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The Benefit of Teacher Friends

Because I am a teacher, I know lots of teachers and count many as friends. Although I cherish all of my friends of various professions equally, there are unique and awesome qualities in my teaching friends that I really appreciate - their expertise and knowledge of kids, and their ability to give me professional (and objective) feedback concerning my own tot.

Whereas most friends only have the frame of reference of their own kids (or no reference at all), teacher friends have had the experience of working with and educating hundreds of kids, usually in 8-hour blocks of time every day over the course of a year at a time. These are specialists in pedagogy, well-versed in human behaviour and experts on the science of child development. Though they may not know everything there is to know about about kids of all ages, they do know a great deal about kids at a specific age. I, for example, know a lot about 9-10 year olds and 13-15 year olds. My "K" friends are experts in kindermunchkins, and my high school teacher friends are in the know about budding adults and older adolescents. All of us share the common understanding of how kids learn, what works and doesn't work to build rapport and relationship with them, and how to spot areas and behaviours that should be of note and concern.

Sometimes, even though I've got several years of teaching under my belt (not to mention a degree in psychology and one in education), I still have blinders on when dealing with my own child. I mean, I may know what "best practice" means and I may know how learning happens, but I am so close to Little L and so partial to her that I cannot assess her objectively, nor recognize when behaviours might be out of the ordinary or concerning.  To me, she is perfect and brilliant and awesome in all ways, even though the rational part of my brain knows full well that she is probably just a normal, slightly-above-average kid with some advanced verbal ability ;)

I see it in other parents, too. There are folks out there who are so convinced that their children are geniuses that they miss the weird social quirks that might qualify their kids for placement on the autistic spectrum; in their delusion, they only see the achievements as "proof" of giftedness, and not the other signs that are indicators of something amiss. Others see no wrong in their littles, indulging bad habits and practices that will prove to be a disservice to their children once they reach school age. Some mommies and daddies are so sensitive to every little antic and quirk of their progeny that they end up being paranoid that something is very horribly wrong with them, when in actuality their kids are just going through a phase of development that sometimes brings out the crazy. 

Teacher friends are great at grounding me. They help me see when a behaviour I am deeming to be weird or odd is in fact completely normal for that age group. They offer helpful feedback on how to build social skills in my rules-oriented, anxious toddler. They recognize Little L's need for space and comfort, and know how to respond accordingly. They remind me when my little "genius" is simply being average, and also give me feedback when Little L is performing far above her same-age peers. My teacher friends are important villagers that help me raise my child better.

And I love them for that.

If you have a teacher friend, please give them some extra love today, especially if your teacher friend works and must now picket in BC. Listen to them, and learn from them - they are professionals who know kid, and their feedback is invaluable. And if you don't have many teacher friends, try to find some! Living in a bubble does such a disservice to you and your kids. 


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