Teachers have chosen to dedicate their professional lives to equipping our kids with the tools and skills to succeed in life. But, despite the hours every week that they spend with our children, teachers and parents are like two ships in the night, only meeting occasionally to discuss report cards.
I do my best to build some sort of relationship with my children’s teachers but what are the things they wish they could let parents know? Erin Guthrie has been teaching for 11 years, from first to ninth grades. I asked her to give us some inside info on being a teacher. Here’s what she has to say:
1. Teachers love what they do!
“Teachers loooooove the job. Yes, it’s stressful, but it’s wonderful at the same time. We are so, so dedicated to what we do – even borderline obsessed! Most of us get giddy when we walk into a school supplies store.”
2. Teachers truly want the best for our children.
“I’m sure everyone has said this, but we also really love kids. I sometimes wonder if parents know just how much we care. Obviously I don’t love them as much as their parents love them, but my ‘teacher love’ for them is fierce.
As teachers, we genuinely do want the best for their children. Every minute of my day is spent thinking about them: how can I get this child to read more?; Oh man! So-and-so would love this book!; Why isn’t this child performing at such-and-such level?; What can I change in my teaching to help him/her?; How can I help that child make friends or deal with social conflicts?
I want parents to feel they can trust that I’m doing my absolute best to guide their children.”
3. Parents can trust that there is thought behind a teacher’s methods and routines.
“Trust is a biggie. I’m struggling with it myself as a new mother. I constantly worry whether my son’s daycare teacher really is putting on his sunscreen. Trust that there’s a reason for the routines we have in the classroom. Trust that there’s a reason we teach a certain topic or in a certain way. We’re professionals and we know this stuff cold.
Teachers have the advantage of getting to know a specific age group very well. We know what is considered normal, unusual, and outstanding. Trust us when we think something is up with your child. We know what children in your child’s age group are normally capable of. ”
4. Teachers see a different side to your children – and that can be useful.
“Parents will say to me, ‘Ah, but you don’t know my child like I know my child.’ To that I say, ‘You are totally right . . . I know your child in a different way.’ Just like adults have a professional work persona that is different from the at-home-in-sweatpants persona, kids have a school persona that can be very different from the at-home persona. This is where conflict can arise, because these two personas can often be quite different. Teachers are often privy to a side parents don’t get to see, so they can offer valuable insight.
Our ideas/suggestions about your child might not always align with yours, but that doesn’t mean they are incorrect, or dishonest. Open communication is essential between parents and teachers; that way we can have a better understanding of the child as a whole.”
5. Teachers are happy to meet and talk with parents.
“If you have questions about something that happened in class that day, just get in touch, and don’t wait: the sooner the better! If you want to talk to a teacher, the best way is to make an appointment so we can have a proper discussion about your concerns. As much as we’d love to, we don’t have ‘just 5 minutes to chat’ about your child, and five minutes is probably not enough to give the situation justice. The school day is hectic and jam-packed from the minute we arrive to the minute we leave. There really is no free time. Preps, recess, lunch – they are all booked, and normally not with relaxation in mind.”