The Parent’s Story of the Child

Your potential effectiveness as a teacher to each student will continually increase throughout the year.

Why?

Because you have the opportunity to better understand each child as the school year unfolds.  You see opportunities to differentiate across the classroom, and you wonder how to make it happen – and you strive to find ways to meet the needs of each student.

 

In short, you begin to understand each child’s story – at least the classroom version of the story.

 

But, do you know the parents’ story of the child?

 

That is the powerful backstory of each child that you may truly need to know.

 

There is one simple question that you may not yet have thought to ask the parent or parents of each student.

 

“What is the story of your child?”

 

If parents respond with a baffled expression, it certainly won’t be that they don’t know the story.  It will be because they aren’t accustomed to hearing such a question.

 

Be prepared for anything.  Instead of hearing a story about a child’s journey through school, you may hear the story of a child’s journey to be able to walk, despite medical challenges.  Instead of hearing a story about learning to read, you may hear the story of learning to cope with tragedy.  Instead of hearing of a dramatic upbringing, you may hear about a hunger to learn.  You may learn that a child deeply loves math, or science, or art, or gymnastics.  You may hear how a child is naturally gifted in ways you haven’t yet detected.

 

You may very well hear the passion of the parent:  the parent who gives and sacrifices and works and struggles so that this child’s life can be better.

 

And that alone may be one of the most important parts of the story.

 

Imagine what happens when the teacher hears that part of the story in person.

 

Imagine what happens when the parent hears a follow-up question from the teacher:  “What are your hopes and dreams for your child, and how can I help?”

 

So, here is a simple and profound challenge:  Learn the parent’s story of the child.  Find out the parents’ hopes and dreams for their son or daughter.

 

The conversation will illuminate how very important your job is because it will shine a mutual and lasting light on the child who walks into your classroom every day.

 

The opportunity is yours.  I challenge you to take it.  I challenge you to risk seeing how very important your student is to his or her parents by asking one simple question:

 

“What is the story of your child?”

 

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  1. Steve, this is a great post. It reminded me of something I had forgotten – when my girls were in elementary school, one of their teachers sent home a beginning-of-the-year parent questionnaire. The teacher wanted to know our goals and dreams for our child, how they learned best, and what was special about our child. It’s something teachers could do every year. Great challenge for the new year!

    1. Jennifer, thank you for the comment. I really think that is a great idea. Always seeking to understand the perspective of the parent is very important. I am very happy that I wrote a post that brought back memories!

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