I can't tell you how many educational leaders have made speeches on the days leading up to the beginning of a new school year about students getting a fresh start. Teachers believe that all kids deserve a fresh start each year. There is no wriggle room here. It is kind of an unchallenged belief. It is cast in stone. It just is. And you know what? They do! Every single one of them deserves a fresh start.
Here's where I struggle a little. Parents don't get a fresh start. On MANY occasions, teachers who have worked with a difficult parent of mine, in the past, will eventually ask how it is going this year. When I'm able to report that everything is going okay so far, I'm given a "just wait." I can think of numerous occasions over many years when administrators have done a similar thing. They've explained that certain parents were "difficult" and that I needed to be careful or worse yet, they've completely discounted the progress that the parent and I were making together. They devalued my effort and criticized me for not seeing the parent's true colors.
I've worked with lots of difficult parents over the years. I remind myself of one thing again and again. Parents reach out to communicate with educators when they are sincerely concerned about their child and his or her learning. Some parents are well-equipped to advocate for their kids. Other parents are extremely lacking when it comes to advocating for their kids. Most fall somewhere in between. All parents, who take the time to communicate with educators at their child's school, care deeply about their kids. They're not out to get us. They're not out to ruin our day. They're not out to "tell us off." Some parents connect with us better than they have connected with previous educators. Some don't. Sometimes the relationship between parent and teacher is worse than it has been in previous years. However, sometimes gains are made, trust is built, and the relationship becomes healthy and productive. Regardless, parents deserve a fresh start too!