what parents see at home and vice versa. Children are complex but they understand how rules work and apply differently in different contexts ie. home and school. We often experience different parts of the same little human.
The teacher-parent relationship is what our kids are always observing. It is our responsibility as the adults to model the behaviour in ALL our relationships that we would expect from our students or children. Both parents and teachers are responsible for this. We all know, regardless of whether we are the parent or the teacher, our kids will learn more from who we are and how we act than what we teach them at school or home.
It's the little conversations
It's the little conversations that build relationships and make an impact on each student. We don't have to spend hours of time talking. It's in the small moments of checking in, asking a question, sharing understanding that makes the biggest impact on others.
You can either be right or you can be happy
In any conversation, there will be moments where you may disagree with what is being said. In these moments, you have two choices. You can either keep attempting to push your point of view to be right or you can be okay with not sharing the same opinion and being happy. Whoever the relationship is between, you are not always going to agree. So...you can choose. You can either be right or you can be happy. Because some things...are not worth being unhappy for. Teachers and parents are not always going to agree but this is where trust is required. Trust that you are working together for the greater good of the child and sometimes...you have to be okay with not knowing all the information yet.
Understanding and forgiveness
Relationships get stronger when both are willing to understand mistakes and forgive each other. We are all only human. We are all learning to navigate our way around and through different relationships, learning how others think and what they might need. Be patient. You are not perfect. You will make mistakes and so will other people. We strengthen our relationships by understanding that we all make mistakes and that it's okay to forgive each other and grow through them.
Never allow your fear or lack of understanding to be greater than your love and your desire to learn and understand someone else or the situation they are in.
Long term investment
Parents and teachers are the guides, leaders, protectors and providers for children. Building a relationship that is open and nurtured is, ultimately, going to be a long term investment. Like any good long term investment, it requires gentle nurturing and a solid foundation and ongoing support. The relationship teachers and parents require, is not built on the amount of time they spend together. It is based on the foundation they build together through understanding and communication.
Regardless of your opinion of your teacher or parents this year, your job is to create a relationship that has the biggest and most positive impact on your students.
This is a reminder to all parents and teachers regarding what happens at school and in the classroom - it is not about you! It is not about what you think should or should not happen. It is not about what you think was said or not said or should have been said or done!
Never think that you are the only person in the world who knows the little human in your care better than anyone else. We all see different elements of the same child.
It is about the little human that we have in our care and the opportunity to build relationships that provide them with the understanding that we are all here for them and not our own egos.
Until next week...have a wonderfully mindful week!
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