Why I’m Choosing to Form a Partnership With My Child’s Teachers
As I sit here and wonder how the summer could have possibly flown by so quickly, I begin to anxiously anticipate the upcoming school year and what is in store for my 3 children- Levi (8 ½ ), Sawyer (6), and Alexa (3). For the first time ever, they will be in 3 different places, with 3 different principals/directors, 3 different bus/driving routes, and 3 different start and end times. As I think about how I am going to possibly manage their schedules, I also think about who will be looking out for them when I am not there. While in the past, I have always thought that it is the teacher that is responsible for making or breaking my child’s experience at school, I now ask myself, “What role do I play in helping my child reach their fullest potential, even when I am not physically present?”
I am very clear that my husband and I are the experts of our children, as we know their utmost fears, their deepest passions, their behavior when they feel safe and when they don’t, as well as their strengths and challenges. However, I think that it is important to model for my children that I value the expertise of their teachers- as they see and interact with my child in a completely different situation- the group environment. We have so much to learn from each other. How does my child behave when he or she is being given instruction and direction from another adult? How does he or she navigate peer relationships? How well does my child maintain focus in a more stimulating environment? Are they comfortable advocating for themselves? Where are they excelling? Where do they need additional guidance and support?
With 3 children and a full time job, I have realized I cannot raise kind and competent children alone. I have learned that it takes a village. Knowing that, I would like to formally extend an offer to my children’s teachers that I will partner with them as best I can. The Hebrew word “b’rit” means “covenant.” A covenantal relationship enables us to partner with others in pursuit of a shared vision, to grow and to communicate with honesty. I enter into this b’rit with my children’s teachers with admiration for the countless hours you will put in to creating a positive social and learning environment for my children. I enter into this b’rit with gratitude for taking on this shared challenge of shaping our future. I enter into this b’rit hopeful that together we will celebrate my children’s accomplishments, because you are equally as responsible for helping to shape them.
I will make myself available and be open to build a relationship that is based on mutual respect and understanding. I will get to know you, and in turn, I hope that you will truly take the time to get to know me and my child. Together we will establish and share goals that have my child’s best interest at heart. Together we will take on the difficult tasks of fostering my children’s critical thinking skills, building their autonomy and self-esteem, supporting them as they take risks, and encouraging them to wonder.
And if we should disagree, I ask that we problem solve together. That we not place blame for any issues that arise, nor should we pass judgment. I ask that we work together to resolve the issue for my child’s sake. I ask that we have mutual respect and understanding of my role as advocate for my child, and that you support me and guide me in that process.
Wishing you all a wonderful school year ahead. May you, too, find a way to partner with your child’s teachers in the hopes that multiple hearts and minds collaborating together will help our children feel even more respected, loved, and confident than they already do!
by Rachel Schwartz, LSW,
JCC Chicago Early Childhood Program and Social Services Manager