What if my child’s teacher doesn’t believe in him?

Question from Facebook following the blog post: “Test results show your child has a learning disability”: 

My knee-jerk reaction is to be defensive (fear)! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! My favorite message in your free video series is Part 2. This is so powerful. The responsibility I feel for my kids easily leads to fear as I want to exert control over my child’s experience… and others’ impressions. What if I’m afraid it isn’t enough to share my perspective of possibility with those who support my child? In the test results example (read January blog here), how long must I wait for someone else to look upon and interact with my child from a perspective of promise/possibility?

Don’t wait a second! YOU can look at yourself and your child and with promise and possibility right now. Okay, I know you get that, but I had to put it in there.  Our biggest work is first how we see ourselves and our lives and then, how we experience and perceive our children.

What I believe you are referring to in your question is something like this… Your child exhibits certain learning differences or behaviors (i.e. fidgety, high energy, scattered, distracted, etc.) that can be challenging for teachers who have 24 other children for whom they are responsible.

Sometimes, for various reasons, teachers may make a snap judgment about a child at the beginning of the school year and then put that child in a box for the remainder of their time together.  Or, as the year goes on, the child and teacher seem to be butting heads.  Another possibility is that the child is exhibiting poor performance in school and the teacher is regularly sharing the difficulties to the point that it seems he or she only sees the negative points about the child.

Regardless, it can be extremely frustrating as a parent when you feel like your child’s teacher is the enemy. My suggestion is to fully feel what has come up for you.  Maybe there is some anger, sadness, or resentment (all forms of fear). Observe yourself and take a mental note as to what specific feelings are there regarding your child’s teacher.  Then, realize that on some level, you are choosing this reaction, whether consciously or unconsciously.  Ultimately, the teacher may be bringing up a particular pattern for you.  Is he/she overbearing like your mom or a nay-sayer like your sister? Do you feel helpless and out of control like another time in your past?  What pattern is replaying?  What role is the teacher playing in your life? In your child’s life?

Following is an excerpt from my book.  Here I share a story about how I took responsibility for how I was seeing a child (and then his teacher) and the impact it made on all involved.

As I entered the classroom of a kindergarten child with whom I was working, I immediately saw that he was crying at his desk as he was attempting to copy sentences from the board. I knew that he was stressed because of the heavy demand on his eyes and hands to do something that he was not yet developmentally ready for. The more I thought about it, the further into the “story” I went. I moved into “rescue” mode and we went to my office for our therapy session rather than my working with him in his classroom.

We spent time playing and completing games to help with his eye-hand coordination that placed limited demands on him. I felt totally triggered that he was being forced to do this work. His body and brain were not where they needed to be to do this higher level task. To add to the story, I started to blame the system as a whole and all of the expectations that were placed on these little ones at younger and younger ages.

I felt sad and helpless knowing that I had to return him to a setting in which he was not prepared to do what was being asked. That evening, it hit me. I was perceiving this child from a place of fear and lack—delving deep into the victim/villain duality. As soon as I realized this, I knew what to do.

I sat and consciously observed of all of my beliefs that accompanied this scenario and this child. One by one, I let them go. I then asked Infinite Love to show me the Truth of this kiddo. What was possible if I simply chose to believe in him? I experienced a shift in perception, a shift in how I observed this child. In that one moment, I knew that deep within, he already had everything he needed in order to easily and legibly copy from the board. I was able to tap into the field of possibility and see that this kiddo whole and complete just as he was.

The next time I was scheduled to work with him, I entered the room only to find him easily and accurately copying from the board. It brought tears to my eyes. I was filled with gratitude. I spoke to the teacher about how wonderfully he appeared to be doing. She said, “Yeah, but now he is having trouble with…” and listed multiple other challenges he was having. I felt so bummed out. Here was a major shift in ability over a two-week time period and she was not willing to celebrate it even for a moment.

I feel strongly that, to reach their optimal potential, all children need a nurturing, supportive environment.  The teacher is the person who has the most influence, not only on the classroom environment, but also on each child. I again felt helpless that this teacher, who spends so much time with this child, was focusing only on what he couldn’t do.

In a moment of grace, I realized that I was now observing the teacher from a fear-based viewpoint. I was so concerned about the student that I went directly back to seeing the victim/villain pattern. I focused my attention on changing how it was I was observing the teacher.

I used a similar process as I had with the child and felt gifted with a new view of this teacher. She too was and is a unique expression of Infinite Love.  Over the course of the year, we got closer and closer and came to a place of mutual respect. To this day, I think of her fondly.

I can’t express how powerful it is to be mindful of your own thoughts, feelings and emotions. It’s not easy to do this kind of work. However, I do feel that it will be beneficial for you, your child and his/her teacher. 

When we commit to seeing others with eyes of love, it is difficult for them not to respond with love.

If, however, you have come to a place of complete peace when thinking about the teacher, coach, or others in your child’s life and you still feel in your heart that something needs to change, it may be time to take specific action.  Here are some possible avenues:

  1. Meet with the teacher and connect from a heart-centered place. Really hear his/her concerns and commit to seeing the teacher from a place of love and compassion.  Offer a different perspective on your child and ask if he/she would be willing to join you in the possibility of things shifting to this new perspective.
  2. Look at this as a learning opportunity for you and your child. You know what it feels like to witness your child in an unsupportive environment. Focus on what you want and how it will feel to see your child in a positive loving environment, imagining that all things are possible.
  3. Consider a new classroom or even school placement. More and more families with whom I work are finding alternative education models in which their children are thriving.  This suggestion does not mean you do not do the underlying work required—otherwise the challenges will follow you!

Though I used the example of how a teacher interacts with or views your child, the same concepts apply if you are concerned about how a grandparent, neighbor, coach or anyone else perceives your child.

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