A Parent’s Perspective


When I first became a teacher, I was very young and several years removed from having my own children.  As a student, I had never received a call home from a teacher and, as a novice teacher, I was intimidated to reach out to parents, worried that I would either “get a kid in trouble” or get yelled at for “picking on” a student.

I learned, eventually, to take a deep breath, and work with families in the best interest of their students.  Parents became partners with me in helping to support and understand their children and I developed strong relationships with some parents that last to this day.

It helped a lot when I became a parent myself.


My parenting journey is unusual.  My twin daughters were students at my middle school who approached me to see if they could come live with my husband and me. The very condensed version of our story is that we agreed, they came, and we eventually adopted them.  With them came a complicated history and a new role of advocacy as a first time mother.  I had teachers in my own district who were both wonderfully supportive and harshly critical.  I made plenty of mistakes, as did my girls.

But, I was genuinely trying my hardest to do the best I knew how for their development as people, and to support them to be successful in school.

I also believe that my girls’ biological parents tried their best, and gave them everything they could to help them be successful in the best way they knew how.


Fast forward several years to my biological son (child 3 of 4) and his entry into school.  Because my son was born to me, and had, what I thought to be, a much less complicated history, I figured the transition into school would be simple.  Not so much.  For a variety of reasons, my kid, who initially struggled with change, has been in 4 different elementary schools in 6 years. In each, I’ve sought to develop relationships with his teachers and been an advocate for him to get an education that would support and challenge him.

This year, he’s been in a Mandarin Chinese weekend heritage school.  I don’t speak Mandarin well and couldn’t understand most of his teacher’s orientation.  It left me in tears.  Luckily, upon approaching the teacher, she was able to give me the most important information in English, and was kind and welcoming.  I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing there most of the time. It’s incredibly hard, makes me not want to be at school, and has me struggling with shame on a weekly basis.

My experiences have left me convinced of the important of home-school communication.  As a parent, more than anything else, I want to be heard and acknowledged. I want educators to know that I’m doing the best I can, and I actually have an important and unique perspective about my children.  As an educator, I want families to understand how much I care about their students and that I’m also doing the best I can.  I want us to work as a team to support their child’s development.  As a parent and an educator, I do not expect the other side to “give in to my demands” or “make my life easier.” I understand the constraints that educators face each day and the demands that parents feel in many aspects of their lives.  I have incredible empathy for both sides.

I share all of this because I have seen and experienced the pain of being misunderstood on both sides.  I’ve also seen the possibilities of powerful teamwork in support of students.  I hope we’ll choose the latter for our students, but also, in the spirit of our shared humanity.

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