When it comes right down to the absolute crux of the matter, parents (broadly speaking) care the most about two things: Money, and their children. The priority of one over the other generally shifts depending on the situation, though the latter would (again, broadly and hopefully speaking), in the end, win out.
So when it comes to education, it is little wonder that parents—involved, concerned parents—are so keenly interested in the quality of schooling their children receive. After all, their taxes go into a public school situation, or pay for the fees at a private or charter school. Logically, they should be concerned.
But parents don’t invest solely in their students; good teachers do, too. In fact, most teachers would probably cite the joy in helping others to understand the world around them as one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. Not only is there a deep sense of accomplishment in seeing the much (and rightly) vaunted and nearly priceless “Ah-ha!” moment, but the appropriate relationships forged between a class and a teacher also prove quite worthwhile.
By relationship it is meant, simply, the way that two people interact. Often the teacher/student relationship is nothing more than a “She’s my student/He’s my teacher”. Sometimes there are common interests, but nothing should impinge on the established roles—platonic interest in everything they do.
Without the ability to create a professional emotional investment in the success of the child as a whole, a teacher quickly devolves into little more than disciplinarian and babysitter. Lamentably, many jaded and disheartened teachers have followed the path of reproach, allowing the most pressing joy of the career—the aforementioned “Ah-ha!” moment—to be swallowed up in the murk of the mundane. Few people embark on a teaching career in order to do nothing more than paperwork; most do it for the sense of positive impact that they have on the rising generation. Yet paperwork is a part of the teaching process, as is the discipline and recognition that are also required of teachers.
The emotional investment that comes into play is complicated—ask any teacher his/her feelings about the students two weeks before the end of school, and then after the last yearbook is signed and the door to the classroom closes for the final time before the summer. There is a strange interplay of emotions and feelings, and it’s all predicated on a basic premise that education, at some level, is worthwhile and valuable. During the height of finals and the depth of despair over the concept of teaching as a whole, the intrinsic value of teaching and being taught is sometimes overshadowed. Yet returning teachers know that, come the beginning of June, there will be the most complicated, bittersweet feelings of farewells and a strange hope that, maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad to see some of these kids again.
While parents may have their finances and their children invested in the school system, they are not alone. Teachers who do what they do well are those who are emotionally invested—not just in the school system, but in the lives of those students (sometimes few) whom they impacted for the better.