Listen Up – What Teachers Wish You Knew

This post first appeared on Volunteerspot’s blog. I thought it apt to share here as well.

With summer quickly fading into the distance and school starting again in North America parents are doing their best to gear up for another year. Sometimes it can seem positively overwhelming so before panic strikes, here are some things teachers would love for you to know to make the upcoming year a smashing success.

  • Give them a break.  It’s ok if your child didn’t study the upcoming curriculum all  summer because we get it; summer are for relaxation and family time.  So your child does not need to come in knowing everything, in fact, we prefer they don’t so that we may teach them instead.  Have them read books over the summer but give them a break from the homework if you can.
  • We welcome your visits, but not all the time.  I love having parents in my classroom but sometimes they are just a massive distraction.  So if you want to come in unscheduled, please don’t.  Let the teacher know that you would like to come in and check if it is a good time, sometimes it just isn’t, and please don’t take it personal.
  • Let your child do the work.  While some parent assistance is nice, this is not your time to shine.  If your child does not get something, we need to know and there is no way for us to find out if you help them too much with their homework or projects.  Instead, let the teacher know that this was difficult, that way we can do our job and you don’t have to go back to school.
  • If we have a concern, please take it seriously.  It is very difficult for teachers to bring up new concerns but sometimes it needs to be done, so if your child’s teacher does bring up a new concern, please listen to them. Even if the behavior described is something you have never witnessed please keep in mind that there is a real reason for the teacher to bring it up.  Together you can figure out whether there should be steps taken or if it just is an adjustment period.
  • Remember teachers are human too.  We are not perfect nor do we pretend to be, so sometimes we mess up.  Whatever your concern may be, discuss it with us, bring it up, but please be kind.  There is never any reason to treat us terrible just because you are upset.  Treat us the same way you would like to be treated.
  • Give us time to respond.  Often your emails or messages are given prompt attention but sometimes the school day just gets in the way.  Give us a couple of days, or tell us if this is time sensitive so that we may respond appropriately.  We would rather give your matter the attention it deserves than a rushed response.
  • Trust us.  We are professionals who have been hired because the district believes in us.  This year will not work if you do not trust us at least in the beginning.  Almost all teachers are in this job because they believe in making a difference for all students through teaching.  If we get undermined at home your child learns to disrespect us as well and that makes for a tough relationship.
  • Let your child be responsible.  Sometimes your child will fail an assignment, forget their homework, or have a bad day.  Let them navigate these things to learn the deeper lessons.  We all became responsible adults because our parents let us navigate life.  Support your child in school but don’t help them make up excuses or come to their rescue every time they mess up, this is all part of growing up.

What did I leave out?

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