Parent-teacher relationships can be difficult. When the kids are young, you are dealing with the fact that you are suddenly trusting their care to a complete stranger. When they are older, you are managing multiple parent-teacher relationships, which can quickly begin to feel like a juggling act. Because of these dynamics and all the variables at play, it can be easy to get things wrong.
To help you get things off to a good start this school year, here are 6 things teachers want parents to know.
Every parent wants their child to excel in school and in life, but the truth is that not every child can be above average—that is why it is above average. A B, or even a C, does not mean the teacher is being too harsh or that your child isn’t learning; it simply means your child’s performance wasn’t in the top 10 percent. And that is okay.
As a parent, you want to know how your child is doing at all times. However, contacting the teacher too often just turns you—and possibly your child by association—into a burden. Teachers teach for the majority of the school day, often getting just a small amount of time to plan, have department meetings, and eat. Then they need to use their personal time to finish their plans, complete their grading, fill out paperwork, complete progress reports, and answer parent and other contact. It is not unusual for a teacher to put in 12-hour days throughout the school year, with some days running even longer. Check in on occasion, but do not add to their load on a regular basis.
When parents get upset, they often skip speaking to the teacher and instantly go to the principal. This is problematic in many ways. First of all, it eliminates the chance for your child to work with you to resolve the conflict directly; children need to learn how to solve problems with people directly. Second of all, it is insulting to the teacher, implying that they are too unfair or biased to be able to work with you. Finally, it forces administrators to take on problems that are not severe enough to warrant their attention and takes them away from other matters. Always start with the teacher, then work your way up the chain of command as needed.
But many schools and districts demand that we assign it. The research shows that homework hurts learning and hurts families—and teachers know this. However, homework is part of the tradition of school and many schools and districts struggle to let go of this. Just know that when you are frustrated with it, the teacher is feeling the same way.
This is especially true with younger children. You might remember this being a big deal during the DeVos confirmation hearing, but you might not quite understand what it is about. In essence, your child may not be proficient in something, but so long as there is growth, your child is making progress that is to be celebrated. Do not beat yourself, your child, or the teacher up if your child isn’t quite there yet; progress is progress.
Every teacher has been in a parent meeting where they are explaining the problematic behavior of a child only to be met with, “Well, my child doesn’t do that at home.” This implies that the teacher is lying, but the reality is you both are likely telling the truth. When a kid is in a room with 20 or more other kids the same age, things change. Trust that the teacher is being honest.