Education

What do teachers want parents to know?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this question recently. With the COVID-19 situation and being at home, I think there are a lot of things teachers wish parents knew. While I generally just wonder about a lot of things and don’t have many answers, I feel like I might have some answers to this.

First, teachers want parents to know that we do our very best each and every day. Most of us chose this job because it was a passion for us. We’ve all heard it said that “those you can’t, teach.” For the vast majority of us, this is simply the farthest thing from the truth. Most of us absolutely love our jobs, do it in spite of the low pay, and work way harder than most people realize. Sure, we have bad days and make mistakes, but those are few and far between.

Teachers want parents to know that we love your kid. I vividly remember the day I returned to my classroom after having my daughter. I looked out at my class and thought to myself, “These are all somebody’s babies.” The extreme love I felt for my own daughter was felt by all of the parents whose teenagers were sitting in my room that day. While I know there are incredible teachers who don’t have their own children, having my own children really helped me appreciate the gift that parents give me each day by sending their children to school. We teachers want parents to know that we do not take that lightly. We hurt when they hurt, we cry when they cry, we laugh when they laugh, and we rejoice when they rejoice.

Parents also need to know that teachers want to help their students learn skills for life, not just memorize the content we are teaching. We want our students to learn to be responsible, respectful, and cooperative with others. We want them to think about the content and apply it, rather than memorize facts in order to pass a test. We know that many of you are concerned about points and GPAs (which will likely be another post), but we also want your student to be able to thrive in the real world.

Teachers want parents to know that we worry about your children and their friends. We sometimes know things about them that you don’t: who their dating, what they do on the weekends, how they act when you’re not around, etc. We worry. We bring thoughts of them home with us each day after we leave the building. We go to sleep worrying about them. We wake up worrying about them.

Teachers want parents to know we appreciate your feedback. During our Open House this fall, I had a parent tell me that her daughter was concerned about my class. The daughter knew from what I had told the class that I was more focused on conceptual understanding than procedural memorization. She was anxious because I had said that I don’t teach in a traditional way. The last thing I wanted was for a student to be anxious, and I was so thankful to the parent for saying something! The student ended up doing a great job, but I was able to restate my intentions and keep an eye on her. Many students have an adjustment to my type of instruction, but they also learn very quickly that I am more than fair, extremely concerned about them and their learning, and will do whatever I can to help them succeed. I’ve also had parents tell me when their child loves my class or when they appreciate something I’ve done or said. All of that feedback is great for me to know and learn from!

This may seem really silly, but I think teachers want parents to know we truly appreciate any gifts or acknowledgments of thanks. I work hard to make sure my own children acknowledge their teachers at holidays, during Teacher Appreciation Week, and on their birthdays. My husband keeps telling me that our middle schooler is too old to be taking in gifts, but I’ll be doing things for her teachers until her high school graduation! High school teachers can often get overlooked. The size of the gift is irrelevant; its the gesture that means the most. Even a simple email or note from the parent or student can mean the world to us! I have a file folder labeled “Motivation” where I keep all notes from students and parents to look back at when I’m having a bad day.

If you’re a teacher, do you agree? What else do you want parents to know?

If you’re a parent, what questions do you have? What do you wish we would tell you?

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