I’ve been teaching for twelve years, but this is my first year as a parent on the other side of the fence. Every teacher can relate to the sentiment, “Do not be THAT parent.” I was adamant that I would not be that parent when my daughter started school. The parent that complains about everything or questions the teacher’s decisions. I certainly would not be the parent who undermines the teacher if my child came home with a negative report.
Now that I am learning my new role, I thought it would be helpful to share with other parents how to proactively help the teacher. I promise you that if you are not a teacher, you have NO IDEA how hard this job is. You may think you have an idea, but multiply that by ten. There are endless responsibilities, paperwork, decisions, and small tasks that are all simultaneously occurring at once. Please do not add dealing with a negative parent to that overwhelming list.
If you are concerned about something happening in the classroom, ask the teacher. Be careful not to accuse or demand answers. Politely ask the teacher and listen to the response. Take into consideration all that is happening in the school day. Is your concern major or insignificant? Consider this before adding another thing to the to-do list.
NEVER EVER e-mail an administrator about a concern before talking to the teacher first.
Imagine if someone called your boss before speaking to you. I promise you that your teacher has your child’s best interest at heart. I don’t know a single teacher who does not love children. If you have a question or concern, talk to the teacher. If the administration needs to get involved afterward, that’s a decision you have to make. However, give your child’s teacher the respect of talking to them first. There is a chain of command. Please follow it.
Teachers do not expect gifts, although they are so greatly appreciated. If you are choosing to buy a gift for your child’s teacher, do all teacher’s a favor and pass on the mug, hand lotion, fancy pen, and cute teacher sign. We promise you we already have 50.
A handwritten note of gratitude is more than enough. A picture or drawing from your child is a beautiful way to show appreciation. However, if you want to show your child’s teacher appreciation with a gift, I am speaking for all teachers when I say gift cards are always the way to go!
Get involved! Play an active role in your child’s education. Sign up to be a mystery reader. Attend the book fair. Sign up for the PTO/A! Parents are always welcome to participate and be involved in their child’s learning. Your child and teacher will thank you.
For parents of small children, please check their backpack and folder every single night. Often we find old food, notices from weeks prior, and garbage shoved inside backpacks. Folders are a great communication tool. Your child’s teacher is taking time to create and put notes inside of your child’s folder. Please take the time to check the folder and empty all student work.
Talk positively about school to your child. Your attitude about school will permeate onto your child. If they hear you talking positively about school, their perspective will be that school is a happy, nurturing, and fun place. That includes talking positively about their teacher.
Give back! Your child’s teacher is giving all they have to your children. Give back. I can guarantee you that the teacher themselves purchased 90% of the things you see in your child’s classroom. Teachers do not get paid well. On top of it, they are spending HUNDREDS of dollars each year to educate your child.
Therefore, what’s a box of tissues, pencils, or play dough here or there to help out the class? Please do not wait for your child’s teacher to ask. Most will not feel comfortable doing so. Instead, offer to help. You may say to the teacher, “I’d like to purchase supplies for your classroom. What do you need?” Or just tell the teacher that you are putting supplies in your child’s backpack for the class to use. I promise the gratitude will be far beyond the expense.
You will not agree with everything. That’s OK. Teach your child that we may not like everything, but that is a part of life. Responsibilities are responsibilities. When they have a boss, they will not have the option to opt-out of jobs or requirements.
Most of all, support your child’s teacher. Tell them often they are doing amazing. Tell them you appreciate them. Lend a hand, a donation, or your time.