Students spend a large portion of their day with their teachers — almost as much time as they spend with their parents. It stands to reason, then, that teacher-parent communication is critical to a child’s success in school and beyond. Unfortunately, career and life often keep teachers and parents from communicating as often as necessary. To help bridge the communication gap, I have asked a handful of teachers to share the things they wish parents understood the most.
“I want parents to know that their kids’ perceptions of education/school/learning are heavily influenced by them, the parents. If parents emphasize the importance of education, the kids will see it as important. If parents have the attitude that ‘math is useless’ or ‘teachers are stupid’ — even if the parents think they don’t voice these views in front of the kids — kids WILL echo or mirror their parents’ sentiment. If parents make homework, schooling, learning, and yes, even grades a priority, our job as teachers is more rewarding. It’s hard to play to a crowd who just doesn’t want to be there or who doesn’t see the value of a good education.”-Pam, High School English Teacher
“I think it’s important for them to have an open mind and understand that despite what their teens tell them, we truly have their best interest in mind and are not the bad guys. When they come into a parent/teacher conference, they come in on the defense right away, and that makes for a hostile environment. Look at all sides before judging.” -Erin, High School History Teacher
“I want parents to know that learning is supposed to be challenging, and that if their child has to work hard, that’s actually a good thing. Too often, it seems parents believe A grades are for those who try when As are for those who try and fail and try again. Sadly, it seems more parents would rather enable their child and blame the teacher or educational system for their child’s simple lack of effort.” –Miranda, High School Literature Teacher
“Students have to experience natural consequences in order to learn and grow, EVEN IF they have a disability. Parents can’t constantly rescue their kids if they expect them to gain the skills for themselves. If a student doesn’t write down an assignment and therefore doesn’t do it until after it’s entered into the grade book, they should have to take the zero or the late grade to teach them the importance of writing things down. If they are working and it just takes them longer, that is another issue. Let your students develop some self-advocacy; help them if you need to, but don’t do it for them.” -Lindsay, High School Special Education Teacher
“We do actually really care about their kids. We are just as vested in their education and are upset when they don’t do well and are so excited when they do.” -Danielle, High School Science Teacher
“With each passing year of experience, I more often tell parents, ‘Just love and support your child with very few, firm rules in place.’ Teens have so many issues to think about and are going through so many physical, emotional, and social changes that the last thing they need is to think their parents are angry with them all the time…. How does this affect learning? How could it not?…Empathize and sympathize and enforce the fact that they can make many of their own decisions, but they will have to deal with the outcomes. However, make it known that you’ll love them through it all.” -Renee, High School Special Education Teacher
“I want parents to know that one of the best things they can do for their children is to hold them accountable. I also expect them to hold me accountable as the teacher, in the same way I hold them accountable as the parents. That accountability has to be respectful, though. In that way, parents and teachers can have a cooperative relationship and can make decisions based on the best interests of the children.” -Amber, High School Math Teacher
“Two of the things I want parents to know are: 1. I know that they have the hardest job in the world and that they are doing their best; and 2. I feel privileged to be able to spend time with their child during this time in her/his life. It is an honor.” -Roxanne, High School English Teacher
“I want parents to know many things: 1. Teaching your child to be organized is one of the best things you can do to help him/her; 2. I need your input and feedback. I always have good intentions. Sometimes they are misunderstood because I don’t have a clear picture. I want you to share relevant information about your child with me; 3. I really like my job. Some days are harder than others; 4. I really appreciate hearing when you are pleased about something; 5. Feedback from high school graduates is really helpful; 6. Every situation or lesson will not be perfect for all students; 7. The greatest gift I ever got was a bottle of water and a coffee card at parent/teacher conferences.” –Melissa, High School French Teacher
BIO: Lola Lolita runs SammichesPsychMeds.com and plays on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Hobbies include introverting, determining how cheap the wine has to be before she can’t tolerate it, and trying to sleep while thinking about that one embarrassing thing she did in high school.