Saturday, April 11, 2009

Whose Job is It Anyway?

I am a firm believer in teamwork between caring individuals in a child's life. I can especially attest to success in this arena as I have raised 2 wonderful kids while being on a team with my ex-husband and his wife. As a teacher, I have countless opportunities to work with wonderful parents who are willing to do whatever is necessary to help their children become responsible, respectful, engaged learners. I really appreciate those parents.

This week, one of my kindergarten colleagues was appalled when her students were discovered standing around one of their peers who had been kicked to the ground. She was shocked to hear another teacher (who had been on yard duty) report that her students were kicking him and talking about "teaching him a lesson." As a very caring and competent teacher, she was nevertheless shocked and speechless as her class entered the room after recess. Later that day she asked what I would do if I were her.

"Wow," I thought. "What would I do if this had happened with my students?" I felt the helplessness of my coworker and first became sad that kids could actually do this to each other. 5 year old children were "ganging up" and attacking another student, using the words, "Let's teach him a lesson."
I agreed with my colleague who decided to call each of the parents and inform them of the episode. The following day, one of the students came to school with a letter of apology for the student. Although it was very difficult for him to admit that he had been wrong, his dad stood by him as he apologized to the student. I heartily applaud that parent, as he had used this event as an important teachable moment for his son.

So many times, it seems, parents and teachers point fingers of responsibility about what should be taught at home and at school. It's ALL of our jobs to teach civility and kindness. And it's quite a huge job considering the fact that we live in a society where some people would rather read and be engrossed by the glamorous, "hyped up" lives of celebrities than sit down with their children and learn about their day. ( Oops.. I think I just accidentally stood on my soapbox for a moment!)

It takes all of us caring adults to join together, preparing these young ones for life's challenges. Let's consider it a shared responsibility and move to shared solutions.


Unknown said...

Joan, you are absolutely right... it really is everyones responsiblity to make sure our students learn how to be civil and kind. Great post!

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks Ed! I really hope to find ways for more collaborative partnerships with parents and other caring adults.

Deveena said...

This affirms my belief that teachers have one of the toughest jobs in existence.

Wonderful article.

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks Deveena.. I think that affirming teachers often leads to increased commitment! I know that when I feel validated, I can stay more present and do the important work needed for my students. Thanks so much for commenting.