A family I know faces a significant health challenge with their daughter. This typically strong student is underperforming at school on account of her health. Her grades have suffered, adding to the stress for this family in an already tough situation.
Recognizing the impact this illness has had on the girl’s school performance, her mother made an appointment to see her daughter’s school counselor and also requested that her teachers attend if possible.
When the meeting began, the mother thanked the personnel for their time and interest. She recalled the great things she’s seen them doing with students and acknowledged that this meeting was one more demand on their already-packed day.
She then described the health challenge their daughter was facing and asked for their help in figuring out how to support her daughter’s school work during this struggle to regain her health.
Much to the mom’s relief, the staff was instantly engaged. They were glad to understand why this student was underperforming, and they indicated their desire to help.
From this point, a rich brainstorming session ensued, where several people—mom included—offered ideas to support the girl’s academic work during this time when her health will be the first priority. They volunteered to help her in a variety of ways. Where before this mom had been worried, she now felt as though she had the resources of a whole team committed to her daughter’s health and success.
This story illustrated for me the creative possibilities that abound when parents and teachers work together on behalf of children. For too long, the rumor has persisted in teachers’ lounges that “parents don’t care about their kids.” Another dirty rumor continues in conversations between parents that “teachers don’t care about kids.”
Neither of these negative assumptions is true. Even if we don’t see their concern in our limited knowledge about them, in the hearts of both parents and teachers there beats a passionate concern for kids. Parents want to do well by their children, and teachers become teachers because they want to help them succeed as well.
Sometimes a conversation is all it takes for parents and teachers to discover their mutual concern for a child and to plan together to make a difference.