I’ve really been enjoying my time these past couple of weeks. It’s been nice to “get away from it all” and just take some much-needed time to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate. I had some lofty plans on getting caught up with work (are you *ever* really caught up?). While I did get a few things done for work, instead, I created some meaningful, long-lasting traditions and memories with those closest to me: my family. What can be more important than that?
I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon/evening with my two eldest children – each separately – one-on-one time! What a treat! They got to pick whatever they wanted to do and I got to be their “date” and chauffeur. It was my pleasure.
My daughter wanted to go to the mall Boxing Day shopping (really, it was HER idea and I didn’t even buy much). She bought a few things that she has been pining for from her favourite girly store. We also spent a lot of time in the bookstore. Not only did she buy some books for herself, but she also wanted to buy some books for her two brothers. Then, we went for dinner, went to buy her brother a birthday gift, and then did some grocery shopping. Every minute was awesome.
My eldest son and I also had one-on-one time together. For our “date”, we went to his last Speech Therapy session (so proud of him), for dinner, a movie, and then to the bookstore (where he also wanted to pick out books for his two siblings). I made a one-minute video documenting our time together. As you will see, we had a great time together.
I made a similar video when my daughter and I went out for dinner together in October:
You can see just by looking at these two videos just how different my two eldest children are from each other. My third child, my two-year-old son, is even more different from his two siblings (and has been much more challenging). Each of my children have their own strengths, sensitivities, needs, wants, challenges, and areas they are working to improve. They are all sweet in their own ways. They each challenge me in different ways at different times. Sometimes, something that bothers one of my children at one moment, won’t bother the same child at a different moment. At times, it is difficult to guess what each of their reactions will be. At times, it is a struggle to meet all their needs and address the concerns that arise.
These are my children. These are children I spend time with every single day. These are children I have sung goodnight songs to each and every night of their lives. These are children I have snuggled with when they are sick. I go to each one of them regularly through the night. I lose sleep for these children. I know their favourite foods, favourite toys, favourite books, favourite cartoons, favourite movies, passions and favourite places to go. I know how they like to be held when they are not feeling well. I know how to change our nightly songs to make each of them feel special. These are children that I have spent a great deal of time with, whom I know really well.
It makes me ponder though, if it is so difficult at times to figure out my own three kids, whom I know so well, how difficult it is for a teacher who has 20+ students to figure out. Each of these 20+ children have their own unique personalities, needs, wants, strengths, challenges, and gifts. These are children whom the teacher doesn’t have the pleasure of truly knowing and loving the same way that a parent does. So, if a parent has a difficult time figuring things out, how challenging it is for a teacher!
This is why it is so important for teachers (and administrators) to work with parents in the education process. We can not do it without the parents. They are the ones who know their children the best. They know strategies that may work with their child that will likely be helpful to the school. The school, in turn, will also be able to provide some strategies or suggestions for what works at school that might also work at home. It is a two-way street.
I am currently reading, Calm, Alert, and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation by Stuart Shanker. This is a practical book that marries research with practical suggestions and strategies for in the classroom (which I will talk more about in future posts). Importantly, Shanker demonstrates the importance of engaging parents in the process of our work with our students. In every chapter of his book, he includes practical suggestions in the Working With Parents section. Neither of us (school or parent) can educate our children without the other.
It is so important that educators take time to get to know their students the best they can. You can not educate a child unless you make that personal connection with that child. I have blogged about this here, here, here, and here. It is not easy. Some children are easier to get to know than others. Some children are easier to make a connection with. Some children you are going to understand much easier. Those connections are the easy ones though. The other, more difficult connections, are even more important to develop. This is also where parents can be a great support.
I want to thank my own children for making me so complete, yet so imperfect, at the same time. I am so very fortunate to have the opportunity to be your mom!
As a teacher, how are you getting to know your many different students? How are you treating them like the individuals they are? How are you engaging their parents?
As a parent, how are you engaging your child(ren)’s teacher(s)? How are you passing along useful, much-needed, information about your child(ren)?
As an administrator, how are you assisting your staff in this area and how are you supporting and engaging the parents of your students (if we think it is difficult for teachers, it is even more difficult for administrators because you need to know so many more students and their families)?