Teachers spend a lot of time preparing and teaching class. Normal workdays last far beyond school hours especially when parents are calling and e-mailing questions, concerns and complaints. Perhaps the day might run smoother if parents took a few key points to heart.
Key Points to Remember
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 five things teachers really want parents to know to help make the educational experience run a little smoother.
One: Teachers and Parents are on the Same Team
Teachers want parents to know that they're on the same team. Teachers want their students to succeed just as much as the parents do. Teachers are not here to make a student's life miserable or give out assignments that are so difficult that students can't complete them. Much of the curriculum used in the classroom is chosen by the school and not the teacher. Teachers do their best to implement strategies to aid and encourage students through their coursework and studies. A teacher's goal is for all students to succeed. No teacher wants to see their students struggle, become discouraged, or even be held back a year. Like parents, teachers want students to feel good about themselves, their work, and their accomplishments in school.
Helping parents understand they are on the same team as the teacher can begin with basic communication. This may be a challenge at times for teachers and parents. Here are a few suggestions for starting up the line of communications or even learning to handle parents that are difficult to talk to.
- Write a teacher introduction letter
- Ask parents questions to start conversations
- Ways to deal with difficult parents
Two: Teachers Need the Parent's Help
Teachers need parents to work alongside them and not against them. Teachers rely on parents to help provide backup and follow-up instruction at home and outside of the classroom. For example, students may be struggling at school but they hide it from the teacher and pretend everything is OK. However, when they get home they have a complete mental breakdown and stress over the pressure of completing assignments and their inability to understand the material. Parents shouldn't assume the teacher is aware of the situation but should talk with the teacher instead. Once the teacher is aware of what's happening at home, he or she can take necessary steps to assist the student at school and make special arrangements for extra time and help on certain projects and assignments. Working together makes things easier for the parent, the teacher and most importantly the student.
Three: 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. If a note is sent in or an e-mail is written, please give the teacher time to read it and respond. More often than not the teacher is receiving at least 20 or so similar e-mails or notes. It's impossible to run a classroom, educate students, and immediately respond to messages within a single day. 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.
Four: 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.
At the same time, parents should also be careful not to label their child as 'smart' or 'a genius' when it comes to praising their hard work. Psychologists believe that kids who are told they are smart often take on the mindset that because they're smart they can do anything, which is great until they mess up. When children make mistakes they may then take on the thinking that they are no longer smart and that can create anxiety and stress especially when they begin to wonder what their parents will think now that they're not smart. Avoid these terms and instead praise your children in a way that motivates them to want to reach even higher by taking on even more challenging projects and assignments.
Five: The Home is a Classroom Too
While teachers are responsible for educating students in a broad variety of subjects like math, science, and history, 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.