Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Be a Parent Teachers Need

School is back in full swing and the classrooms are packed to overflowing with rambunctious children.  The teacher has an abundance of young minds eager to learn, papers to grade and lessons to plan.  They are responsible for shaping these young minds for an unknown future and they need help.  Parents need to be active in their kids’ school and be a volunteer that teachers can rely on.  In order to do that, however, parents need to follow a few simple rules.

1.       Avoid Personal Agendas
Every Parent wants to see their child in the spotlight and to achieve all they can.  In essence, every parent wants their child to be the best.  The teacher wants the exact same thing, but for thirty-five students, not just one.  With that goal in mind the teacher takes into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of each student in order to make sure everyone succeeds.

Volunteers need to come in and assist the teacher in achieving their agenda.  They may be asked to read a story or help setup a presentation or even assist the children with a hands-on project.  Whatever it is, the goal is to help free up the teacher so they can get other much needed things accomplished.  The teacher may need some one-on-one time with a student, time to grade papers or make lesson plans, or simply a break to get another cup of coffee.  Parents who come in and volunteer give the teacher a much needed commodity - time, and that needs to be their only agenda.

2.       Assistance, Not Advice
This doesn’t mean a parent can’t offer a suggestion.  However, don’t try to rewrite everything the teacher does.  Educators have the training and experience to see the class through to the end of the year.  The teacher needs an extra set of hands, not a constant questioning of what they are doing.  As volunteers, parents are the teacher’s assistants, helping to accomplish the lesson plans she has turned in.

3.       Remain Positive
A teacher facing the difficult task of getting thirty-five students to comprehend something at the same time does not need negativity.  They need encouragement and to be surrounded by positive people.  A negative person can topple the morale of those they are around faster than lightening can strike.

Now, everyone can have a bad day.  However, on those days when a volunteer just doesn’t believe they can be positive about anything, there is nothing wrong with taking a day off.  Not only will the negativity wear thin on the teacher, but it will disrupt the students.  Children are sensitive to the emotions of others and the tendency for them is to adopt the attitude of those around them.  When working with children it is important to strive to remain upbeat.

Furthermore, do not be critical of the students.  Little ears can be anywhere and it is amazing what they hear.  Besides, you could be talking to the parent of one of those kids you’re talking about without knowing it.  Suddenly, you’re in an embarrassing situation.

This also means don’t be critical of the teacher or the school in front of your children.  If a parent criticizes the educator in front of the student, it lowers the respect level for the teacher in that child’s mind.  Once the child sees the parents against the school in a vocal way, they usually become a discipline problem because they no longer have respect for the school.  Instead, keep the teacher built up in the eyes of the child.  The student needs to know that the parent respects the position and authority of the school staff.  If you have a concern, take it to the teacher in a proper way and away from little ears.

4.      Show Appreciation
Everyone loves to be appreciated.  For some people it’s a necessity.  Being a teacher can quite often be a thankless profession, so make sure to take the time this year to send your teacher a note saying how much you appreciate what they are doing for your child.

I remember whenever people would drop me a note and how that would turn a bad day into a bright one.  I keep those gems in a small box and when I’m feeling a self pity day coming on, I’ll pull it out and thumb through them reminding myself that the black cloud will soon blow over.  Be that wind of affirmation for your child’s teacher.  Send them a note letting them know how much their efforts mean to you as a parent.  Everyone needs a pat on the back once in awhile.

5.      A Show of Respect
On top of appreciation, give the teacher respect.  No one appreciates it when other people waste their time and I know it annoys me when people drop in on my doorstep out of the blue.  Therefore, you should respect the teacher enough not to do it to them.  If a need arises and you really need to speak with the teacher, call ahead and schedule an appointment.  Unless it’s a real emergency don’t call your child’s teacher at home.  They have a right to a life outside of school.

Furthermore, when parent-teacher night rolls around have a list ready of questions or topics you wish to discuss, so that time is not wasted.  You should always view concerns as opportunities for improvement and not judgments against your child.  Everyone is there for the benefit of the students and that only happens when everyone cooperates with each other.

Parents need to be involved in their children’s school, and teachers need the help as well as the extra eyes and hands.  Most of all, however, children need the benefit of all working together.  Yet, if a parent becomes more of a hindrance that the teacher wishes to avoid, then the children will be the ones to ultimately suffer.  Sign up to be a volunteer this year, but be one that helps pave the way instead of one who causes roadblocks.
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