Importance of Language in Parent-Teacher Relationships
It's unfortunate that public discourse and political causes can create ill feelings between parents and teachers. The parent-teacher relationship is so important in the education and happiness of a child, that talk of this type of environment saddens me. I feel that I have always had positive relationships with the parents of the children that I teach, so this is not a personal story. Rather, I am referring to a larger political discourse of parents and teachers blaming each other and accusing each other of not caring, rather than working with each other.
It all comes down to the words we use with each other. I recently ran across this excerpt on the Music of Language, which aptly describes the power of the words we choose:
"When we speak or write, we use the vehicles of words to carry meaning, as well as energy, from ourselves to another person or group of people. We may be speaking to our baby, our boss, or to an audience of 500 people. We may be writing a love letter, a work-related memo, or an entry in our own diary. Whatever the case, each word we speak or write has a life of its own, a vibratory signature that creates waves in the same way that a note of music creates waves. And like musical notes, our words live in communities of other words and change in relation to the words that surround them. When we are conscious of the energy behind our words, we become capable of making beautiful music in the world. If we are unconscious of the power of words, we run the risk of creating a noisy disturbance. Some of us know this instinctively, while others come to this understanding slowly. Most of us, though, speak without thinking at least some of the time, blurting out our feelings and thoughts without much regard for the words we choose to express them. When we remind ourselves that our words have an impact on the world, we may find within ourselves the desire to be more aware of our use of language."
Mutual respect and open dialogue are key in establishing a positive relationship between home and school, which ultimately extends to child. It's a delicate relationship -- not unlike any other relationship we choose to establish. The difference in this relationship is the focus. The focus is (or should be) on the child, not the adults. We each carry different pieces of the same puzzle and it's important to work together to put these pieces together to uncover the true picture of what the child needs. Teachers need to be willing to "hear" what a parent is trying to convey. Likewise, parents need to really listen to what the teacher has to say. Nobody is "right" or "wrong." We each have a different perspective which can help us see the whole child and what is best for them. It's when one party tries to force another party to see ONLY their perspective that conflict ensues and roadblocks are built.
Instead of trying to "control" others with our words, maybe we can use our words to create a peaceful relationship which can build trust and mutual respect. This is the only way we can effect change in education and in our world. Otherwise all progress is stalled with "noisy disturbance" and we are reduced to playing a control game which nobody wins -- including the child. We are all in this together. We all have a common goal -- to help a child grow and lead a happy fulfilling, passion-filled life. As adults, it is our duty to set the example and work "with" each other, not against. We can each do our own part. Hopefully, if we continue to stay on the course of mutual respect, all of the negative chatter will fall on deaf ears and go away.