Hello, again! Today’s topic is teachers. I have known and worked with many teachers of all levels. Their work is the foundation of all our success. Teachers are long-suffering, with a special sense of purpose. A teacher is expected to be an event planner, entertainer, educator, counselor, nurse, artist, engineer, scientist, researcher, writer and coach. The job they do is difficult, and is often made more so because there is a general misunderstanding about who teachers are and what they do every day. Below is a list of 10 things that your child’s teacher wishes they could tell you…if they only could.
- I need you on my team. I need to know that when your child is having trouble at school, they are going to get the support or discipline at home that is needed to back me up. I can’t succeed in what I do if I don’t have your full support.
- I want to help your child gain self-confidence, not give them self-esteem. Children need to struggle and learn how to use hard work to overcome difficult tasks and situations. It won’t make your child a better student if I tell them that they can do anything, and that they are good enough. Because the truth is, they can’t do anything, but they can do many things, and they can always improve.
- Time at school is important. If you have trouble getting your child to school on time on a regular basis, figure out a way to get out of the house earlier. And while I probably won’t say no, I wish you wouldn’t take your child out of school early or for a day because you have work to do at home, company is coming, or it’s a special day. In the real world, we don’t get to leave work because there is laundry to do, our in-laws are coming, or it’s our birthday. School is your child’s job.
- I don’t “give” grades. When you see a letter or a number on your child’s paper, that is the grade he or she earned by the quality of work and the extent of mastery. If you think it is too low, confront your child, not me.
- I care a lot more about your child than you realize. My heart breaks when he is hurt or sad; I am deeply interested in her dreams and aspirations; I cry at the end of each school year when the children leave; I will remember and think about your child 20 years from now.
- I am not going to change my curriculum and expectations to fit your child’s extra-curricular pursuits. I am glad that your child plays 2 instruments and 3 sports, if that’s what they really love. But school should be their priority. I am not going to be okay with it if your child is on the all-star team, but never turns in homework and is often late to school. Most children will drop out of sports somewhere between middle school and college. But they will always need to know how to learn.
- I like nice gifts, but they’re not really important. I won’t treat your child differently if you buy me nice gifts at holidays, and I enjoy getting drawings and things made by your child just as much. You should see the box of mementos I have! They are what I really treasure.
- I expect more from your child than he thinks he can achieve. I will push her and stretch her, but I will never ask her to do something she is incapable of. And while we’re on the topic of achievement, keep in mind that when your child brings home an 80% or a B, that’s okay. It means that he or she has sufficiently mastered the material to move on to the next level or concept. It is never my goal for my student to get 100’s all the time.
- I know a lot more about you than you think! It is amazing what kids feel free to share about what goes on at home. You might want to consider a) teaching your child what is okay to share outside the home, and b) making sure that you don’t discuss things around your child that you wouldn’t want them repeating.
- Relationships between children are not always perfect. Just because another child does not get along with your child does not mean he or she is a bully. Bullying is a systematic thing. Kids can hate each other without bullying. It’s okay if your child is not friends with everyone in his or her class. And while we’re talking about this: It’s not my job to make friends for your child. I can encourage friendships, but if kids don’t have things in common or don’t get along, I can’t force it. In the real world no one makes our friends for us, and we don’t get along with everyone we know.
And here’s a bonus – 5 Things You Can Do To Make a Teacher’s Job Easier:
- 1. Pack your child healthy foods. Even things that claim to be healthy can be full of sugar. Water is the best drink, high-protein foods like dairy, nuts and lean meat are the best foods, and vegetables and whole fruits should be a daily inclusion. Candy, pastries, juice or other sweets should rarely make it in a lunch box. Your child does not need a special treat in his or her lunch every day.
- 2. Keep birthdays low-key. Your child’s birthday is not a national holiday. I love it when you send/bring cupcakes, muffins, cookies or other treats. But please don’t expect me to take 30 minutes out of my already packed day to celebrate your child. Do something great for them at home!
- 3. Monitor neatness and hygiene, and teach your child good habits. Clean clothes, not fashionable ones, make a child look put-together. You don’t need to style your child’s hair, but brushing or combing should not be optional. And make sure your child gets in the habit of brushing his or her teeth before leaving for school. You might be surprised how awful a little kid’s breath can be!
- 4. Avoid wardrobe changes. I know children’s clothing can be expensive. I know you want to make them last as long as possible. And I know you want your child to look nice at school – I appreciate that! However, when your daughter needs to change her cute skirt for jeans at recess, or son needs to trade his leather Oxfords for sneakers, it wastes precious learning moments. The best bets for school clothes – if your child doesn’t wear a uniform – are neat jeans, layered shirts and athletic shoes.
- 5. If your child is sick, keep him or her home. I know you don’t want to take a sick day from work, but it really is the best thing. If you send your child to school, you risk getting 20 other children and me sick. One of your sick days is not worth that. And I hate to say it, but it’s is usually much harder for me to take a sick day than it is for people in other professions. I have to find someone who can teach my class and make new lesson plans that they can follow. It’s often more stressful than the sickness.
I hope you will take some time this week to thank your child’s teacher (or even your childhood teacher!) and let them know how much you appreciate all their hard work. Most teachers love what they do, and the growth in their students is a great reward, but they would never pass up an opportunity to hear some well-earned gratitude!