When we decided to adopt, I thought that I was a perfect ‘candidate’. Why? Well…
- I had over 10 years experience working with children, loved my job and knew how to connect with them.
- I had been a Primary Headteacher as well as being the SENCo for a very short period of time, so I understood about special needs.
- We were planning on adopting school aged children, so I would know how to get the best for the children in schools.
- I had been the lead in safeguarding, been on the courses and had a good understanding of trauma and attachment.
Well, I can say, hand on heart, that NONE of these things have actually been particularly helpful since adopting. At the time, many many people told me that parenting and educating were two very different things. I did believe them – well I think I did – but it wasn’t until actually being a parent that I realised that, although I could get 140 children to be quiet by raising an eyebrow, I couldn’t get 2 small children to put their shoes on without a temper tantrum! That was a bit of a wake up call.
However, I comforted myself in the knowledge that, when the children were both in school, I would come into my own. I felt confident that I would be able to talk to the Head, SENCo and teachers in a way which would demonstrate my understanding of the issues, both theirs and ours, and we would be able to work together to a mutual understanding. Ummmm, well it turns out that this has just not happened! Why? Well…
- Having been a teacher, I am so aware of how busy they are. They have 30 children to deal with, not to mention their parents, and I just don’t want to be ‘that’ parent. You know, the one who teachers dread seeing heading towards the door!
- I made the mistake in thinking that, when there was a problem with either of the children, I’d be able to remain calm and professional. Turns out that in reality I am a bit of a mama bear. Mess with my kids, mess with me! Who knew??
- I hadn’t actually realised that some schools (OK read most schools) aren’t attachment aware. I would have said previously that as a teacher I was attachment aware. I wasn’t! Not even close! The thing is, teachers are overwhelmed by the amount they have to teach, do, know etc, and if you don’t ever teach an adopted or Looked After Child (which I never did) then you wouldn’t have had a reason to become aware. It’s not a good excuse, I know, but it’s very much the truth.
However, the worst part really is that, having the knowledge I do have from being a Primary Head, actually has made the whole situation much more frustrating for me! I find myself becoming angry when the school seems to be unaware of Pupil Premium Plus. I’m frustrated that they don’t understand why their behaviour management techniques don’t work for adopted children. I genuinely can’t fathom that the Head isn’t aware that Little Miss has a communication disorder and has put in place a punishment which is beyond reason! It’s all baffling and frustrating to me.
So, I’m going to be biting the bullet for the next year and become ‘that’ parent. I have to get over my concern about that in order to be the advocate for my children that they need me to be. After all, if I don’t do it – who is going to?
Is it just me? There would be so many things I’d do differently if I went back to teaching – what’s the one thing you wish schools would do?