I often wonder why I hear so much negativity from parents about their children’s teachers? In equal measure, I hear teachers complaining bitterly about parents. Why all the animosity? Are teachers and parents enemies?
The parent-teacher relationship is a complicated one. Parents want to love their child’s teachers but they are confused when the teacher doesn’t treat their child the way they would like them to. They want their child to learn to be a member of a group, but not if it means that their child might not get a turn, or might get sidelined for something more pressing or urgent. I’ve seen parents very upset when their precious little one wants a hug from a teacher, but the teacher has her hands full. I actually had a parent ask to have her daughter moved to the other classroom because the teacher didn’t let her climb on her lap at the precise moment that the child wanted to.
Teachers are taught that “parents are their child’s first teacher.” They go into teaching believing that parents love their children and want what is best for them. They are tested right from the beginning when parents don’t return phone calls, or they keep forgetting to replace their child’s extra set of clothes in their cubbies. Teachers see children who are hungry, dirty, exhausted, angry, and ignored by those who are supposed to love them the most.
I suppose parents and teachers both have valid points and are both equally wrong. Yes, teachers make choices each and every day about how to manage a large group of young children while keeping each individual child’s needs in mind, and parents are often too busy to return phone calls and send their children to school without breakfast because they know that a few extra minutes of sleep will benefit everyone in the house and breakfast will be available at school. Parents and teachers succeed and fail in equal parts every day because they are both such difficult jobs with so much room for error and so much room for joy.
As a parent, I am forgiving of my children’s teachers. I know that they are human and they are doing to best job they can. As a teacher, I am forgiving of parents. I know that they are human and are doing the best job they can. Not everyone gets to walk in the shoes of another, but I have and I can honestly say that the vast majority of parents and teachers are working like crazy to raise and educate children- an impossible job by anyone’s standards. Parents and teachers aren’t enemies, they are simply misunderstood by each other.