Parents hear the needs of schools and educators all of the time, trust me, I am one of both. However, teachers and schools often fail to hear the parent’s voice. I do not know how many, countless hours are spent with parents emailing, calling and sending notes to teachers, without responses or adequate information, being relayed back to the parent. It is frustrating. Thus, I have compiled a list of common complaints that I hear parents making- myself included- and what teachers/schools can do to aid and/or avoid these issues.
1. Trust the parent’s instinct. There are a lot of proactive, involved parents that really do know their children. As a teacher, I can attest that we fall into heuristics- completing the same actions and equating similar arguments to actions that we have heard/seen in the past- too often. Because of these heuristics, we ignore well- intentioned and informed parents, until we see the very things that the parents warned us. As a parent, I am sick of being on the warning end of this stick, and being ignored by teachers. For once, schools and educators can take us on our word, and try to avoid the behaviors that we know will occur.
2. Understand that we really mean well, even when we seem to get on your nerves the most. As an educator, I have seen my fair share of parents who hover over their children. These parents often impede the progress that a school can make with a student. Teachers- in particular- find it very difficult to deal with these kinds of parents because they try to monopolize our time, a lot. The unfortunate side to this coin is that parents are right to be advocates for their children. No one will love, support and try to ensure the best for that child, like the child’s parent will. Therefore, educators please do not become sensitive and agitated by our constant questioning, weekly emails/ check- ups for progress and general concern for our children. We know that your time is precious but, every parent in your class is not doing what we do. If this were true, you would have time to complain back to us that you cannot email/answer us all of the time. (Get my picture?)
3. Please do not give our children false praise. Ok, this is a hot button issue for many educators. Educators are stuck between, not wanting to “hurt the feelings” of a student and doing what they may think is right. For example, many elementary schools practice good citizenship. Students are given stickers, stamps or smiley faces, to denote successful days at school. This is a great practice…when the student really deserves it. I have seen it- far too often- where teachers place those pretty little stickers/ smiley faces on the student’s daily report when in fact, that student did not deserve those praises because they did not complete expected tasks, had to be redirected several times, etc. Guess what teachers? You are sending mixed messages to more than the students; you are sending those same mixed message to parents. This is dangerous and sticky territory here. How can a parent effect positive change, when they are under the guise that all is well? After all, you did send the smiley face or sticker home in the folder. Be consistent. We want to back you up, but we cannot do this if you confuse us on the child’s progress- lack thereof.
4. Keep a log of what happens in the class and contact parents sooner, rather than later. Child psychology states that in order for punishments to be effective, they must be logical and immediate. Therefore, if a teacher has a problem during week 1, but fails to document it and/or contact a parent until week 3, we have a problem. The child will not understand a punishment at that time. Thus, we can do nothing to effectively help you. This practice not only hurts the parent’s authority with their child, but it also hurts the student and your classroom dynamic. Further, there is nothing more frustrating to a parent than to hear, “You child has had a problem with…,” yet, we have received no communication about this issue. For all intents and purposes, this is the first time we are hearing about this “problem” thus, there is not history in our eyes. Whose fault is that, really? Teachers have got to do better about keeping records and track of performances. Parents will only back with teachers can prove.
The success of student is dependent, largely, on the cooperation of all parties involved. Educators expect a lot of parents. However, this is a two- way street. Parents have expectation too. Working together, parents and teachers can for a formidable force. Separate, however, the student suffers. Let’s get on one accord and help the future of tomorrow, our children!