It has been an interesting few months as my five year old has made his way into the public school system. As a parent, it has been fascinating to watch the excitement with which he has embraced the experience, as well as the gradual distance that he is beginning to place between his “big school” life and his “daycare” life.
As a parent, I’ve entered the process with him, committing to be part of the School Council, attending school events and, most recently, being present in his Junior Kindergarten class for our first “observation” and conversation with his beloved teacher.
It’s been quite a fascinating experience, but I must admit to feeling a little bit of tension between my new reality as parent and my more familiar role as educator. Even though we’re part of an active and vibrant school community, it has been a little difficult separating what I have come to know and believe about teaching, learning and the role of the school in the development of children on the one hand, and the special interest I have in the development of my own child on the other. While I anticipated that this might occur, I’m still not sure how I will handle it.
Which hat do I don when I make my way to the school to participate in School Council meetings? Am I Mr. Hurley, the parent, or am I Stephen Hurley, the educator? To what degree do I bring my ideas and beliefs about things that matter to me in education to the table? Do I send the principal links to what I’m writing, or do I keep this part of my life to myself? Do I offer my services as educator to the school, or do I do my best to remain incognito (not that I’m a famous celebrity or anything)? Even though I’m employed in a different district, should I even be on the School Council?
There has been some fascinating discussion on this over at Paul Bennett’s site this week, and it’s that conversation that has led me to ask some basic questions about how I should be moving. The part of me that strives for integrity would say, “Act always according to your beliefs and values”. The part of me that is aware of the politics of schools and the way that some parents get labelled by teachers and administrators might say, “Proceed with some caution.”
What say you? I know that I’m not the first to encounter this tension, so I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Should I check my “educator” coat at the door? Should I go in and speak with the principal at this early stage? Should I try to walk through the next stage of life with a foot in both camps? Should this even be an issue? If you’re an educator-parent, what has been your experience?