Much like children in a classroom, families come in different shapes and sizes. Some are small, some are mixed, some are bloodline, some are extended. Regardless, every student comes from some form of family. As teachers, we need to be open and willing to learn about these diverse families.
My representation above is in response to an article found in The New Teacher Book. The reading can be found on page 95 and it is entitled Framing the Family Tree by Sudie Hofmann. The reading opens with frustration as a student is faced with the issue of not having a father to give her Father’s Day card to.
This family issue was not one that I faced growing up. I had two parents, a mom and dad, and my family (the nuclear family) was considered the traditional family unit. I was able to do Mother’s Day/Father’s day cards, family trees, and other assignments without experiencing anger, bitterness, and uncomfortable feelings. Nowadays though, this traditional idea of family is slowly dissolving. With such a changing society, there are increasingly more diverse families in Canada and throughout the world.
Families are not just a mom, dad & kids anymore. Same-sex couples, blended families, mixed race couples, and single-parent families are slowly becoming part of this idea of ‘family’. And as teachers, we need to be aware of this. In my future classroom, I feel that it will be tough to not become oppressive in my teachings. I’m slowly learning to realize that the family that I grew up with is not the same as my peers. However, I do have an open mind and I am becoming increasingly more comfortable with all families. This allows me to get to know many diverse types of families and to not define family simply as ‘the nuclear family’.
With this in mind, I will try to make sure that I am careful in choosing projects in my teaching career (such as the Family Tree). At this point in time, I think that it will be hard for me to not single out students who may not fit the ‘ideal family’ that I am so accustomed to. However, I will try my best to get to know my students personally and involve their families inside and outside of my classroom as much as I can.
Ultimately, throughout the stages of our lives, our families are there for us when we take our first steps and although they are changing, they often continue to be a safe and comfortable part of our lives.