Elizabeth loved everything about school. She had lots of friends and enjoyed learning tremendously. That is, until she started 3rd grade. During her first three years of school, she always had several of her favorite friends in her classroom, but looking at the list of names in her new class, she was disappointed that none of her friends were on the list. This wouldn’t have been a disaster for Elizabeth, since she found it easy to make new friends, but it made the new school year less exciting than it might have been.
What made matters worse was her new teacher, Mrs. Smith. As far as Elizabeth was concerned, Mrs. Smith (an ISTP), just wasn’t very friendly and she was making constant changes to their daily routines. In addition, she was always asking the children to be quieter. Elizabeth found this cold, quiet environment downright hostile. She just knew that Mrs. Smith didn’t like her.
Elizabeth was an excellent student and worked hard to complete her assignments well. She particularly loved Social Studies. Learning about different people and cultures fascinated her. She often asked a lot of questions during Social Studies, but it seemed to Elizabeth that Mrs. Smith was irritated by her questions. On more than one occasion, she reminded Elizabeth that, although she appreciated Elizabeth’s insights and questions, they needed to stay focused on the information they were learning. In truth, the facts and details tended to bore Elizabeth.
It wasn’t long before Elizabeth was complaining to her ENTJ mother. Although her mother was aware that Elizabeth was unhappy, she also thought that Elizabeth could learn to cope with her new teacher. Knowing that Elizabeth was, at times, particularly sensitive, her mother reminded her as kindly as possible that school was about learning, and could not always be fun. Furthermore, she was sure that Elizabeth would make new friends quickly and that might make all of the difference. Elizabeth was hurt that her mother did not support her feelings, but wanting to please her, she said she would try harder.
However, after two months, it seemed to Elizabeth’s mother that her enthusiasm for school had definitely dropped. In fact, even the quality of her work had fallen off a bit. Although Elizabeth had made new friends, she still complained that she was unhappy in her new class. Elizabeth told her mother that even when she tried to help her teacher by tidying up the class during recess, Mrs. Smith seem to ignore her efforts, which only made Elizabeth feel worse. Elizabeth’s mother decided that it was time to meet with Mrs. Smith.
The moment she walked into Elizabeth’s classroom, she was struck with how disorganized the room was. There seemed to be stacks of papers and artwork everywhere and the children’s desks were rather messy. Mrs. Smith seemed very reserved and waited for Elizabeth’s mother to break the ice. Elizabeth’s mother described her concerns about her daughter’s lack of enthusiasm and faltering work. Mrs. Smith replied that Elizabeth was an excellent student and, although she had been very talkative at the beginning of the year, she had seemed to quiet down and cooperate. Mrs. Smith was not unhappy with her work, although she wished that Elizabeth would not ask quite so many questions during Social Studies. It tended to put the teacher even further behind in her curriculum requirements. Mrs. Smith wondered about Elizabeth’s habit of staying inside during some recesses in order to help clean the room. She seemed to be suggesting that Elizabeth was a bit too needy for attention.
True to her temperament, relationships with significant others, family, friends, teachers, etc., were very important for Elizabeth. The fact that she did not feel close to, or well liked by, Mrs. Smith, had an effect on her overall enjoyment of school. Elizabeth’s mother tried to explain this to Mrs. Smith. The teacher agreed to pay closer attention to Elizabeth and encourage her progress. Although Elizabeth’s mother did not doubt her sincerity, she did doubt that things would improve very much. She decided to take a different approach.
Elizabeth’s mother realized that she needed to help prepare Elizabeth for dealing with different people. Each new teacher that Elizabeth had would be different, some more fun than others. Elizabeth was highly perceptive about people and their feelings. Recognizing this strength, Elizabeth’s mother then asked her if she could describe how Mrs. Smith felt about teaching. At first Elizabeth was surprised by the question, but pretty quickly she had a lot of ideas. Elizabeth thought that Mrs. Smith was kind of shy and uncomfortable and that she was always behind on her work and didn’t seem happy about it. In fact, Elizabeth began to realize, Mrs. Smith was not a very happy teacher. Her mother then suggested that perhaps she should not take her relationship with Mrs. Smith too personally. She emphasized that teachers were just people and quite different from one another, just as Elizabeth’s classmates were. She should not expect every teacher-student relationship to be close and fun. She also suggested that she take care of her desk and her things, but realize that Mrs. Smith was responsible for taking care of the classroom. Elizabeth should have fun with her friends during recess. Her last bit of advice was simple. Elizabeth was strong and she would survive.
Elizabeth still cared very deeply about her relationships with others—family, friends and teachers alike. But survive she did while learning a useful lesson. Needless to say, though, she was grateful when the school year ended.
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