During a recent conversation, someone apologetically told me, “I’m just a homeschool parent.” The conversation had been about best practices for students and this parent was seeking insight into additional steps she could take at home to support student learning. Without missing a beat, I replied, “No, you are a homeschool teacher” and we discussed strategies for a few more minutes.
Thinking back on that encounter later in the day, it struck me that in order for our students to be successful network-wide, the story we tell ourselves about who we are in their educational narrative needs to change. Over the past twenty years in education, I have heard teachers talk about what should be happening at home as frequently as I have heard parents speak about the school’s responsibilities. I believe the mantra of “It’s not my place” stands in the way of those conversations we all need to have to ensure our students are successful. On any given day as parents, teachers, employers, employees and community members, we find ourselves in situations that require us to do things that aren’t really our “place”.
I spent months at a kitchen table with my son, watching YouTube videos to help support him in math. My level of frustration at him coming home not understanding the concepts was huge! I felt that it was most certainly not my place to teach him math. I had spent the entire day in a classroom instructing middle schoolers and I wanted a nice cup of tea and a few minutes to myself. Instead, I did what you all do, each and every day. I refocused my energy, became a teacher at home, and learned a thing or two about the quadratic formula in the process.
The point here is that we are all responsible for the children in our care - as parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, directors and school boards. I could have taken my frustration out on the math teacher for not doing her job. She could have taken my son to task for not doing his by taking better notes in class or asking her for help. We could have all spent a lot of needless time, pointing fingers and blame-shifting instead of working together to find a solution. Would this have made math easier for my son? No.
I’d like to relive that conversation with the parent I wrote about earlier because my heart was so full of gratitude for all the effort parents make at home to support what we do each day. I simply could not find the words to tell her then. Homeschool parents are no different than charter school parents, who are no different than traditional public school parents. We all want happy, healthy, educated children who grow up in a safe world. As an unabashed fan of John Hughes 80’s movies, I am reminded of the letter at the end of The Breakfast Club. I’d like to think if Brian Johnson were writing this blog, he would say, “But what we found out is that each one of us is a parent…..and a teacher…..and an administrator….a life-long learner…..and a member of the PSAS family.” So thank you for all of the passion and commitment you bring and for letting us be a part of your family!