Getting ready to go back to school is usually comprised of a flurry of activities, purchases, rearranging schedules and the constant draw to spend one more lazy day at the beach, one more evening of stargazing and possibly on last little road trip before the inevitable.
But what about teachers and their dog days of summer? There are hundreds of websites offering tips, tricks, checklists, guides, idea books, etc. all geared toward getting prepared to welcome back hordes of young minds and bodies ready to engage in the art of distraction, bursting with energy and excitement; and far more interested in seeing friends, sharing stories of summer adventures and basically doing anything and everything but paying attention.
So, I began to wonder, how does a teacher prepare for the onslaught? We all know that summertime is catch up time for teachers. Part time jobs, often involving teaching, consume most summer months, and yet there they are on that first day; smiles at the ready, sparkly WELCOME signs on the blackboards, checklists complete and ready to engage the “wildebeests” now bouncing up and down in their chairs.
I am not quite sure how they accomplish this feat, year after year, day in and day out, but they do. At least some do. Actually, more than half of those teaching this year for the first time, will be gone in five years or less. Frustrated by low pay, lack of resources and the intense emphasis over “passing” rather than “learning” are the reasons stated from one end of the country to the other.
The job is tough. The job is far from over when the students leave for the day and the testing!! Government requirements dominate the landscape, making certain the students are learning what they should, that the teachers are following the lesson plans, that all the myriad criteria set up to ensure quality education, seems to get in the way of actual teaching.
With all these challenges facing our teachers and considering the importance of the jobs they do, what role do we as parents and grandparents have in the educational process? Greatschools.org has a list of suggestions as to how we can support and partner with the brave souls teaching our children.
Help the teacher get to know your child. Mark Condon says, “During the first week of school, tell the teacher about your child as a person-her likes and dislikes, strengths and weakness, general personality traits, and your vision for your child in the future.
Be collaborative. Patti Maddox tells us, “We look at this as a partnership, with the goal being to have our son succeed at education. We ask the teachers to tell us what we can do to assist them.”
Communicate, communicate, communicate! Whether it’s by email, phone, notes, or in person, our parent advisors make an ongoing effort to stay in touch with their children’s teachers.
Be even-tempered. Mary Peitso advises, “Don’t try to lay blame on anyone. Attempt to deal with the issues at hand in a non-adversarial manner.”
Put it in writing. Susan Morgan and her husband have found that the best way to partner with their daughter’s teachers is “to put everything in writing and to document requests, questions, and notes”
Join forces to help your child get organized. Together, you and your child’s teachers can help your child get organized.
Participate in the classroom. S. Barend advises, “Taking interest beyond your child helps foster a good relationship with the teacher. Nothing is a substitute for being in the classroom.”
Sweeten the relationship. Susan Weans suggests, “Show teachers that you are grateful. Buy them presents and cards. Ask them — sincerely — how they are. Give them things to pamper themselves.”
Stretch the teacher’s awareness of learning and attention problems. Teachers have a lot on their plates each day, especially general education teachers, who have to cover a curriculum with all kinds of learners.
Know your rights and responsibilities. “The very best thing any parent of a child with special needs can do,” says Patti Maddox, “is learn the rules and laws that govern the schools. Find out what are the school’s responsibilities — and then make sure you understand your own responsibilities.”
For more information on how you can support your child’s learning experience visit https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/partnering-with-your-childs-teacher/or there is a link on our website. Just click on the cartoon.
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