Saturday, July 6, 2013

Learning from Other Teachers

When students transition to junior high and high school and begin taking classes with teachers outside the home, Moms transition, too. No longer do we decide the curriculum or set  the expectations. We relinquish that control, so our children can learn from experts passionate about their subjects.

Initially, it seems glorious. We don’t need to plan any lessons, grade any assignments, or coerce our child to meet any deadlines. We happily place that responsibility in the lap of another.

But we soon realize that the teacher is not a clone of us. "Wait a minute," we might say, "her standard is higher than we’re used to."  Or we might think: “I expected him to be more creative.”  Or “Hey, she isn’t encouraging my son enough.” Or. Or. Or.

I’ve experienced both sides: I’ve been the mom and the teacher.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Expect a learning curve the first month or two. It takes time to adjust to a new teacher’s expectations and style. Don’t panic. It’s okay for students to experience some hiccups as they adjust.
  • When someone else is shouldering the responsibility of teaching, you can stand on the sidelines to encourage when necessary and help when asked.
  • If an expectation is unclear, encourage your student to ask questions, communicating directly with the teacher. It is not your class; it’s your child’s.
  •  When a teacher grades a paper, accept the grade. Even if it is lower than you like, it is a growing opportunity for your child.  If it needs more discussion with the teacher, allow your child to initiate the conversation.
  •  Trials are part of life. When we face difficult circumstances, we can grow. Don’t rob your child of this chance to mature by stepping in prematurely or inappropriately.
  •  Don’t expect teachers to encourage your child as you do. They are serving more kids than yours.
  •  The class may not look exactly as you want it to look. That’s okay. It’s beneficial for your child to experience something different from what he gets at home. 
  •  Don’t offer excuses for your child. It’s good for her to take responsibility for her actions and choices.
  • Trust the teacher.

If you tend to be a helicopter mom who hovers over your children or a fire fighter mom who wants to rescue them from the flames of trial, recognize your tendency. Resist writing that e-mail or making that phone call. Wait. Watch. Encourage. At the end of the class, you’ll likely have a student who has adapted to another person’s style, learning despite that person’s weaknesses, stirred by his/her strengths, and prepared for the next challenge in line.

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