Mar 10, 2010

The Teacher Whisperer

Tonight all 17 parents of next year's grade one class gathered to "call" the new teacher. We lit candles and spoke reverently of what qualities we hope this new person will embody as he or she guides our children for the next 8 years.

That's right, 8 years. In Waldorf education, teachers stay with the same class from grades 1 to 8. They develop deep, lasting relationships with each child, understand the dynamics of their particular group, learn patterns and detect growth and blockages in each individual child. They become one of the most significant individuals in that child's world. At the closing ceremony last year the 8th graders were openly weeping as their beloved teacher wished them well on their high school journey.

If Zekiah's gonna be with this teacher for 8 years, the hiring committee better get it right, right? But the most powerful thing I felt tonight was a deep shared trust in the philosophy and system we have entered. We did not demand 10 years experience or advanced degrees or any particular expertise. We just asked that the teacher genuinely love our children, hold their best interests at heart, and be committed to a course of lifelong learning for the children, parents and him/herself.

The two kindergarten teachers present will be part of the hiring committee, ensuring that our views and their own understanding of our children will be honoured during the process. It will not be a matter of hiring the best person, but the best person for this unique group of children and families. What a privilege to have any part at all in the choosing of our child's teacher.

When I asked Zekiah what he hoped the new teacher would be like, he simply said he wanted Mr Wilt, the outgoing 8th grade teacher who we hope will apply for the position. "He's the nicest teacher in the school," Zekiah explained. "Galen told me."

"And do you know how I know?" continued Galen. "Because all his students are happy."

If the person we psychically called upon tonight can have that effect on my child (especially my 8th grade child!), I'll say this was a night well-spent.

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