Let’s talk about Meet the Teacher, AKA Open House, Meet & Greet, etc. This is the event where you and your child go to the school, find the classroom, and meet the teacher. It typically happens some time in the week right before school starts, so the odds are very good you all have done this already this year. (Unless you homeschool– in which case, you probably don’t have to meet yourself.)
You show up at the school, find a parking spot, head inside, and track down the room. There are probably administrators and aides stationed along the way, bright smiles plastered on their faces, helping direct those who might need assistance. And now you’re there– inside is your little one’s teacher, the individual who will be spending hundreds upon hundreds of hours with your child this year.
Now, maybe that teacher approaches you with a warm, genuine grin. Maybe she bends down to your child and smiles up at you and is just brimming with exuberance and confidence. Perhaps her enthusiasm and joy simply abound and the whole room is aglow with her energy. You may feel an instant connection and immediately be put at ease. Maybe you look around the room and inwardly sigh with relief– oh, this is going to be an awesome year. We have hit the jackpot.
This is what happened to us this year with my daughter’s third grade teacher. It’s also what happened the two previous years with the second grade teacher both my son and older daughter had. And I won’t deny it– it feels great.
But maybe that’s not what happened for you. Maybe you met the teacher and the connection wasn’t there. Maybe you felt that she was distant or insincere. Maybe she seemed shy or detached. Perhaps you wondered if this person was really going to be able to show your little one the level of warmth and compassion you had hoped for.
Maybe “Meet the Teacher”… was a disappointment.
So what now? How do you cope with the realization that you didn’t get what you expected or hoped for? What’s the next step when you’re feeling at best ambivalent and at worst devastated?
The short answer? Don’t panic.
Let me tell you another quick story.
Last school year (as in 2013-2014), our son was in third grade. We didn’t know many of the third grade teachers, but we were anxious to meet the one he’d been assigned. Fresh off the heels of meeting C’s warm, bubbly, huggy second grade teacher, we headed in to the third grade classroom.
And there she stood.
A tall, slim, pretty brunette, she was about my age. She stood talking to a father, a tight-lipped smile on her face. We waited to introduce ourselves and, when we had an opening, did so.
She was polite, matter-of-fact, and brief.
And it threw me for a loop.
Now, it wasn’t anything awful– I realize this. I’m sure there are people who have true horror stories from their meet the teacher events, and this is totally not that.
Still, I was disappointed. My A. is a warm, affectionate, eager child. Her response to meeting him felt, well, lukewarm at best. We had just come off a year of having a wildly enthusiastic teacher and the thought of transitioning into someone with such a “meh” personality had me leery. It didn’t help that A’s two good friends were both assigned to a third grade class with one of those super-warm, exuberant types (<– that’s who C. has this year.)
Anyway, we headed home and that was that. I lived with my disappointment and tried to build up excitement in my son. I didn’t want him to feel my bummed out vibes emanating all around. I resigned myself to just getting through the year, figuring it’d be fine, if not fantastic.
That November, we had our first parent-teacher conference. She was nice, to-the-point, and obviously competent. We felt good about it, but I still missed those “warm-fuzzies” you sometimes get. Ah, well.
I volunteered that December to help with a holiday party, where they decorated wreaths, made snowman chains, and more. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I knew they needed help, so I showed up. But, admittely, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it.
Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by a super relaxed, warm smile. I looked around at happy, calm, organized children. I say organized, but, to be honest, it was kind of orderly chaos. Somehow, there was a ton going on in that room all at once, but it was all controlled. The third grade teacher I had thought detached was actually incredibly engaged and at ease. She was a pure delight that afternoon and I had the chance to get to know her better.
By the end of the school year, I would tell you all that this educator was a fantastic fit for my son. She was an amazing combination of young(ish) but very old-school– those third graders did daily grammar, learned perfect cursive, and studied geography. More than that, she was fun and funny and flexible with the children. That “cold” impression I got? Was just a reflection of her own overwhelm with the hoard of parents filling her room. With a room full of third graders? She was in her element. Surrounded by pushy, chatty, demanding moms and dads? Well, she had to put her game face on.
It could be that this will be the year that you and your child’s teacher just don’t see eye-to-eye. It may be that you’ll be unhappy with the assignment and that displeasure will last the whole year through.
But, there’s as least as good a shot that you’ll discover that, though “Meet the Teacher” was a disappointment, the teacher herself is not.