If teachers could broadcast a public service announcement to all parents, it would look something like this:
TEN THINGS TEACHERS WISHED EVERY PARENT KNEW
10. T.M.I. (Too Much Information). In many situations, insight into your student’s home life can help us teachers to better understand your child. Please feel free to disperse any information that will help us connect the dots in your son or daughter’s classroom experience. That being said, teachers are often the recipients of way too much personal information! Before you dive into a discussion about your ex-husband, your mother in law, your boss, your landlord, or your fungal infection, ask yourself: “Is this really something I need to be telling my child’s teacher?”
9. No. This is not a good time for a conference. Despite what many students believe, teachers do go out in public, and when we do, we too often experience what we like to call “impromptu parent conferences.” Whether it is grabbing a gallon of milk at the grocery store, catching a movie on Friday night, or attending a local sporting event, teachers inevitably will run into parents. We do not want to talk about Johnny or Jennifer while we are sitting down to a romantic dinner out with our spouse or enjoying some other aspect of our personal life (nor do we have their classroom performance memorized and ready to discuss at a moment’s notice!). If you were out with your family, spouse, or friends and bumped into a co-worker, would you want to discuss business? We think not. Schedule a parent conference.
8. Whose homework is it anyway? You aren’t fooling a soul. Don’t do your child’s work. We see thousands of examples grade-level student work, and can spot a parent’s work from a mile away! We know you want your child to makes A’s. Every parent does. But let them make the grade, not you.
7. Give a good gift! Teaching is a tough job, and a small gift at appropriate times is a good way to show your gratitude. A meaningful gift from a student or parent will give any teacher a boost. First off, no school supplies! Would you give your Doctor a stethoscope or your mechanic a set of wrenches? Probably not. Things like a gift card for a meal out, homemade goodies, or a note from your child are great gift ideas. Teachers hang onto a hand written note, but most of the countless coffee mugs end up either in a thrift store or collecting dust in the far reaches of our kitchen cabinets.
6. I have way more kids than you. We truly care about your child and genuinely want to see them succeed, but we didn’t change their diapers, see their first steps, or hear their first words. Your kids mean the world to you (and they should), but please remember that we have balance your child’s needs with every other student. Don’t get us wrong, we will do everything we can to help your child grow…along with all the other people’s kids we have in our classroom (teachers in higher grades often have 100-200 students).
5. Talk to me first. If an issue does arise, please don’t immediately contact the principal, the superintendent, school board members, the newspaper, or your local congressmen. Give us teachers the benefit of the doubt and allow us the opportunity to explain the situation. Most “problems” with teachers have more to do with misinformation than misconduct. Maybe, just maybe, your sweet little angel has stretched the truth to keep out of trouble. A very wise teacher once said to parents: “If you don’t believe everything they say about me, I won’t believe everything they say about you.”
4. On the road again? You know when you are heading to the beach or when Susie’s next orthodontist appointment is…we don’t. Be proactive and keep your child ahead instead of letting them fall behind. Send an email, gather up assignments, and make the absence much smoother on your child’s academic progress. After all, they usually need something to do on that long car ride! If it is an unexpected absence, utilize school procedures concerning missing work (teacher websites, etc.). Many teachers spend a great deal of time placing assignments online, only to have parents and students fail to access them.
3. Let them struggle. This is something only a parent can understand—it is so hard to see our children struggle. We want them to easily and effortlessly coast from success to success. But we all know this isn’t reality. Sometimes good parenting means stepping back and letting your child struggle to succeed (especially as they get older). Let them learn a few lessons the hard way. When they are heading off to college and out into the real world, you will be glad that you did.
2. I’m a teacher not a magician. We don’t have miraculous cures for laziness, bad attitudes, misbehavior, or immaturity (if we did, we’d be millionaire beach bums not teachers!). It’s our job to hold your child accountable at school, but it is your job to hold them accountable at home. Most patterns in a child’s life (good and bad) are a result of their home situation so take ownership of your responsibilities as a parent. If you don’t do your job, it’s a whole lot harder for us to do ours. At the end of the day, they are your child, and our student. In other words, when they are twenty-something and can’t seem to hold a job, they will be moving into your basement not ours so you need to do your best to steer them towards success!
1. Trust me, I’m a teacher. The hardest thing on a teacher is a parent that thinks they know how to teach (unless, of course, that parent is actually a teacher!). I heard a parent once explain to a teacher that they knew everything there was to know about teaching because they had taught a few Sunday school classes! Until you have sat down with a full class load of kids from all walks of life, with high-aiming curriculum to teach, every misbehavior imaginable to manage, and a standardized test on one morning one school day to judge your entire competency as a teacher, trust that your teachers know more about teaching than you do. I know a teacher assistant that admitted: “I used to be really critical of my kids’ teachers. Then I got a job as a teacher assistant, and I can’t believe what you all do day in and day out.”
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