Forget about the waxy new crayons, stiff backpacks and heavily discounted clothes. Fall marks the onset of one of the most significant relationships that you’ll have all year: your relationship with your child’s new teacher.
And guess what? I want to partner with you.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind as we get to know each other.
1. Let’s be open, honest and non-judgmental.
Tell me about your child…all about your child. What are they passionate about? What triggers frustration or withdrawal? You are your child’s first teacher and know them best.
Please, don’t hold back because you’re worried about my opinion. Your child didn’t eat breakfast because they got pissed that you poured the syrup on the pancake instead of next to it? Let me know so that I can help ease their transition into the school day.
I also want to hear about your family. Who makes up your family? What does your family do outside of school? What is your child’s experience after dismissal? I may only be with your child from 8am-3pm, but envisioning your family and your child outside of the classroom helps me approach your child as a whole person.
2. Every parent/caregiver is engaged in their child’s learning, including you.
While this might look different from family to family, I have yet to meet a parent/caregiver that isn’t invested in the success of their child. You DO NOT need to be head of the PTA to be considered an engaged parent or to show your child that you’re invested in them. After all, involved parents don’t necessarily equate to engaged parents. Whether you’re working in an office, at home, or managing home life, you are busy.
Research shows that meaningful family engagement correlates with student success. Let me show you how to help your child with his or her math homework or how to shop for appropriate books at the library. Let me help you feel comfortable and confident supporting your child’s learning. You’re not asking too much — it’s part of my job.
3. This year is also about YOU.
What do you need from me this year? Do you need frequent parent/teacher communication — the positive emails as well as the “Your child did something less than ideal” emails? Do you need to see that I have books that challenge your child and also reflect who they are? Each family is different, and while I’m pretty skilled at getting a classroom full of 6 year olds to work quietly, I haven’t yet mastered the art of reading minds. I need you to communicate with me in good times and in bad. When you’re happy, your child is happy and when your child is happy, they’re more likely to be learning. Let me know what you need in order to feel empowered and connected to me and school.
4. It’s impossible to be objective about your own child.
After all, this is your baby that we’re talking about. The one that you welcomed into the world, held tight in your arms to soothe and comfort, rocked to sleep at 3 a.m., fed and nourished, etc. You have navigated the perils of infancy, watched them grow into a little human being capable of heading off to school on their own. You are amazing!
It is perfectly understandable that you will not be level-headed about your own child. I get it. I have two children of my own.
As a teacher and a mom, I see this play out on a daily basis. I am now the obsessed parent, overanalyzing every developmental milestone that my daughter and son approach and assessing how they compare to their peers. I’m the parent who describes my children with too many superlatives and thinks that they are capable of extraordinary and admirable things. Despite the fact that my children sometimes make me want to run out of the house screaming, they’re still utterly perfect, right? Parenting brings out the irrational side in all of us.
5. I am going to love your child.
I promise, I will. I’m sure you hear this all the time — we didn’t get into teaching for the money. We got into teaching because of the joy of learning, the celebrations of childhood, and the journey along the way. When I go home at night, I cook dinner for my family and find my mind often drifting back to your child. I think about their mini-successes and lose sleep over their struggles and failures. This year I’ll rework my lessons to meet their unique needs and will spend my own money to buy supplies and materials. I share your love for your child, quirks included. And together, we can be the foundation and the ladders that they need to succeed this year.
And most importantly, I’m thrilled to be partnering with you.
Your Child’s New Teacher