The Parent-Teacher Contract
I wrote this post on May 22, 2016
By traditional standards I'm a mature parent, or you might say "a late bloomer." When my dad turned 40, I was in grade 6. I am 41 and my oldest daughter will start kindergarten in September. So I had my kids a little later, which gave me the opportunity to learn a whole lot before becoming a parent. I had 10 years of learning with other people's children as a teacher, coach, and counsellor. I am very grateful for all of those opportunities to learn!
This September my oldest, Arely, will start school and there's a gigantic unspoken contract that is being made between us as parents and the school. Even though I'm in my 16th year as an educator, it is only now that I'm realizing the gravity of that contract between parents and school - on the eve of our oldest beginning her formal education. If I were to write a letter to Arely's school with my wishes for her through the next few years, It would go something like this:
Arely is a funny, loving, creative and curious child. She loves to explore, loves to run in the trees and she loves music. Like her dad she also loves Star Wars and superheroes. She's a great big sister to Addy, and to our family dog, Molly. We love her dearly and hope each day at school is filled with wonderful learning opportunities, chances to make new friends, and lots of time for her to grow as a person. We pray that she comes face-to-face with obstacles and challenges and the staff at the school help her persevere through these difficulties. Like her mom, Arely loves rules and is a keen observer of others behaviours. She often prefers to watch first before jumping right into something. Our biggest wish for our oldest child is that school nourishes her passion for learning and pushes her to become the best Arely she can be. Help her remember to be respectful of her fellow classmates and to help them out when she can. Most importantly, help her to grow in her relationship with God.
When I read that letter above and think back to my teacher role in the schools I have worked, I am overwhelmed with the feeling of responsibility for the countless students I have taught over the years. For every child that has been in my classroom, there has been similar contracts that accompanied them. And I can recall numerous times when I have lived up to my end of the contract or the expectations from parents. But there were also times that I was impatient, sarcastic, and unfocused. There have been times that I've been tired, disinterested, or unprepared. I know I have worked really hard in my career and I've learned so much, and I also know I can always do better. And as I think more about this parent-school contract I am making for Arely, I'm committed to being even better next year at school. Teaching your own child is a important job, teaching someone else's job is equally important.
The last thing I want to say is thank you! Thank you to all the parents who trusted me with their child in my class or in my school, on on my basketball team, or to work with me as a counsellor. It has been an honour and a privilege to have had the opportunity to provide your child with learning opportunities, to celebrate their success, to help them persevere through difficulties and to help them stay passionate about what they love to learn. Sending your child to a school is a big decision, and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to work with your child. I look forward to continuing my journey as a Catholic educator with new student's and new families, and I hope that I am able to meet the expectations of all the unspoken parent-school contracts.
Teacher, husband, father, counsellor, friend, principal and writer.