Today I had a rare and delightful experience... being able to kick back and visit with my cooperating teacher while the students were at P.E.! We discussed classroom management issues, talked about lesson plan ideas, and shared cute and funny stories about some of the students. Our conversation took a more serious note with the topic of "uninvolved" parents. She mentioned that one particular student's parents had not been in the classroom or even been in contact with her since the very beginning of the school year. No replies to notes sent home, no parent-teacher conferences, no communication whatsoever. At first, I was annoyed with the thought of how this inconsiderate behavior would make it difficult for the teacher. But my perspective and sympathy shifted from teacher to student when she commented, "Yeah, way to show your child you care about them, huh?"
What message does that send a child, when they draw a picture and leave a note for their parents on Open House day, and then the parents never go and miss that gift? Or when they're in a play at school, or have a special presentation, or a game for a sports team, and no one is there to see them and cheer them on?
I began to understand why this particular child is always seeking attention and seems so sensitive and "needy"... she's insecure. My feelings of frustration and annoyance at the parents turned to pity for the student. Every child needs and seeks encouragement and approval from those they love or look up to. Love is a basic human need. I began to understand how much of a void is left when they don't see it expressed. This really pulled on my heart strings! Knowing where this child is coming from sort of automatically increased my patience for her attention-seeking. More than anything, it reminded me of the critical role and incredible potential a teacher has, and it reinforced my determination to a make a difference in my students' lives. I can't be their parent, but as a teacher, I can show them that I sincerely care about them and their future. This is hope and desire for making a difference is the very core of why I want to teach.