Daughter starting Kindergarten spurs introspection

Another school year is upon us. As an educator, I always feel a mix of anticipation and apprehension this time of year. 

I’m excited to get back into the swing of things and meet a new crop of students, but I’m anxious about making sure I have everything ready and ensuring my lessons will have the intended impact.

This year is different, though, because my daughter starts Kindergarten.

It doesn’t seem possible. It seems just like yesterday that she made her debut in the world, and now she is embarking on her educational journey. 

I know she is ready. My wife and I have worked with her on various skills, and she is excited to experience the classroom. She is naturally curious and wants to learn. 

She’ll be fine. I’m more worried about myself.

After more than a decade in the classroom, I’ve encountered a lot of parents. Some have been great. They’ve been supportive and trusted that everything I did had the best interests of my students in mind. If I needed something from them, like help or supplies, all I had to do was ask, and it was taken care of.

But there have been others who weren’t so supportive. They questioned everything. They tried to micromanage my classes, and they demonstrated zero trust in me as a professional, even though they had never stepped foot in a classroom.

I don’t want to be that parent, and I don’t want to demean a fellow educator that way.

My concern arises from being a teacher. Even though I’ve never taught Kindergarten and have zero intention of ever doing so, I have taught, and I’m worried my experiences and insights into the profession will make me want to question classroom practices or lessons. Even providing suggestions with honorable intentions worries me because it invariably sends a particular message to the teacher on the receiving end.

This reminds me of the concepts of the curse of knowledge or the curse of expertise. These are cognitive biases, often used interchangeably, that highlight how individuals assume that others have similar backgrounds and knowledge of a given topic or task. The issue is that a person can over- or underestimate what they know or what another person knows based upon their own knowledge. 

It comes down to acknowledging the other person’s knowledge and skills and being self-aware about your own strengths and weaknesses.

As Carl Wieman wrote in the November 2007 issue of American Physical Society News, educators need to avoid thinking “about student learning based on what appears best to faculty members, as opposed to what has been verified with students.”

So, as a parent, I need to just be trusting. I need to support my daughter and her teacher equally. 

Of course, I know that support won’t always be equal. I will take the word of the teacher over that of my daughter in instances where discipline has been administered.

Again, having been an educator for a while, I know how that works. It’s human nature to avoid punishment, which is why students will spin yarns to their parents if they get in trouble at school. 

I’ve encountered those parents who believe their students more than their teachers, and those parents are difficult to work with.

Instead, I will default to believing the teacher, and since my wife and I are both educators, we will not tolerate our children misbehaving in the classroom. We’ve experienced that, and we know it wears on the teacher.

No matter what, though, I’m excited to watch her learn and grow, and I wish her and all those heading into the classroom a great year. 

Todd Vogts is a native of Canton, a resident of McPherson County, and an assistant professor of media at Sterling College. He can be contacted with questions or comments via his website at www.toddvogts.com.

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About toddvogts 834 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.