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Informed Teachers Make Concerned Parents: The Symbiotic Relationship

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Before I became a parent, I was a different teacher. I won't place judgment on it, but I will say different.  11 years of teaching has helped me raise my 7 year old son and raising my son has helped me in the classroom.

Teaching and parenting are extremely similar.  Running a successful classroom is like raising a well-adjusted child except you are raising many at once and they aren't biologically yours, like step-children.

teaching styleHere are some of the lessons I have been able to use interchangeably at home and in the classroom:

  • Clear and transparent rules are necessary for creating healthy boundaries and good learning environments. Students and children must understand, however, why the rules are in place.
  • Consistent enforcement of rules, with the caveat of necessary flexibility in certain, "special" situations helps to set up expectations and routine. All children understand and respond to routine, even if they fight it at first.
  • Clear and sometimes negotiated consequences for "breaking rules" should also be in place once the rules are created. It makes good sense to work with children/students on what these consequences are, so better buy in and reasonable expectations.
  • No child (or person for that matter) enjoys being scolded. Try to limit shouting as much as possible. The point can easily be reached with a stern voice and appropriate facial expressions that show emotion. Screaming doesn't help. (This obviously goes to raising a hand as a parent too... big No-No)
  • Discussion of set infraction should be done in private as no child likes to feel humiliated. Wherever possible, even after a child has done something "wrong", make sure to add something positive at the end of the discussion. For example, "I understand you've made a mistake, but I believe this experience doesn't define you. You are capable of doing better." or any variation that expresses something appropriate to the discussion.  The child shouldn't believe that this action has affected your opinion of them as a person.
  • Students/Children should be treated as whole people who make mistakes and are allowed to grow from these mistakes.
  • Children/Students have valid emotions that should be appreciated and respected.  You don't have to understand them to support them.  All feelings are good, we just need to help them express them in productive ways.
  • Other parents want to be worked with as partners. As a teacher, we need to know that when we are speaking about their children, we must be honest, but delicate.  We all need to work together.
  • Teachers who are parents, need to respect the teacher who works with their own children appropriately as well. I know who my child is and if his teacher reaches out, I know that there is an issue. Don't automatically take your child's side, hear what the teacher has to say, the same way you'd want to be heard as a teacher.
  • Children learn in different way as we teach and parent in different ways and we need to be sensitive and accommodating to these needs. Allow students the space to show what they know in different ways. Ask children in what ways they want to be taught... if they don't have the words to tell you, teach them the lexicon.
  • The way a child is raised, has an impact on the way they learn, so be sensitive and respectful to a person's upbringing.
  • A child/student is his/her own person; encourage, support and respect the growth of each individual person without allowing your own beliefs and values to cloud judgment. We all need to be afforded the right to be who we are with guidance as needed.

What have you noticed about how parenting has affected your teaching or the reverse? Are you an authoritative parent? Teacher? Are you permissive in the classroom or at home? What can we do to serve the children better? Share your ideas :)

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Starr Sackstein currently works at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, N.Y., as a high-school English and journalism teacher. She is the author of Teaching Mythology Exposed: Helping Teachers Create Visionary Classroom Perspective, Blogging for Educators, Teaching Students to Self-Assess, Hacking Assessment, The Power of Questioning and Simply May . She blogs for Education Week Teacher on “Work in Progress” in addition to her personal blog StarrSackstein.com where she discusses all aspects of being a teacher. Sackstein co-moderates #sunchat and contributes to #NYedChat. In speaking engagements, Sackstein speaks about blogging, journalism education, throwing out grades and BYOD, helping people see technology doesn’t have to be feared. Follow her @MsSackstein on Twitter.
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Guest Tuesday, 25 October 2016