In the 40 years that I have been teaching, I have seen a lot of changes in the world of education. In my earliest years in the classroom, rote learning was the primary way that knowledge was transferred from teacher to student. Rote learning relies heavily on the repetition of material for the purpose of memorizing it. This teaching technique was widely used across all disciplines. Students memorized important dates and events in history class, entire music pieces in music class, famous poems in language arts class, and math facts and equations in math class.
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In my years as an elementary school teacher and principal, I have seen first-hand how crucial the relationships are between parents and their child’s teachers. Positive parent-teacher interactions and strong communication ensure that a student will continue to grow in their social and academic skills over the course of a school year. But this type of parent-teacher rapport is something that isn’t typically established in one open house meeting at the beginning of the year or one email exchange introducing yourself. Like any other healthy relationship, teacher-parent rapport takes time and intentionality to build. There are three key behaviors that parents can engage in to build this rapport, summed up with the acronym O.N.E. These elements provide a framework for teachers and parents to come together, partnering to accomplish one unified goal in a given school year: the continued holistic growth of the student.
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“Don’t be sad.”
“You shouldn’t feel scared.”
“Stop being angry.”
“You don’t need to get your feelings hurt over it.”
“You should be so thankful.”
It’s not uncommon to hear parents addressing their children with comments or corrections involving how a child should or should not feel. This is especially true with emotions many deem “negative” such as hurt, fear, anger, and sadness. Though these admonishments may be well-intentioned, I believe they miss the mark on what human beings are supposed to do. We are, by our very nature, highly emotional beings capable of experiencing a broad range of sentiments. If children are consistently taught to ignore or squelch “bad” emotions, they will likely be unprepared for life. A healthier, more holistic approach is to empower our children emotionally by teaching them to experience and express a wide range of emotions, and help them learn to regulate their emotions when necessary.
Emotional empowerment has five primary stages. Parents can practice each of these stages with their child no matter the child’s age. These are fundamental skills that everyone needs. Developing the ability to identify, express, and regulate emotions is a life-long process, one in which there is always room for growth and improvement. As such, parents can serve as models for their own children as every member of the family seeks to grow and mature.