As a parent I find myself angered by every proposed change the government put forward regarding my child’s education. From baseline assessments to budget cuts and everything in between. It feels like these policies are being decided by people who haven’t set food in an educational establishment since their own education, and who have completely forgotten that teachers make a difference that has a huge lasting effect.
I know from speaking to teachers that they feel undervalued by the government and unaccounted for. Years of experience yet their voices are ignored.
I have two sons. Big is in year 4, and Little is in year R.
Education is more than ticks on a chart.
It is amazing to see how much they learn and develop in year R. The jolly phonics song is sang daily in our house, because Little loves it and thinks it is fun. And whilst he is learning to blend his words and write his letters, he is also learning other really important thing. Like where to put his belongings so he doesn’t loose them. At five years old he is learning how to make friends, sharing, kindness and empathy. Lessons that will continue throughout his life.
He is learning about confidence and speaking up in front of a classroom full of his peers. And he is learning to be independent, and not to leave going to the toilet until the last minute! To do his own coat up and put his shoes back on the right feet after PE (although that one still needs a lot of work!) He is learning the rules of the school, when to sit still and listen, and when he can run around and make noise.
And whilst it is important that he learns to read, and write and add up numbers. It is just as important to me that if he is upset, or if he hurts himself, his teacher will be there to give him a cuddle and make him feel better. That in my absence she nurtures him as I would. Because above everything I want my children to feel safe and happy at school.
Teachers are everyday superheroes.
All of my sons’ teachers have been brilliant. But there is one single moment that I think will always stay with me. When Big was in year 1 they had a travel bear that one child would get to bring home every Friday. Big who normally loved school would come out in tears every week because another child had been given travel bear. A life lesson in waiting your turn! It was at the same time that Big’s very best friend moved out of the area and changed schools. Big was utterly heartbroken. There were a lot of tears in our house as he tried to come to terms with his best friend leaving. Some of them may have been mine.
On the little boys last day their teacher did a special leaving party in the afternoon. I was dreading picking Big up, knowing that he was going to be inconsolable. The kids all filed out one by one looking sad. Some where crying after saying goodbye to their friend. Other parents were giving me sympathetic looks as I waited anxiously for my son.
Then he appeared. With the biggest smile on his face, shouting at me “Mummy, look! I got travel bear!” His teacher looked at me and said “I thought it might help ease the pain”. And it did. It gave him something else to focus on that weekend. It gave him something to look forward to about going back to school despite his best friend not being there. And I will be forever grateful for what she did that day.
It’s things like that, that make teachers amazing. That simple gesture is one that I will never forget.
Thank-you for all that you do.
The point of this post is that I wanted to say a big thank-you to all the teachers who do such an amazing job teaching our kids frontal adverbials, and looking out for their best interests whilst they do. Whilst the government seem to undervalue what you do, us parents don’t. We think you are pretty special.
Here are some more stories of teachers doing little things that make a big difference…
My youngest son’s teacher gave me a hug when I had my miscarriage last year and was genuinely excited for me when she found out I was pregnant again. She always asks me how I am. The fact she takes time out of her busy day to do that means so much.
My daughter stared in Reception in September and her teacher has been amazing. My daughter has some problems with her vision and wears glasses and a patch which leaves her vision sometimes restricted with her patch on. The teacher has been amazing buying extra resources to help her with phonics (flip books etc) and photo copies her book pages bigger so that she can see them better. It has helped her so much and she absolutely loves books and reading now!
My son was given a hard time at his old school due to his long hair and his love of pink. His teachers just told him to rise above it. When we moved cities, I mentioned this to his new teacher. Later that term, she read ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ with the class, where the pink crayon laments the fact no one ever draws pink dinosaurs, and used it as an opportunity to talk about how all colours are for everyone and how it’s fine to love pink whether you are a girl or a boy. She also got all the kids key-rings for Christmas and for him a pink one. All just small gestures, but it made him feel validated in his choices and gave him confidence to stick with his preferences and not give in to peer pressure.
My daughter had a fairytale day in reception and everyone dresses up for special games all day. The teachers and TA made a collage book of all the photos, tied with ribbon and gave one to each of us so we can keep the memories forever. I thought it was such a lovely idea and so thoughtful.
My middle son absolutely loves animals. During his reception year he was quite quiet but when he talked about animals his teacher said he used to light up the room. At the end of the year she was having a clear out at home and came across an animal encyclopedia. Aimed at adults it had the most beautiful photos in and she asked if she could give it to him. Of course I said yes. It is huge! Two years later he still treasures it. I think it gave him a lot more confidence knowing that she took an interest in knowing him as an individual and noticing and connecting with what he loves
My sons teacher made him his own box of musical instruments with his name on for when he started. He was really struggling and music seems to calm him down. He had it at the front of the class and he could go to it whenever he liked. Meant the world to us that he cared so much.
My son has recently been diagnosed with adhd , even before the diagnosis his teachers gave him his own table with a blanket where he can sit and concentrate on his work if the class was getting too noisy for him.
Give my little ones cwtches (welsh hugs ) when they are poorly or have felt sad about leaving me
My daughters teacher made her a special chart when she was struggling and spent ages printing out all her favourite things from home (her hatchimal, favourite teddies, dolls, etc) and really took his time to help her settle. I’ll never forget that.
My daughter is 8 and was recently diagnosed with ADHD/ASD. She’s had a few years at school where she has been completely misunderstood by her teachers. This year her teacher has been amazing, they have a great relationship and her confidence has doubled. He has put so many things into place to make sure she is comfortable, I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher.
My oldest (reception) told me today that the fairies bought them new numicon shapes for maths. I just love that they keep the magic real. There’s so much more but that made me really smile!
Last year my daughter missed her class photo because of a medical appointment. We thought we’d get back in time but the photographers finished earlier than expected. Her teacher arranged for a second (non-professional) class photo to be taken so she could be part of it. I love that photo because it reminds me of all her school does to include her.
When my youngest, Holly, had her settling in afternoon, which I was meant to be at. 30 mins before we were due to arrive I had a phone call from the head teacher to say my eldest daughter had hurt herself and I needed to come in. Holly and I arrived and it was clear I needed to take Alice to be seen my a doctor. I thought Holly would miss out on her settling in afternoon. But both the head teacher and class teacher said to leave her, they would stay with her and make sure she was ok the whole time. Holly was happy to go with them and it meant a lot that the teachers cared so much about both girls getting what they needed and I couldn’t split myself in half.
My eldest was only 6 when she lost her little brother and her teacher that year and the following year were incredibly understanding. When they were learning Somewhere Over The Rainbow and she got upset as it was a song from his funeral they changed the words just for her. It’s caring little things like that make the difference.
Do you have any stories of the little things teachers do that make a big difference? Share them in the comments.
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