IN MY TWENTY-FIVE YEARS in the teaching profession, there have been moments where I felt parents to be overbearing, and working with them caused the most dedicated teacher to burn with frustration.
But from the parents’ perspective, dealing with teachers can be an anxiety-ridden and an exasperating ordeal. The biggest problem stemming from this disconnection between parents and teachers is that students are caught in the middle, and at times, if not handled well, their potential to advance, is hindered.
The relationship between teachers and parents is an extremely powerful component in a student’s success story. Yet, so many parents go through the school year without communicating with the teacher or understanding what to do (or avoid) to make the most of the year. But while most of us would hope to behave rather better when it comes to dealings with our children’s teachers, there are many among us, who are found wanting in many aspects. In short, are we really giving the profession our full respect?
Just consider this . . .
- Top American teaching guru, Ron Clark points out: “Today, new teachers remain in our profession for an average of just four and a half years, and many of them list ‘issues with parents’ as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel.”
- Kevin Rooney, Head of Social Science at a school in the UK insisted: “We need to let parents be parents and let teachers teach. A pressing issue is the loss of teacher autonomy in the classroom.”
Whether it’s outright hostility or a loss of respect, many teachers would say it’s not just the students who need lessons in how to behave – but that parents too, might benefit from a few do’s and don’ts.
So, being more proactive means going inside the mind of a teacher to discover what parents should and shouldn’t do to make the most of the school year.
17 Things English Teachers Want Parents To Know @ High School
Teachers carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to the classroom. Not only are they in charge of the learning experience for each student, but they’re also in charge of the well-being of each student in their care. The load is heavy but could be lightened with some help and understanding from parents.
Here are 17 things English Teachers @ High School really want parents to know to help make the educational experience run a little smoother.
1. BE INVOLVED – Yes, teachers do want parents to get actively involved. But that doesn’t mean thinking you know better when it comes to the English curriculum decisions, or what marks to give your oh-so gifted offspring.
What it does mean is more than just turning up to parents’ evenings but that a parent’s involvement helps students learn, improve schools and helps teachers work with you to help your children succeed.
So, keep communication lines open, checking in every so often to raise any questions you may have. If possible, volunteer to help occasionally – or ask the teachers if there is anything you can do at home.
2. CHECK UP ON YOUR CHILDREN – Please do look at their timetables and go through their folders with them regularly – so they know you’re on top of what they should be doing. You will be surprised that even those in senior year have some deficiencies. Check on them, please.
And read every letter and report that’s sent home with your child.
3. BE ORGANIZED – You can’t be expected to know about the letter you need to sign if it’s crumpled in the bottom of the bag. Establish a routine where your child clears out their bag nightly so you get any important letters and homework doesn’t disappear into the black hole.
4. HOMEWORK IS FOR STUDENTS – There’s a fine line between helping and taking over. It’s important to review your little one’s English homework, but if he or she gets an answer wrong don’t just tell them the right answer – help them understand why.
“Homework is for children not parents – if it’s really beyond their capabilities, let the teacher know.”
5. LET YOUR CHILD MAKE MISTAKES – We, English teachers don’t want perfect students only; we want students who try hard. Don’t get caught up in thinking every assignment has to be perfect. It’s important for teachers to see where a child is going wrong, so they can go over the material again.
6. DON’T LEAP ON THE DEFENSIVE – Remember, teachers are usually in the job because they want to teach – not because they’re out to get you/your child.
So, if you’re told there is a problem with your child’s behaviour, don’t jump to their defence – LISTEN to what the teacher has to say. As one quips: “Don’t automatically believe everything your child tells you and, in turn, we won’t believe everything they say about you!”
Tiffany Jean Williams-Solod said: “As a teacher (oh yes, I am both) I want parents to stop blaming teachers and start working with us. We can’t fix everything, but remember we are humans and we aren’t perfect. Also, teach your kids to respect us.”
7. TRUST IN THE TEACHER’S FEEDBACK – Just because a child doesn’t exhibit a particular behavior at home doesn’t mean s/he doesn’t exhibit that behavior in the classroom. So, if a teacher reports a particular behavior that you haven’t seen before, don’t rush to say, “Well, I’ve never seen my child do that.” The classroom and home environments are quite different, and often times, children behave differently when forced to follow rules and work with peers. LISTEN to what the teacher has to say and work with him/her to find a solution.
Ron Clark wrote: “We are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it.”
8. RESPECT THE TEACHER – Remember that the teacher is on your side. Teachers truly care about your children and want them to be successful.
Nelson explains: “The child’s success is our success. If your child’s teacher contacts you about a problem or something that happened at school, understand that the teacher is trying to work with you to resolve any conflicts that may be getting in the way of your child’s success. We’re all on the same team.”
Similarly, don’t talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child as Ron Clark points out: “If your child knows you don’t respect their teachers they won’t either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.”
9. DON’T SHOW UP FOR A MEETING UNANNOUNCED – It’s great if you want to meet with the English teacher to discuss an issue or chat about your child, but don’t show up at school without any warning. Instead, schedule a time to meet—not only does this show that you respect the teacher’s time, but it also gives him/her time to prepare for the meeting and provide you with everything you want to know. Always give an agenda for your meeting.
10. MANNERS ARE IMPORTANT – Good manners go a long way in a student’s life as one teacher pointed out: “As much as I treat all students equally, the child who remembers to say ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘excuse me’ is thought of more fondly.” This also means parents must always address behavior issues at home. The English saying, “the apple does not fall very far from the tree” is quite apt. It is a strong reminder for us as parents!
“Children don’t enjoy getting in trouble, so when they come home and tell you about how mean the teacher is, keep in mind they may be telling the story in a way that they won’t get punished.”
If this happens, try to get to the heart of the issue and uncover the facts so you can address it.
11. IF THE TEACHER IS DOING SOMETHING RIGHT, LET THEM KNOW – Buck the trend and send an email or call when your child enjoys a class event, or says something nice about their English Teacher. It can make all the difference. And if you’re really pleased, why not let the head know? Surely, who doesn’t need praise and recognition?
Cindy Hoffman. “We’re in a partnership, trying to do the best for the children as possible. Please don’t treat us as adversaries.”
12. IF THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG, DON’T OVERREACT – If there’s something you’re not happy about, speak to the teacher first rather than going straight to the head/head of year.
As one teacher wryly says: “If you’ve got a problem, come and see me first, going straight to the head is just rude. Next time I have a problem with little Jamie and your parenting style, I’ll ring your boss and see how you like it.”
This also means . . .
13. GIVE TEACHERS TIME TO RESPOND – Communication between teachers and parents is a positive thing especially when it helps keep both sides on top of the student’s work and performance levels. However, teachers would like parents to remember that they are not the teacher of just one child, but of many and this means giving the teacher time to respond.
Communicate with the teacher and then wait. Give the teacher a few days to respond before sending a second note or calling and accusing the teacher of not paying attention to the note. You’ll be amazed how much better the response will be when an appropriate amount of response time is given.
Tiffany Jean Williams-Solod, can relate to both worlds – “As a parent, I want my child challenged every single day, and if she doesn’t get it, please tell me so I can assist you. Don’t be afraid to tell me if my child disrespects you.”
14. PARENT PRAISE IS IMPORTANT for Students – Teachers have a way of knowing which student is receiving positive feedback and encouragement from parents at home and which student isn’t. It shows in how the student performs in the classroom.
Students who are praised for their hard work at home tend to strive even more to continue performing well at school. However, students who don’t receive praise in any form from their parents often take on a nonchalant attitude at school. For instance, if no one really cares how well or how bad the student does in school, then the student may assume there’s no point in trying.
Parents need to cheer for their children and take an active role in praising them for a job well done.
15. THE HOME IS A CLASSROOM TOO – While teachers are responsible for educating students in a broad variety of subjects, they can’t be responsible for teaching students everything. Basic life lessons in how to treat others, knowing right from wrong, learning how to cook, etc need to be taught at home by the parents.
Life skills can help students prepare for situations at school and in life. Parents can help increase their student’s knowledge by using the home as a learning environment as well.
16. PARENTS, BE A PARTNER INSTEAD OF A PROSECUTOR – Parents need to know that it’s OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong.
This equally means . . .
17. PLEASE, QUIT WITH ALL THE EXCUSES – This is similar to #6 but here teachers really want to help your children be successful, so stop making excuses for them. Thus, some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn towards excuses and do not create a strong work ethic.
If you don’t want your child to end up at 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren’t succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions by involving their teachers.
On a final note, please remember that teachers are not perfect humans and you are not a perfect parent, but we are working together for the best of this child. Let us keep it that way.
I am a Teacher and a Parent myself, so, the above issues are a general overview of what I have experienced over the years.
There are many excellent parents out there who want the best and work well with their children’s teachers. Please keep it up! If you have fallen short in some areas, it is never too late to make amends. Go for it!