When You Find Out Your Child's Teacher...

Monday, July 30, 2018
Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve scampering down a hot driveway in the August sun to our mailbox, anxious to see if my teacher assignment had arrived.  When it did, I’d rush in the house, hands shaking, and open the letter, facing my fate for that school year.  I’d then share the news with my mom and she’d say something encouraging before I made frantic phone calls to my friends to find out the content of their letters.

So many things have changed, but some schools still handle teacher assignments this way. Others send emails, post teacher assignments on the wall at Back to School Night or maybe even inform families of teacher assignments for the next year when the previous school year is done. However the news is handled, one thing hasn’t changed: it’s big news. 

How we as adults handle this news is important. Children’s feelings are impacted by adult behaviors—more than we often take into account. When I was growing up, I guarantee you that my mom had an opinion about which teacher she’d like me to have most years. However, I don’t remember ever being aware of that. She’d smile, and find something positive to say (no matter what).  Never once did she call the school and complain, talk negatively to other parents about my assignment, or show an ounce of disappointment on her face. Looking back, I’m sure she was less than thrilled at what that letter said at times. But I never knew it.

Every single first day of school, I was excited. I loved school, no matter who my teacher was. Of course, some teachers I loved more than others, and I’m sure my mom felt the same way.  But she gave every one of them the benefit of the doubt, so I learned to do the same. And in doing so, I learned how to function and even thrive with various teaching styles and personalities. Each year of my elementary school experience was different, but every teacher I had taught me academics and, more importantly, something new about myself. 

When you find out your child’s teacher, know this: no one does this job because it’s easy. They do it because they love teaching and they love children—and that means they love your child. Every teacher in your child’s school will not only teach your child academics but they’ll also help your child grow as a person, and isn’t that what the school experience is all about? So many times I’ve "talked up" other teachers to parents who aren’t so sure about their child's assignment.  Every single teacher has something positive to offer! What if parents encouraged each other the same way?

When you find out your child’s teacher, consider this: what’s best for your child isn’t always having the “most popular” teacher or the teacher your family already knows. Sometimes your child grows the most by having a teacher completely different than the familiar. My kindergarten teacher was a smart, sweet black lady named Mrs. Anderson. My most vivid memory of her involves sitting on a carpet and singing “Bill Grogan’s Goat” while she played the accordion. She was nothing like my mom and I doubt that my parents knew a thing about her before they received that letter.  But that was fine and she was wonderful!

When you find out your child’s teacher, remember this: time flies. Your child will experience 6,570 days of life before reaching adulthood, and only 180 days will be spent with this year’s teacher, whether it was the one you’d been hoping for or the one you hadn’t. Capitalize on these teachable, impressionable moments for your child, and make sure they’re excited about that first day of school. Think about the life lessons involved with this piece of news, even if it isn't your first choice. And if it is your first choice, awesome! But it won’t be every year and that is okay. 

I’ll repost each year to remind you. 

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