A few years ago I wrote a post titled 10 Things Every Teacher Wants You to Know (but won’t tell you). As a former first grade teacher, this post was written based on my experience in the classroom as well as feedback from my colleagues. Many readers commented on the original post that they would love to have a list for teachers as well. Their comments inspired me to write this post.
When I first started teaching, I was newly married and passionate about my students and my profession. I poured myself into the lives of my students…visiting their homes, going to sporting events on weekends, and tutoring after school. I absolutely loved being a teacher!
When my oldest son was born, I made the difficult decision to put my teaching career on hold to stay home with my babies. It is a decision I will forever be thankful for…even though I have missed my students terribly. As a mom of school-aged children, I now realize how difficult it is to be a parent! Although I felt like I was the best teacher I could be at that time, there are many things that I would do differently knowing what I do now. I am convinced that being a parent will ultimately make me a better teacher.
If you are a teacher reading this (whether you have children or not), I hope this will help to serve as inspiration for your parent communication in the coming school year.
Dear Teachers, Here are 10 Things Every Parent Wants You to Know…
1. I respect, appreciate, and support you.
As a former first grade teacher, I know that teaching is one of the toughest jobs there is yet it is also one of the most rewarding. I appreciate and respect all of the hard work and dedication that you demonstrate day after day, week after week, and month after month. My greatest desire is that we can work together hand-in-hand to help my child achieve amazing goals this year.
2. I am sending you my baby, my whole world.
Please understand that when I drop my child off for his first day of school, I might have a quivering lip and tear-filled eyes. After all, I remember the day he was born, I remember getting up with him in the middle of the night, I remember watching his first steps, and now he will be spending his days away from me. No matter how old he gets, it is still hard to watch him walk away from me and into his classroom. I hope you will not roll your eyes or think of me as overprotective or sappy. Recognize that my child means the world to me (and maybe even give me a hug). :)
3. My child is gifted.
No, I’m not talking about the giftedness that can be measured using a test. My child (and every single one of his peers) is uniquely gifted by God with talents, passions, and abilities that no other person on this earth has. Only God knows the special purpose He has designed specifically for him, but I hope you will enjoy watching that purpose unravel bit by bit, day after day, just like I do. I ask that you treat my child and every other child in his class as the unique child that he/she is and recognize that their strengths will each look different from the others.
4. I care just as much about how my child treats others as I do about what he is learning.
I want my child to learn how to add, subtract, and multiply. I want him to be a good reader with a curious, scientific mind. I want him to be able to learn about our Presidents and the impact war has had on our civilization. But most of all, I want my child to be a person of integrity. I want him to be honest and kind. I want him to treat others with respect and see the joy in the simple things of life. I know your day is busy and you already have more to teach than you have hours in the day, but I hope you will make time to affirm these critical aspects of my child’s development. We are the parents and this is ultimately our responsibility, but the more adults in his life that can model and teach these important character traits, the better!
5. I want to help.
We have already established that teaching is one of the toughest jobs. I would love to help in any way possible, whether that is helping in the classroom every now and then, supplying extra snacks, or doing small jobs at home. After all, cutting out laminating is the most monotonous job EVER for a teacher…but for a mom of littles it might just be cathartic. :) Feel free to ask me for help and know that I enjoy being able to invest my time and effort into the betterment of my child’s class!
6. Evenings are busy and family time is important, please keep that in mind when assigning homework.
Between attempting to have a family meal every night, sports, church, and any other extracurricular activities, our evenings can fill up quickly. School is, of course, very important (which is why he spends 7 hours with you), but the other aspects of his life are also important. If/when you do assign homework, please make it worthwhile and not just “busy work”.
7. I want to know my child’s strengths and weaknesses at school.
Chances are, I already know these things about my child…but communication is the key. I know you are busy, but please take a few minutes to let me know if there is a problem and likewise if there is something that he is doing extraordinarily well. As a parent, I am usually well aware of the weaknesses but it is always a pleasant surprise to be notified about the good things too! Talk to me about any issues before they get to be a major problem in the classroom. And if he is struggling in a subject, please tell me before big tests or report cards so that we can help him in every way possible.
8. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and I hope you will do the same for me.
We all have bad days, times where we react too harshly or don’t get everything accomplished. I promise to give you the benefit of the doubt when you are occasionally in a bad mood or impatient with my child. I get it. Being around kids all the time is exhausting. I also hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt when I occasionally don’t get field trip notes sent it on time or homework checked over every night. We are all doing the very best we can, right?
9. Please don’t take away recess as a punishment.
With expectations of students higher than ever, my child (and his classmates) need time to MOVE and burn off energy. Plus, they also need time to socialize and PLAY (even older kids). Chances are, you are going to have more behavior issues if you take recess away than if you find an alternative consequence. I would be happy to help brainstorm alternative punishments for my child.
10. I hope you will love my child, even when he/she might act unloveable.
I fully realize that my child is not perfect. After all, he is his mother’s son! There will be times when he might irritate you by asking too many questions or interrupting. He might have a hard time focusing or be a little bit too rambunctious. His behavior might not be ideal all of the time, but I ask that you choose to look for the good in him (and believe me, there is LOTS of good). You have the next 9 months of my child’s life to make a lifelong impression on not only his educational abilities but also his lifelong character. As hard as it may be, I hope you will love him and pour yourself into his life. After all, who knows what your love and encouragement could do for him? It might very well make all the difference in the path he chooses to take in his life!
Most of all, I want you to know that I am praying for you. God has placed my child in your class for a reason and I am excited to see how the year unfolds! It’s going to be a great one. Thank you for your dedication to educating my child! :)