It’s back to school time, which brings a lot of excitement for kids and parents. However, back to school time can also be a time of anxiety for families. One thing that many parents worry about is who their child will have as a teacher. Many parents feel that much of their child’s success hinges on having the “right” teacher. In my nearly 10 years working in education, I’ve dealt with many anxious parents who were concerned that perhaps because of a discipline issue or special condition that I would not like their child, or that their child might be a “problem.” I want to set the record straight for all of you nervous parents out there, and hopefully give you some insight on just how much your child’s teacher cares about your child.
1. We want your child to succeed. I do not know any teachers who enjoy failing students. First of all, it makes us look bad. Our jobs ultimately depend on whether or not we’ve effectively taught our students, and that is measured through things like grades and test scores. More importantly, we care about our students and we want to see them succeed. If your child is bringing home bad grades or poor behavior reports, know that his teacher is probably as upset over it as you are. We want to find that one thing that motivates your child, or helps him understand. We want him to know the joy of mastering a new skill. Most of all, we want to work with you to find the solution.
2. It drives us crazy when your child comes to school sick. As a mom, I know that sometimes in the morning rush you may not realize that your child has a fever. I also know that kids’ sore throats and tummy aches can be entirely fictional, so it’s easy to blow off their complaints. We don’t always realize that our child is sick until we get that call from the nurse. However, I beg you, if you know your child is sick, please don’t just give her a dose of medicine and send her to school. Doing this benefits no one. You’re spreading illness to other students and the staff. I understand that missing work to care for a sick child can leave you scrambling. But how would you feel if your child came down with something because another parent sent their child to school sick? Don’t do that to someone else. Additionally, if your child is sick, she won’t be able to give school her full attention. Your school has an illness policy for a reason, and it’s in the best interest of everyone involved for you to follow it.
3. Something going on at home? We want to know. Your child’s teacher doesn’t need to know all the details of your personal life. However, if there’s something going on at home that might cause a change in your child’s grades or behavior, we want to know about it. If we see a sudden change in your child, and don’t have any idea about why it’s happening, it can be hard to know how to handle the situation. Simply clueing a teacher in on a difficult family situation will help her know whether your child needs a little more time to finish her work, or perhaps some extra encouragement. Going through a divorce? Is someone in your family seriously ill? Is a parent getting ready for deployment? Consider letting your child’s teacher know these things. Their support can help minimize any negative effects on your child’s academic progress.
4. Parent volunteers don’t just benefit teachers. I know we’re all busy. Maybe you’ve meant to volunteer with your child’s school or in her classroom, but you just haven’t got around to it. Please, please, moms and dads, make it a priority to volunteer at your child’s school this year. I believe in parent volunteers for two reasons. First, you make our job easier. Your help is extremely valuable to us, and it is greatly appreciated. Second, and most important, is that when you are involved in your child’s school, you are communicating to your child that their education is important. Important enough for you to take an active role by taking time away from work or other obligations to be there. Knowing how your child’s classroom operates gives you greater insight into her day. Seeing how the teacher demonstrates a skill can be helpful when you’re assisting with homework. Above all, serving as a parent volunteer tells your child, “I care about your education, and I care about you.”
5. We care about your child. Contrary to what some may think, we teachers don’t do what we do because we want summers off. The vast majority of teachers do their job because they love and care about children, and they love to teach. One of the great joys of my life is seeing my students learn something new. Every time a student hugs me and tells me I’m “the best teacher ever,” my heart swells. I go to birthday parties, soccer games, and band concerts because I care about my students and love being a part of their lives. And I’m not the only one. There are thousands of teachers around the world who feel the same way about their students. When your child is having a rough time in class, it can be easy to assume that the teacher just doesn’t care about your child. In most cases, the truth is that we care very deeply your child, even if he’s failing. We love your child, even if she has behavior issues. We don’t look at your child and see a grade, a problem, or a medical condition. We see a child who needs education, guidance, and love, and we want to work with you to provide all of those things.