Trust Story 1 (Parent-Teacher)
The first term of the school year recently finished and my teaching partner and I, as required by the school administration, offered the parents of children in our class the opportunity to have a personal interview with us about their child’s progress.
These are the same parents we gave an information session for five short weeks earlier. That was a somewhat different format. Although we tried to make it as informal as possible, inevitably it consisted of us giving information about the year ahead and them listening and asking questions. I remember thinking that they were a tough audience – notepads at the ready, some difficult questions and their responses to our feeble attempts at jokes were hardly encouraging. One father in particular did not crack a smile the whole hour.
Needless to say we weren’t looking forward to our interview with him but it turned out to be a pleasant chat with good humour on both sides and this was the case for all of the interviews. We had to say a few things that parents probably didn’t want to hear and a few parents raised issues with us that we are not quite sure how to deal with but on the whole the parents were open, supportive and collaborative. One shed tears, one told us about the worst period of her life and how it had affected her son, another about her experiences growing up and why she would not subject her son to the same pressures she faced.
What was the difference other than five weeks? Well, I think the difference was the five weeks – five weeks in which they had learned to trust us and learned that their children trust us. Two different mothers, after we had described some aspect of their child which we had observed, said, “Ah, then you do have the real (insert name of child)”.
This is not to say that we are super teachers or that we will have no problems with trust relationships throughout the year. Things will come up that strengthen and weaken the parents’ and children’s trust in us and our trust in them. Trust is dynamic and changeable but it has to be the foundation of any classroom.