I grew up in the field of education. Both my parents were educators. I was grading papers, analyzing student data with and for my parents from a very tender age. I was their mini teacher and I loved that it made me feel a strong sense of responsibility. I felt like my parents, as educators, had the final say, they were respected and their advice to a parent was valued. When their students came to school, their parents had full confidence and trust that they were in ‘good hands.’ The teacher’s word was final. Pretty much whatever the teacher said “was final.” This approach, I believe allowed for a deep sense of understanding between parent and teacher regarding goals and expectations of the student/child. Teachers felt they were at liberty to teach more freely and to make decisions without being scrutinized. The relationships formed were solid and not influenced by parent bias or thoughts. I know most parents today understand and know exactly where I am coming from, despite the fact this we sometimes succumb to societal pressures to “fit in” or be apart of the “in crowd.” What good does this do? Where do we end up?
Today, in many gentrified communities teachers of color are sometimes challenged with issues and concerns that oftentimes get in the way of the flexibility of teaching without reservations. By this flexibility I mean the liberty to explore varied kinds of instruction without seeking permission first. Many teachers of color speak of the need to constantly prove themselves to parents as educators, even when their performance level is comparable to that of peers of another race. Teaching without feeling like they are always ‘being watched.” While I do value parental involvement and support, sometimes I believe that many parents allow their lack of trust to create a sense uncertainty in schools, thereby impacting the overall picture.
Your child has a great teacher who is attentive, loving, can execute a lesson effectively and engage her students with true conviction. The teacher listens to parents concerns and has great relationships with staff and other parents. Pretty much: a perfect situation of a teacher. This seems like a seemingly ideal situation in a school setting. Something most parents would ask for.
However, while these situations are very common there are many experiences where although this is the reality, “excessive parental intervention” sometimes takes precedence. The overwhelming occurrence of a barrage of questioning pedagogy and expertise has become very prominent in some school settings. To whose advantage, I am not sure, because as far as I know no party benefits from the said situation. Please understand that I value genuine questions and concerns that are not meant to demolish one’s character or to cast the blame on one particular member. If families have sincere questions and concerns, I for one welcome them with open arms. While throughout my eleven years in this profession, I can only think of a few of these unwelcoming and difficult experiences, I know of many colleagues and friends who constantly live these moments.
I am hereby asking for permission for all educators to teach without feeling restricted, without feeling like our hands are tied. Permission to be trusted and respected. Permission to be truly allowed to care and love our students without doubt from anyone. Permission to know that when they are in the classroom they are in charge of the educational future of their students. Permission to freely say to a parent: “I know that your child…” “Here is my recommendation…” or any similar line of support and be listened to. Permission to teach your child like a trained teacher. No one goes to the doctor, engineer or any other field of profession and question their craft. Give us a shot, we are open to questions, suggestions and partnerships.