10 Thoughts a Teacher Hopes All Parents Know

In my 15+ years of teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students, I tried to keep a very complicated system as simple as possible. We kept our standards high and did our best to reach them. I only asked one simple question to determine the success of my students and their efforts….”Are you PROUD?”

Whether I was talking with the smartest kid in class, or the one who struggled the most, this one question was all I could ask for from each and every student. There is a connection when you look a student in the eye and ask this one question that any standardized testing will never be able to capture. Let’s remember that every student is an individualized learning anomaly. As parents, it is hard to keep an open mind when your child is grouped with his or her peers and is struggling in comparison. However, just like learning to walk, each child is able to rise on their own 2 feet when their mind and body are ready to do so. The main objective for both parent and teacher is to be a great supportive net to help each and every child when they are ready, and be there to support them in good and bad times.

With that being said, I always wanted my students’ parents to know 10 things when their child was in my care:

1. Your child does not treat me as they do you. You are their parent and they will test you 100 times more.  Don’t get me wrong, they will also test me in the classroom (it is a part of growing up), however, I have the power of peers, the Principal, and you on my side. If you teach your children to be respectful, chances are they are being respectful!

2. In Elementary School, your child will tell lots of stories of what goes on at home! We only believe half of what they say, but the question is what half do we believe?? 🙂

3.  I am not perfect. I, too, will make mistakes. I am sorry. If there is a problem, please approach me with a mindset of what is best for your child, and don’t hold it against me. (Remember I know we are both not perfect- see #2!)

4. Your child’s education is not about you and any embarrassment you may have. I simply want what is best for your child to be successful. This may mean being honest with your child. There is nothing wrong with being honest about negative behaviors you are observing with your child as long as you reassure them you are there to support. Please work with me if I approach you. I am doing so to help your child, not to inconvenience you.

5. Most important- Stop focusing on getting Straight A’s!! This is propaganda being pushed by society. If your child gets a C, it does not mean they are failing, it means they were average. There is nothing wrong with having a goal of A’s, but getting some B’s and C’s in 4th grade will NOT stop your child from getting accepted into Harvard as you may have planned. I do not give out grades, your child earns them. Be PROUD of a “hard earned C”, because it is better than an “easy A”!

6. Elementary School is NOT as easy as you remember it. Sure adding and subtracting is easy for you now, but can you find the mean, mode and median? How about naming the parts of a plant cell? Indirect objects? Prepositional Phrases? How about labeling all 50 States and their Capitals? Trust me, your child is not struggling to frustrate you. Take a deep breathe, remain calm, and listen. (Remember that I have to do this with 25+ students everyday!) Frustration is a fine line- It is good cause it means they still CARE and desire to be better! However,  you have to be careful, because the next step is to quit. Make sure your child knows “You are not allowed to quit!” No matter how frustrated they are, let them know you care too and will help or get help for them!

7. The most important skills your child needs to learn in Elementary school are- Study Skills! From flash cards, to note taking, your child must learn to study for Secondary and Post Secondary years. Especially keep an eye on your child if they are a straight A student- as elementary school may be too easy, but eventually the subject matter will become increasingly difficult and they will be ill-prepared to study and ill-equipped to handle failure.

8. Don’t compare your child’s learning to any other child’s learning. For both success and struggle, asking your child to be like another child is just wrong. Keep it focused on what your child can accomplish. Forming better study habits or asking for help, are reachable tasks that can help a C student shoot for a C+ or B on the next test/report card. If you know your child has worked hard, be proud, show encouragement and your child will continue to put forth the effort and blossom!

9. Don’t compare me to any other teacher your child has had, or will have. We, like the students, are unique in our own ways and styles of teaching. What makes this great is that it mimics the real world where your child must adapt to others in leadership. From colleagues to the boss, your child must use the experience of school to help adapt into the workforce. Social Skills are important to learn during these years, so empower your child by allowing them to handle their issues. Your support is important, but your personal involvement should be the last option.

10. Lastly, but most importantly, I care for your child as if they are my own (In my mind, they are a part of my family and always will be). I have but 180 days to instill a passion to be a life long learner and empower them to chase their dreams. It is NEVER about straight A’s, but rather taking steps forward, no matter how small. Failure is NOT an option.  I will be there to help out even when they have moved on to higher grades if ever needed.  I am just a phone call or email away, for help, or simply to update me!

Just like every other profession out there, 10% are bad teachers. Unfortunately you will have to experience one or two educating your child. Use it as a learning experience in adapting to make the most of a bad situation (for you and your child), and never hold it against your next teacher! Do what you need to support your child and document everything!  Lastly, if your child is struggling and you feel there is something wrong, ask for your child to be tested. Document all of your worries and things you see, approach your teacher, and don’t stop until you see results. Lastly- remember to “Thank a Teacher” when you appreciate the work they are doing. At a time of teacher evaluations based on standardized tests, government mandates, and the norm of teacher bashing, a simple handshake or a note is priceless in uplifting the spirit of a teacher.

To all of the parents whose children are now considered “my kids” also, I thank you!  Thank you for your support. Thank you for your input. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your efforts. I did my best everyday to be a positive influence on the students.  I am proud to say that your children have had as much of a positive influence on me!

Don’t forget to Follow, Like, and Share the message! Thanks!

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25 thoughts on “10 Thoughts a Teacher Hopes All Parents Know

  1. What a wonderful post. I agree with everything you have said here and wish administrators would spread this message to the school community. I find so many of them lack the…fortitude…to stand up to parents and say, “This is what is best for our students.” Instead they run around changing the rules every time a parent complains. Out of curiousity, what is your new career?

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    1. Thank you for your response, and feel free to share! My new career, in short, is to consult with school districts about moving to technology with the big picture in mind. To simply say we are buying 1000 iPads is not making a 21st Century Classroom. We must take a look at what the vision is 5-10 years down the road and match the devices and content to its user case scenario. Most schools must slow down, and plan properly, so they can maximize their investments.

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    2. What a great job and so necessary. I know my school just purchased 10 new iPads. They did this without making a plan for any iPad training for staff. I am one of the most tech-savvy peope in the building and I don’t know anything about iPads. These nice new tablets are now going to sit, collecting dust, while we figure out how to use them. Oh, and once we figure out how, they need we need to figure out WHY. “Match the device and content to its user case scenario” – so true. Best of luck with your new career.

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  2. Oh that every child could be so blessed as to have such an understanding and caring and dedicated teacher!!!! Wise beyond just the norm. God bless him n so many more like him and may their example cause their tribe to multiply!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!! 🙂

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  3. Nice blog post! Two comments. On Item #5, regarding straight A’s, I agree and wish that it were that simple. In our community, the issue is not Harvard, it’s getting into a good high school. We have three kinds of high schools here: Good public high schools that are hard to get into; good private high schools where there is a range of abilities, but you do need reasonably good grades and deep pockets; and bad, frightening high schools that are easy to get into. If you don’t have the money for the private high schools, you really HAVE to get those As, which sucks for struggling learners.

    And #7, Study Skills. I totally agree! I just wish most schools spent more time teaching study skills to kids. As you pointed out my child will challenge me 100 times more than he’ll challenge you. If I say it’s a good idea to use flash cards, it can be a major struggle to get him to actually make and use them. If teachers throughout elementary school assigned aspects of study skills (in place of, not on top of the already large amount homework), students (and teachers!) would be far better off!

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Every situation is different, however, I would say that if all stakeholders were consistent with grading and making “C” average, then the students will still rank in the same order. However, you will no longer be placing a “struggling” student (who was just given an “A” to be nice) into a situation that he/she is prepared for. By giving a high mark just to get into a “Harvard” School, you are then placing the student into an environment they will be unprepared for. If all students were being placed into the right environment to be taught at their level, there would be no need for the fake competition to be placed in the top schools. The focus should be to empower students to be successful by meeting them at their level and inspiring forward progress.
      As for study skills, or anything else, we must all work together for the benefit of the student. Teachers have obligations that they must fulfill and can’t be the ones who do it all. Parents must step up and take responsibility for their children also. It would be nice to see study skills incorporated into assignments, and many teachers do, however, it is still up to the student to have the desire and will to learn. We must remember that in the end it is up to the student to want to be educated and it has to work for them. Flash cards may have been great for you, but remember that it may not be good for your son. He may actually hate taking the time to construct them because he feels they are of no help. Students find it more helpful to have options to choose what works best for them. Maybe taking notes in an outline form is best for him? Maybe folding paper in half- questions on outside, answers on inside- is best. Many students end up hating flash cards because no one taught them to split the pile of cards as they study them. Instead of studying 100 cards, they can dilute the pile by eliminating the ones they know into a separate pile. This allows them also to build confidence in seeing that they are learning and concentrating and repeating the ones they do not know.
      Sorry I rambled on, habit of helping. I wish you and you kids the best.

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  4. You and I share such similiar philosophies that I almost felt as if I were reading my writing. I teach third, fourth, and fifth graders using our Technology Lab. Thank you for sharing; reading it became a validating experience for me. At my biological children’s parent-teacher conferences, my first comment after greeting the teachers is to tell them that I am not interested in what letter grade is on the report card and my first question is do they feel my “biologicals” are being challenged and putting forth their best effort. This mindset is where I feel education and parenting should focus.

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  5. I am so impressed with this message. Maybe because it is how I was taught and raised. As parent, I have tried to instill, not just through education, but, throughout life this same message.

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    1. Thank you so much for this great post! I was a classroom teacher for 41 years and this perfectly echoes my sentiments about education, I taught 4th, 5th, 6th, and kindergarten. For the last 5 years I have been substitute teaching in all grades. Children and society have changed, but your thoughts are still needed in today’s world. Parents definitely need this message,but so do those in federal, state, and local positions who make the laws and set the standards for education! Children are humans, not products on a production line!

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    2. Thanks, I had great role model teachers who put in 35+ years and I would have loved to follow in those footsteps. Unfortunately, like you said, Society has changed and adding to my 15+ years will have to wait.

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  6. As a parent and former teacher, I am so thankful to see others with this attitude toward teaching. It should never be about the grades, but about the knowledge. What your children learn, is so much more important than a test score. Thank you for making such a positive contribution to the next generation.

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    1. Unfortunately after dedicating 15+years in teaching, family circumstances have led me to another career path. I did not hand this out to my parents, however, these were messages that I tried to make clear to all of them during our talks (Back to School Night, Conferences, etc).

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  7. I absolutely loved reading this. You sound like you were an amazing teacher. I wish I had a teacher like you, because I relhate to number seven.
    Thanks for this !

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  8. As a mum to two boys, who has experienced excellent and incredibly poor teaching, I just wanted to commend you for your attitude! Your students (and parents) are very lucky to have you 🙂

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  9. Yes yes yes on #7. That was me. I was SO unprepared when 9th grade hit. And I was slammed with feelings of failure, ineptitude, and thinking I was just wasn’t smart anymore. When I came home with my first (and thankfully, only) D on my report card, I just didn’t even know what to do about it. I had zero study skills, because I’d never needed to study before….and it wasn’t until college that I really had it figured out fully and began to regain confidence in my own abilities.

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    1. I am glad to hear that you were able to learn and regain your confidence. So many of our kids never are able to recover, and become a negative to society because of the way we treat them. It is so hard to find your way once you are lost, especially if everyone else is not lending a helping hand.

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  10. Ms. Sara- while I struggle with names and faces, as soon as I saw your name, I recognized it! I am flattered to hear that my messages and passion reach outside the walls of the classroom. I have had many colleagues that shared the same passion and we all transcended into each others classrooms. VMES was a special building with great teachers. You were, and I am sure still are a unique individual with so much to give to this world. I hope things are going well for you.

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  11. I am proud to have known you! Back in VMES! While you were not “my assigned teacher” you still taught me quite a lot of life lessons I will not forget!

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