1. We are on the same team – for real. I want what is best for your child. I want them to succeed. I gain nothing if they fail or are miserable all year. I want them to be happy, successful and love coming to school each day. Know that everything I do or don’t do has your child’s best interest at heart.
2. Tell me what is going on at home – Many times, changes in the home can cause a child’s behavior at school to change. This could be a birth, death, change in jobs, move, changes in the normal routine, etc. Now that doesn’t mean you need to send an email every time your child doesn’t get a good night’s sleep or every time they have a playdate or start a new sport. But if something major is happening, keep me updated so I can look for changes in your child and possibly help diffuse the situation by talking to him/her.
3. I will tell you if something major is going on with your child academically or behaviorally. I promise. The first few weeks – months even – are spent getting to know each other. Figuring out what level each child is at. What they are capable of. But I have 30 students that I need to do that for. I would have so many parents at open house want to have a discussion about their child’s progress. It is the second week of school. It is a success if I know all of their names and get them on the right bus at the end of the day. I am learning. I am figuring them out. Report card and conference time are when we can discuss more in depth what kind of progress your child has made. Parents would sometimes say at conferences – how come you didn’t tell me this sooner. Again – if it was major, I would have. I am obviously not overly concerned that they are getting confused when doing double digit addition for example. It is something we can continue to work on. Again, please remember that I have 30 students who are all important to me. I can’t contact parents after every assignment to let them know how their children are doing. But if a red flag goes up and I’m worried about the social emotional or academic progress of your child, you will know about it.
4. I will only believe half of what your child tells me about home if you only believe half of what they say happens at school. You have no idea the things your child tells their teacher or classmates. Some of the stories I have heard. Ohmygosh. You wouldn’t believe it. It is funny to hear a first or second graders interpretation of the world around them. But I know that they can overhear or see things and not really understand or repeat it the same way it was intended. I know this. I give you the benefit of the doubt. Please do the same for me. Your students may not hear or understand what I am doing in the classroom and have a misconstrued version of it to share.
5. If you have concerns about my classroom, please come to me about them. Not your neighbors, not the principal. Me. Nothing severs a relationship like going over someone’s head. I’m not saying there aren’t times when you should go to the principal. I’ve seen cases where parents have tried and tried with the teacher and have gotten nowhere…go to the principal with your concerns. Or if your concerns are on the bus or the playground or an area that is out of my jurisdiction, then go to the principal. But when my principal comes to me and says 'I’ve talked to so and so’s mom about x, y and z and they are wondering how you are going to handle it' and I can do nothing but give them this blank stare and say I’ve never talked to that mom about that. Well that is a frustrating feeling. Please talk to me about your concerns.
6. Trust me and get to know me – not the rumored version of me. Again, I have your child’s best interest at heart. Does that mean that he/she or you are going to like everything I do? No. But know that I am doing it out of love and because I know what your child needs to succeed in my class. Please hold back on judging me and instead get to know me. I know parents talk outside of school about their child’s teacher and that can be both positive and negative. Everyone’s experience is different. A teacher your neighbor’s child disliked might be your child’s favorite teacher. We are often quick to judge a teacher without really know him/her. “She doesn’t have kids so she doesn’t understand.” “She does have kids so she is going to be busy at home and not invested in my child.” “She’s young and has lots of good ideas.” “She’s pregnant so she is going to be checked out all year.” “She’s been teaching forever and doesn’t do anything new or fun.” “She’s new so she doesn’t have any experience.” “She’s strict.” It goes on and on. Sometimes teachers overhear these things when they aren’t supposed to. Sometimes they are said right to their faces. Just know that I am a person and I am working hard not to judge you and all I ask is you do the same. Figure me out for yourself.
7. Please make school a priority at home too. I know your nights are busy - baseball practice, dance class, Boy Scouts, etc. I was always aware of this and made it a point to not overload my second graders with homework. If they worked hard all day at school, then I was all about them being a kid at home and not having lots of homework. So know that if I send something home as homework, if unfinished work needs to be done, or if I ask your child to read or practice math facts, IT IS IMPORTANT. It isn't busy work. It is important practice. If you need suggestions of games or activities to play at home to help your child academically, just ask. Most teachers would be happy to send things home or direct you to some websites if you really plan to use them.
If you are a teacher, what would you want parents to know? If you are a parent, what do you want your child's teacher to know?