Dear Teacher at The Posh Private School:
Firstly I want to say: THANK YOU for the incredible work you do! When you read this, please bear in mind that I have the utmost respect for teachers and I think you are doing the Lord’s work. But I want to ask you to think about a few important things please? Next time, when school starts, and your class is filled with beautiful little faces, sticky hands and loud voices, please remember that;
Not all children could afford to go away on holiday – please don’t make a big deal about the PLACES the children had gone to for the holidays, but instead focus on how someone made them FEEL during the festive season.
Not all children have a ‘normal’ family tree – so instead of doing the age-old ‘family tree’ routine, how about thinking about something different? There are so many scenarios – way too many to mention – that can make a child feel deeply embarrassed that their tree does not keep up with the Jones’!
Not all children have happily married parents – they may have a very happy family, but divorce, death and alienation may have changed their ‘normal’. Please don’t make a child feel that he doesn’t ‘fit’ because his mommy and daddy are divorced, or because he has two mommies, or because his daddy is not in his life. This is 2019 – family dynamics are DIFFERENT, please incorporate this in your classrooms and your schools!
Not all children’s parents can be at every school activity every time – some people actually have to work to earn a living and to keep their kids in school. If you teach at a school where the mommies from the breakfast club are still ‘networking’ until it becomes the lunch club, remember that not all pupils at your school have affluent parents. There are parents who are working two jobs to keep their child in your posh school, so please do not frown upon their absence when it’s yet another ‘English Tea’ at school, and Ted’s mom isn’t there. Again. Ted’s mom is working her butt off. Simple as that.
Not all children will tell you the truth about their family life – sometimes what is happening at home is so traumatic, they prefer not to think about it let alone tell anybody else about it. Yes, even at your exclusive school. So, don’t judge the naughty little bugger in your class so quickly, there might be a very good reason for his behaviour!
Not all children are comfortable to hug and kiss their teachers – that doesn’t mean they don’t love you the same! Maybe it’s just difficult for them to show affection and that can be for a million reasons. Children are entitled to body autonomy too, but don’t stop showing affection to that child altogether just because the child doesn’t respond to physical affection. Just keep on loving on them – they need it more than the huggers.
Not all children’s parents can afford to let their kids attend the many after school activities that are thrown at them – some parents can’t afford it and some other children just don’t want to do gymnastics. Or play rugby. Or cricket. Or netball. Gasp!
Not all children’s parents fit into your, or society’s, perfect little box – some parents are so far outside the box they’ll never get back in. And that’s ok. I promise you, a lot of times a child that is exposed to ‘different’ circumstances, has a higher EQ, much more empathy and understands not to be offensive just because someone doesn’t look/talk/live the same as they do. They also understand that sometimes the ‘norm’ is not always the only way. And it may sound weird to you, but society needs the misfits, the rebels and the alternatives – without them life would be completely predictable and very dull and monotonous (and there would be far fewer songs, poetry and inventions!) Embrace the alternatives. Embrace their children. You will be pleasantly surprised. And by the way, tattoos are not contagious!
Not all children have the same religion as you – there are so many different types of religions and spiritual beliefs out there! Not all families think it’s normal to sit around a fire and sing kumbaya at a school camp. And no matter what a child’s parents, or the child himself believe, it shouldn’t matter one bit to you! You are there to be a teacher, not a religious barometer. And if you are a Christian, you should be the first to know that the Master said not to judge.
Again, I have so much respect for your (sometimes very thankless) job. Maybe if all of us can just be a little more sensitive, a little more attentive and a bit more accommodating, this world will be a better place for our children. Which should ultimately be every adult’s goal in life..
First published on 7 December 2018 on my private Facebook wall