I won’t shy away from saying, I hate school meetings.
Each time I visit, I am reminded of every flaw, every problem my son has.
Each time, I prepare myself, I get my gear on. I tell myself this time I won’t let myself get dragged down – but nevertheless, by the time I leave, I am soppy mess of tears and misery.
|My very own Mr. Stubborn
My boss used to say, there are no students who fail, only teachers.
I wish I could tell myself that, but I don’t. Because I know how hard it is to get through to my kid. And I understand the teachers inability to get him to do his work, to focus on writing or completing the task on hand.
My son is extremely bright, yet stubborn.
I am definitely not alone.
I am sure our classrooms are filled with kids like him, bright yet unwilling.
I am confident there are many a moms like me, who are wrung between impossible academic standards and unwilling children.
I am confident that today some mother is being told across schools, that their child is impossible to deal with, too smart, too slow, too disruptive, too self involved, too talkative, too ‘something’.
I also hope that among the hundred thousand teachers involved, some would care to make a difference, if only they knew how.
1. ACCEPT THAT IT IS OKAY.
It is okay that the work is not complete. It is okay that he is not the best at something. It is okay that she is lagging behind the rest. It is okay to be where we are today.
It is however, not okay to quit. To pass the blame. To dump the responsibility. To insult the teacher who is trying, or the parent who may not know how to. As a parent, as a teacher, the kids are OURS to help, support and love, together.
3. STOP FOCUSSING ON THE WEAKNESS.
It is easy to blame. To find fault. To figure the issues on the surface.
Try figuring the real problem, the underlying issues. Try instead to figure what may work, try a new approach, a different style. And for that it is important to accept that we too need to change our ways, ask questions and learn new methods.
4. CHANGE THE CONTEXT
We know they find it hard to write. Or pay attention. Or follow multiple instructions. What don’t we know? Are they great at something? Is it possible to use to push them up on that front? Help then find their ground, before they can work on the rest? Boost their confidence, their morale, their peer relationships so they want to get better?
5. WORK ON SIMPLE SOLUTIONS:
Some children are not able to manage their stuff. Small changes in the arrangement of desks, classroom spaces, student combinations can go a long way in classroom management. A child with the poor vocabulary seated with someone strong with language, a kid who is charitable with the child who is slow – little things, to make everyone’s life easy.
6. MAKE REASONABLE REQUESTS:
A child who finds writing difficult will not be able to complete his work if there are five subjects in the day and each period has three pages of writing. Beating them for impossible goals is pointless and unkind. However, appreciate that they managed to complete some portions or they tried in every period to do so. Understand if the first half of the day went super well, and the second is a bit of drain. Change the schedules to help when possible.
7. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP.
Connect with the child. You cannot fake “caring”. If you are going to deal with them like they are not your problem, then you are not theirs either. Instead, connect with them. If you can’t, truly you maybe in the wrong profession. But fight for them, reach out and connect and watch them solve your battles for you.
8. BE SPECIFIC
Help them become better. Show them how. Give them solutions and tips that they CAN add to their life and routine. Is it their posture? The way they sit? The way they hold their pen or keep their book? Sit properly says nothing…be specific. Even better, tell them why doing something helps them and how.
9. MEANINGUL APPRECIATION
He is so smart and intelligent is a compliment that helps my son in no way. Appreciate how he makes connections to something he read, to a real life context and he may see value in doing so. Tell him how he has started doing more in less time, maybe he’ll nudge himself to go faster. Meaningful compliments that build a certain attitude and rigour are far more valuable in building self-esteem.
10. YOU & THEM
A child needs a parent as much as they need their teachers as well as their peer group. They need to feel accepted, included and important. If you are going to humiliate them constantly for things they do not know how to change, it becomes YOU vs THEM. And that is not going to work for anyone. Let them know you ‘See’ them, you understand and you care. Half the battle is won there.
My son is my biggest challenge.
When I push him, I am forced to also see my flaws, to accept my failures, to acknowledge that I need to fix and change things about myself.
A potter takes clay and builds it to the shape he imagines for it. A parent and teacher has to work with the person in front of them.
You don’t need to break them to mould them.