Strictly speaking this isn’t my first post that demonstrates competency in one of the New Zealand Registered Teacher Criteria. However since I’ve finally got my project under way, let’s get this RTC party started.
New Zealand Registered Teacher Criteria 1.i
Registered teachers engage in ethical, respectful, positive and collaborative professional relationships with whānau and other carers of ākonga.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Since school has started, the passage of time seems to have picked up pace. I can’t believe that we are already a fifth of the way through the first term. How did that happen?
The highlight of my week was my school’s community get together. During my last two weeks at school I’ve been astonished with how supportive the community is of their children. I was surprised by how many parents showed up on the first day of school to help their children transition into a new school and was amazed by how many parents took the time to come to visit our classroom and find out more about their children’s education.
Although teacher education stress the importance of building those relationships and give student teachers a lot of tips about to go about how to going to build relationships, the experience I drew on came not from books but from spending time as a stepmum in previous life and watching my stepdaughter start school. School was this place I didn’t know much about and I often worried about her getting bullied or slipping through the day unnoticed in a school where she was one of hundreds of kids. As a result, I’ve always been mindful that classroom teachers can spend more time with children than their parents do. Particularly in the case of the younger children whose families don’t live together.
In all my previous teaching experience I have always lived within less than 1km of the school. I often saw my students and their families at the supermarket, on the bus and walking down the street. Living close by gave me a context. I knew the kids weren’t just kids in my class but people with lives and families. By the same token the families in my community knew me because the saw me around town at the supermarket or catching the bust. Now that I live some distance from the school, I can see how easy it is to think of my kids just as students in my class rather than people with their own lives and interests.
Meeting my students’ family underscored again a huge amount of responsibility and trust the parents of the children in my class place on me to do the best I can for their kids. When these kids are in the classroom it’s up to me to not just educate them but to care, to give a damn, to not pass the puke.
So what have I been doing in the last few weeks?
I’ve set up our class blog which amongst other things is a space to let parents know not only what is going on in the classroom but also as a space for reminders about upcoming trips and due dates for home learning tasks.
I try to have a fast turnaround on parent emails. However because online communication is something that is permanent and without the context of body language and tone of voice, there is a risk of causing offence or unwittingly escalating sensitive situations with poorly-worded responses. As a result, when I get an email from a parent that I’m unsure about I’ve asked my tutor teacher or syndicate leader for help drafting a response before hitting send.
The other aspect I’ve been thinking about is that of time. Having made a few last-minute cakes for the school fair in my time I know that parents are no different to the rest of us in that they are working long hours. As a result, I need to be mindful of the demands I place on students and their families in the hours outside of school.
More than anything this week has reminded me that a great deal of my success as an educator wouldn’t be possible without a highly supportive parent community. My work as a teacher will always stand on the shoulders of giants; my students’ families.