Things Teachers Want Parents To Know

imageThe other day, I attended Parents Evening for a cohort of my students. After nearly ten years and about seventy similar events, I realised that this was my last ever set of parental meetings. It was quite an unusual revelation. Of the thousands of conversations that I have had with parents over the years, there are things that, from a teacher perspective, I and many of my friends and colleagues want them to know.

1. I genuinely care about your child and their well-being. I believe that your child has the potential to become a well-rounded, successful human being and I work hard to help them in their journey.

2. Teacher training days are important and aren’t there for the purpose of inconveniencing you. Most professions require training and professional development on a regular basis and we have them to develop our ability to support our youngsters in every aspect of their lives.

3. Your child isn’t stupid. Even at the age of thirty-three, I still struggle with maths. If you asked me to sprint 100 metres it would probably take me longer than most. My attempts at drawing and sketching real life would make Picasso look like an amateur. None of these make me stupid, I just have talents in other areas. Your child has their own strengths and weaknesses and telling them that they aren’t clever or good at something could possibly result in self-confidence issues that may affect them on a long-term basis. Levels aren’t always everything – if your child works hard and does their absolute best, I can’t ask any more from them.

4. Discipline and manners begins at home. I shouldn’t have to explain to a sixteen year-old why rolling their eyes, tutting, huffing and snapping ‘what?!’ at me is not an appropriate response when I call their name in a lesson, or remind them to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ during their interactions with myself and their peers.

5. Correcting your child when they make a mistake doesn’t mean I dislike them or am ‘picking on them.’ If a child makes a mistake in a lesson, I will speak to them about it and give them the opportunity to change their behaviour. If I have to speak to them more than once, I will issue an appropriate sanction that is consistent for every student I teach. You may believe that your child is an angel, but telling them that they don’t have to do a detention I have set and that I am clearly being biased is teaching them that their behaviour is acceptable.

6. Allowing your child to play on their XBox until 1.00am does not help me. When I’m tired, I lose concentration and motivation and I’m far more irritable than usual, even as an adult. An eleven year-old who has had five or six hours of sleep may as well not be in school – by lunch they have switched off completely.

7. My job is to facilitate learning, not to actually do the work for them. Your child is not finding the work too difficult, they’re simply lazy. I set differentiated tasks in each lesson to accommodate the needs of the entire class and I try and challenge each individual as much as possible. I set weekly coursework catch-up sessions, detentions, I ring home, send emails, I even remind students of impending deadlines as I’m passing them in the corridors. If your child doesn’t complete their coursework to the standard that they are capable of, it is because they haven’t put the work in, not because I am a bad teacher.

8. I am not perfect and I make mistakes. Move on. I treat each new teaching day as a fresh start and if a child has had a bad day we start again with a clean slate in the next lesson. Reminding me of the time I upset your now sixteen year-old when they were twelve is not relevant or productive to their education.

9. Your child is not being bullied, they are a troublemaker. This is perhaps the most difficult element of the profession that I have dealt with in my conversations with parents. I experienced years of bullying when I was at school, and as a teacher it is something that I will absolutely not tolerate. However, I have been in many situations where a child has deliberately gone out of their way to cause trouble amongst their friends because they like to create an element of drama in their lives and have then accused others of bullying them when they have retaliated. Of course, any parent will want to protect their child if they feel they are being threatened and I will always do my best to resolve any conflicts amongst students regardless of the circumstances. However, yelling at me without listening to the whole story first is not going to teach your child that deliberately causing trouble will have consequences.

10. I want us to be a team and I appreciate your support. My job is made much easier with the knowledge that I can share your child’s achievements or my concerns without fear of judgement or blame being placed in my direction. Thank you.

What about you? Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to say in your profession, but can’t?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks and Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks

 

65 thoughts on “Things Teachers Want Parents To Know

  1. I’ve always admired teachers. They have a thankless job most of the time, when in reality their role is one of the most important in a child’s life. Thank you for all your contributions. You totally rock ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Oh, this is wonderful!!! I can’t imagine being a teacher and having to contend with the poor upbringing, badly behaved children and their parents. I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and deal with parents every day. Most people think Nurse Practitioners are nurses, which we are but with a whole bunch of experience under our stethoscopes (Ha! – I didn’t say belt) and a Masters degree. I have had people ask me, after I have examined their child and talked about our plan of care – when are we going to get to see the doctor, or….what we drove all this way JUST to see a nurse, or in one mother’s case and ‘f…ing’ nurse. One more thing, Parents – do not tell your children when they are misbehaving, that you are going to take them to the doctor to get a shot. I can think of no better way to make your child hate going to the doctor and being completely terrified when they are there. We nurses and practitioners and physician assistants are all there to help, not to hurt or punish. Thanks for letting me have my say!!!! Great post!!!!!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, and for doing the valuable job that you do! I can completely relate – I’ve been asked when they can speak to someone more senior, despite being in the profession for ten years!

      • I just hate that!!. It is such a passive-aggressive attempt to belittle. Thanks for all that you do. We both have tough, thankless jobs…at times.

    • Some of the best care I received came from nurse practitioners. When you live in a rural area, a lot of the doctors are from parts of the world where “woman” and “histrionic” mean the same thing to them. I thanked God for being able to go to a nurse practitioner instead of a bunch of you-know-what’s who thought that God was spelled M.D. -)

      More people appreciate you that you may know.

      • That is so nice of you to say!!!! I used to work in a rural health clinic just outside Jacksonville, and that is where I probably felt the most appreciated.

  3. Well written, Suzie, but so many of the parents switched this off at the first line. They don’t want to know how to be better parents, and their kids reflect that by not wanting to be better students.

      • That is so true! I’ve always believed that if parents are appropriately involved in their kid’s life, the kid will do well. If parents only want to get involved in the classroom by interfering with the teacher’s goals – that’s trouble.
        Every day, you are so much closer to being happier. Good for you.

  4. Not all teachers are as caring as you. All that’s needed are a few bad teachers in a school full of good teachers to color a parent’s perceptions.

    My son was gifted and very bored at school. He had a teacher in 6th grade whose favorite phrase was, “Mr G— loves you.” But Mr. G was cruel and belittling to my son, and I tried several times to get my son moved to another classroom. Then I found out that Mr. G was best friends with the principle. Mr G wanted my son to be kept back a year–and he would be in the same class with Mr. G again! I was adamant that this was NOT going to happen. My son was tested in middle school, found to be gifted, and soared in their gifted program. I only wish I’d tried harder to get my son out of that hellish situation in 6th grade, but the best I could do was to make certain that my daughter didn’t go into Mr. G’s class.

    • Ooh I could tell you some stories about some teachers who clearly lost their passion for the job years ago when I first started working in the profession. Unfortunately, it’s like anything – the poor teachers give the rest a bad name…

    • Thanks! We all have key phrases that we use when speaking to parents and there’s a fine line that we have between telling the absolute truth and remaining polite and encouraging!

      • Sometimes parents just need to hear the truth – even if they choose to deny it -(that doesn’t change the facts)! ๐Ÿ’™ Hang in there, sweetie – you teachers make all the difference!

  5. That was fantastic, Suzie.I have learned to wait before I go charging through the teacher’s door. I developed a very good relations with our assistant Principal where we could touch base on all sorts of issues both with kids and parents bullying teachers. He was fabulous with my son. All I’d have to do after a rough morning is say a few words or give him the look and he had a word to him. Not a nasty word but an encouraging one. That really helped get me through tough times. That partnership between home and school is vital.
    As far as my own profession is concerned, it’s a bit hard to put a title on that at the moment. Writer. Parent. Procrastinator.Taxi driver. I’d like people to take bloggers seriously and realise we don’t just write a load of crap. That we are good, talented writers who research a host of subjects and many have the skills of a professional journalist and take it very seriously. My world has expanded and opened up so much through blogging as has my general knowledge..and my writing! xx Rowena
    PS I shared this on Facebook.

    • Thanks so much Rowena! We always do our best to support each individual as much as possible and it’s always much easier to do so when we have the support of parents. I agree about blogging, although I think that companies are coming round to the idea that successful bloggers do indeed have an impact on their sales… Thanks so much for sharing it on Facebook!

      • I thought it was a very important post So often there’s a dividing line between parents and teachers when we’re all usually on the same side. You’ve done a great job of improving communication and helping parents have a better idea of how to approach teachers. They are usually their ally, not their foe. xx Rowena

  6. I love this. I work in a school, and though I’m not a teacher I am constantly baffled by parents’ attitudes to teachers and school in general. I always thing you get out what you put in. Now my daughter is at school I always try and make sure that I support the teachers as much as possible and remember that they are only human too!

    • Thanks Stacy! I think it’s really important that someone has a knowledge of the profession before they make judgements… I would never go to a doctor and tell them they’ve made the wrong diagnosis or they aren’t working hard enough!

    • Haha! I have thought about teaching in further education but I can’t deal with the idea of having to accept the same behaviour from two sets of adults – the students and their parents!

  7. Being the parent of a graduated senior this year and a soon to be done 6th grader I can safely say that I have run the gamut of teachers. I just sat down to write the principle of the high school an extensive letter detailing out the amazing teachers that have touched and inspired my oldest daughters life. They were a truly amazing team, that over the past four years have protected, encouraged, inspired and guided our daughter to make the choice of going to an amazing college and pursue a career in English/Drama as a teacher. Her guidance councilor I could do without EVER seeing that woman again, and have written a separate note stating that she will have NOTHING to do with my second child and I will go to the school board if I have to on this one.

    As a parent you hear the rumors, but I like to reserve judgement and I did with this woman to the determent of my daughters well being. That will not happen with the second child. PS many parents dislike her with a passion!!! As parents when there is a large group of parents ranging in grades that have an issue I wish Administration would listen to us…

    The same can be said of our 6th grader, last years teacher has a horrid reputation but I again reserved my own judgement. Not good, when it came to my childs mental well being… By the end of the school year she hated school, and was only going because of her specials teacher Mrs. C.

    Over all though school has been and continues to be an amazing experience for all of us. Teachers are amazing and I love it when one is open to being a part of the childs whole team ๐Ÿ™‚

    xoxoxo

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story with me – it’s so sad when a teacher has such a negative impact on a child’s mental state that they don’t want to go to school anymore! What was it about the guidance counsellor that was so bad?

  8. Sometime in the past forty years the tables have flipped. When I was growing up, parents stood on the side with teachers and the school unless a lot of evidence swayed them otherwise. If you got a reprimand at school, you automatically got a reprimand at home to go with it. Now I see so many parents run down teachers with their children, and take whatever their child says as the gospel. It is ridiculous!

    But that said, I have gone to see a vice principal and the principal on two occasions when my son was in school and I immediately felt angry and confrontational in their presence because THEY started the session speaking to ME with a tone of authority instead of a tone of cooperation. Like I was only there to hear how it was going to be, not to work with them to resolve an issue. Anyone who adopts a tone to talk down to me immediately looses my respect.

    Life & Faith in Caneyhead

  9. Thank you so much for posting this! I spent 5 years as a teacher and I can really relate to what you are saying. It would drive me nuts when parents would be more concerned that their child hasn’t had a full water bottle of a morning than the fact that they drink all their water so they can go to the loo and get out of maths!
    Sorry, went on a rant there….thanks again for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. This IS awesome!! I must show this to my son who is also a teacher. As for me I may think about that… What I would like to say about my profession This would make a great prompt!!

  11. After working in the school setting for 21+ years I can really say that everyone of these is so true. #7 spoke to me – when I left it seemed as if the parents wanted education spoon fed to their child and that’s not how it works. Nor should it work that way – what happened to curiosity, self reliance and good old fashion work. Thanks for sharing this really important post !! Visiting from the Sits Girls.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I think that’s one of the most frustrating thing I have found as a teacher – the constant neediness and total inability to take responsibility for their own learning. We’re producing entire generations of young adults who have no independence or initiative…

  12. My hubby works for the local school system so totally “get” the value of teachers…but I admit, even I’ve fallen into the trap mentioned in #2. Great post! Stopping by from SITS.

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