I just want to say at the onset that I have been absolutely dazzled by most of my children’s teachers over the years. I know I am in the majority when I say that it is a job I know I couldn’t do and my kids have been quite fortunate to have some really positive school experiences and teacher-student relationships. But…there have been a few personality conflicts and chemistry that just didn’t gel. Imagine three kids over nearly fifteen years and I think it’s only fair to expect that there might be a teacher or two that I would have rather not had to interact with–unfortunately, these were usually the teachers I did have to deal with on a more often than typical basis (or at least it felt that way)…
When our kids are involved it can be tough to stay neutral, professional or polite–but that’s just what needs to happen. I finally learned to think of the teachers I had issues with like co-workers. We often have to work with people we’re not too fond of–at least once in a while. So, in my mind, I decided I would think of the teacher as a co-worker on a project–someone I had to work with for a short time and then move on. I think that’s one of the great lessons of school for kids: everything is temporary. It’s not like they will be in the same classroom, with the same teacher and the same students forever (well, not usually)–so it’s all about getting through until the end of the year.
Of course, I also tried to ask myself why–why was I having a problem with this particular person? Was it me? Was it the dynamic of the class? A philosophical incompatibility? Did he or she remind me of someone with whom I’d had a yucky history? A little self-awareness can not only help alleviate the tension, but it can also consume some of that time while you’re waiting for the school year to end. As long as my kids were continuing along their educational path and things seemed productive and purposeful, I had to get a grip.
Above all, I worked painfully hard to keep my own bias from slopping over on to my children. If there were conflicts or issues, I worked to show them how grown-ups deal with things head-on respectfully and focus on mutual goals instead of personality conflicts. I wish I could say I was 100% perfect (I’m absolutely certain I wasn’t–my kids call it “that fakey Mom’s-overly-polite-because-she-doesn’t-like-you voice” but, darn it! I was polite and respectful.) In terms of the parenting opportunity–the lesson, after all, is not that we all like every single person we have to work with in life, nor do we approve, agree, or adore everyone–the lesson is that we foster appreciation and learn to be patient, respectful and tolerant and find away to get along and try to get from getting bogged down in the personal chemistry (or lack of chemistry.)