What Parents want Teachers to Know: 10. Modelling

Modelling: A lot of this comes down to modelling: what teachers do will tell children what adults do and how therefore, life works and what they should do; children will watch how teachers treat other children, each other and parents. Mostly they will see interactions between teachers and children and what they learn may stink.

A child may be singled out for scorn, inadvertently; that sets the child up as a target of scorn by other children.

A child might be excluded from an activity in a travesty of discipline: here’s a target for playground exclusion.

A teacher may disregard a child’s earnest complaint about another child: that models the behaviour ‘your concerns aren’t important’ to the child, and ‘the teacher won’t do anything’ to whomever is perpetrating: the seeds of bullying sown in a few distracted moments!

What Parents want Teachers to Know: 9. Communication #2

Communication #2: The teacher is the power, the authority and the point of reference for children at school. I think teachers know that. So do children, because children come to teachers for assistance, clarification, and by way of learning to develop judgement. So children ending up ‘dobbing’ from time to time, and for a whole range of reasons: to be petty tyrants, to ‘get someone in trouble’ and to defend the rules they comply with, but others don’t. So they simply want to see justice done in a uniform, equitable and disinterested manner.

That’s fair, and what’s wrong with it? Nothing, of course, until teachers apply the apparently random filter of ‘dobbing’. Ah, you find out as a child, some reports of wrong doing are themselves wrong. So now a child, rather than err on the side of caution and provide opportunities for teachers to help them develop judgement, will probably err on the side of self-preservation and reduce their contact with the teacher to below a safe threshold.

Let me see, will I risk telling the teacher on duty that some children are trying to erect a flag on the assembly hall roof, or will that be dobbing, after all, they’re not hurting me?


What Parents want Teachers to Know: 8. Irony

Irony: How often teachers must forget Piaget’s work (and I know other research has extended his work, but, fair go!), and this might only be a small issue, but if we stamp out sparks we prevent fires: one teacher announced to the class, on about day one of the year: a class of 6 and 7 years olds, that he was ‘the meanie’. Well, tell that to a bunch of adults and they’d either detect the irony (if there was any), ignore it, plot their counter-attacks, or refuse to shout beers that afternoon. Tell a bunch of infants school children, and they’ll believe it!

So we had to explain to our child that ‘he probably didn’t mean it’, but that did not convince and we had to re-coax interest in school which had, until then, been exuberant. Of course, the educational process has elements that dull down exuberance (some of them are listed here), but that’s incentive to turn them around, not give in!