Teachers can’t…


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Being the parent of a child going through GCSEs is stressful; being a teacher in charge of a GCSE course ain’t easy; combining the two? Yeah, quite a challenge! The last 2 years, in particular, have found me trying to navigate those treacherous waters that lie between a teacher-parent and their child on the exam treadmill, aiming to offer all the support, encouragement and wise words required of a parent without staining them with ‘professional’ judgements or insider knowledge that may (but occasionally may not) contradict that doled out by his teachers.
What IS the role of a teacher-parent? I suspect I’ve veered too much away from the teacher bit, boxing it up out of some kind of deference to the sacrosanct mother-son relationship, but would other parents do that? If you’re a translator or an artist or an IT bod, wouldn’t you pass on your knowledge and skills to your child? Doctors would help with science revision; curators would help with history. Why do I feel that, as a teacher, I am giving my child some kind of unfair advantage when I help him construct an essay, or guide him to use academic language? Is it unfair that he’s got a live-in personal tutor when his friends have to rely on their more limited resources? And when he gets great results, does he really get the credit for it or do his friends just shrug and say, ‘Well, what do you expect? His Mum’s a teacher’?
There lies the rub. I want my son to get all the credit for his achievements, to be seen to get good results on his own merit, but of course that pretends that all kids pass exams in a vacuum and of course that’s far from true. It’s a scary, and rarely-stated truth, but teachers can make or break a child’s success in their subject, and supportive, engaged parents can make all the difference. Flip that sentence around and that would be true, too!
No man – or woman – is an island, and at any one moment we are all playing out several different roles. I think I need to release the teacher from her box more often and share her more confidently with my son. She’s actually OK, not too much of a dragon, and I think my son might quite like her! He may even pick up a few helpful tips!

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