As a teacher relentless positivity, is something I excel at. I pride myself in seeing the good in every child, every situation, every learning opportunity. I want children (and their parents) to know I recognise everything they do and appreciate every effort they put in.
It’s something that until this week I had never really questioned.
I firmly believed that my positivity was not only welcomed, but that it was needed. I had never questioned how it felt to be on the other foot.
And then I had a conversation with a friend.
We decided immediately with our parent heads on, that relentless positivity was the last thing we wanted. Instead we both quickly admitted it was infuriating.
You see, whilst as teachers we are trained to focus on the good. As parents we want to know that others see our whole child – the struggles and challenges they face, as well as how incredible they are.
Because, when as teachers, we don’t show that we recognise this – we invalidate the experience that parent has – the experience that child has.
We make them feel inadequate, we make them feel that their experience with their child is less than ours, we negate the challenges the child faces – sometimes even to walk through our door in the morning.
It made me reflect on my own practice, on past conversations- both as a teacher and as a parent – and made me wonder how going forward I can ensure that I show parents that I value their child, but also that I truly see them.
Sugar coating isn’t necessary, it isn’t wanted.
What is important is to show children and their parents that you respect them, that you enjoy teaching them, that you recognise their successes – but also that you recognise the cost of those successes- both to the child as an individual and to the family as a whole.
In reality, I will probably struggle to be less positive.
I am by nature a glass half full person. But I will attempt to temper it, to add into that positivity that I recognise the effort an achievement took, to reflect on the fact that a good day is all the more special because it happened despite challenges.
Because the truth is as parents of children with SEND, all we really want is two things; our children’s teachers to recognise how incredible they are, and their honesty – because if we can speak truthfully we have an ally.