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Inside Teaching : April 2011
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org SEE ME AFTERWARDS 57 sent one poor soul sprawling on her face. The most ingenious and hilarious was the time the entire class disappeared down a hatch in the wooden floor while the teacher’s back was turned. We stayed there, under the floorboards, in a huddled, muffled heap until we heard him leave the room. Then we piled back out of our hidey-hole and were quietly working away like little angels when he returned with the headmaster to investigate our sudden disappearance. Heh, heh – 40 years later and I’m still laughing. Even now, that teacher is probably in therapy. One of the differences, though, these days is how savvy kids are, not only about their rights, but about the tenuous hold you have over them as a parent. When disciplining my kids, they’ve accused me of being ‘insensitive to the rights of minorities.’ I received a handwritten Mother’s Day card that began: ‘You are my role model and primary caregiver.’ Again, you have to laugh. What’s pretty clear is that tolerance is called upon from all sides when that precious bond between teacher and child is interrupted. It’s not that much different from when the stepmother comes to stay. ‘Imagine you were that relief teacher,’ I said to my kids. ‘He doesn’t know you. He doesn’t know that Jasmine always waves at the window. The girls shouldn’t have been fighting. And, maybe he hasn’t got a very good sense of humour.’ In essence, I said, as they put it in American sit-coms, ‘Cut the guy a break.’ To the relief teacher I’d like to say, ‘Relax. Make your time with a new class as enjoyable for everyone as you can. Remember the legendary Mrs Doubtfire, Nanny McPhee or Mary Poppins and leave a sprinkle of stardust in your wake.’ Most of all, I’d like to give everlasting thanks to my daughter’s classroom teacher. Thank you for your deep insight into my daughter and her classmates’ personalities. Thank you for bonding them as a group, for making it possible for them to stand up for each other in the face of what they, however misguidedly, perceive to be an injustice. Thank you for making their classroom a welcoming place. Thank you for being a warm, wonderful and wise presence in my child’s life. Welcome back! We all missed you. Wendy Harmer is one of Australia’s best known humorists and authors, and a regular columnist for Inside Teaching. WHEN DISCIPLINING MY KIDS, THEY’VE ACCUSED ME OF BEING ‘INSENSITIVE TO THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES.’ I RECEIVED A HANDWRITTEN MOTHER’S DAY CARD THAT BEGAN: ‘YOU ARE MY ROLE MODEL AND PRIMARY CAREGIVER.’