I’ll be honest; I want my kids’ teachers to like me. I want to be the cool, helpful mom whose kids arrive on time, ready to learn and dressed appropriately for the weather. If it weren’t for my kids I would totally be this mom.
In truth I don’t actually know if I am annoying their teachers. Looking for an unbiased perspective, I reached out to a friend who happens to be a middle school teacher in Boston. I asked what really bugged her about her job. As I suspected, the kids are not the challenge when it comes to being an educator. It’s the parents. She shared a couple of basic points with me:
As parents we need to back the teachers. If my special snowflake isn’t meeting their scholastic potential, she needs to hit the books. I don’t need to make poorly founded accusations against the teacher or the learning institution as a whole. I shouldn’t call to say she didn’t study because of a softball tournament. That’s called making excuses and it’s a cancer to productivity. We need to encourage our children to take accountability for the grades they earn. If you want a better grade, try harder. That’s life, kiddo.
Problem solving skills
My teacher friend told me a story about a student in her middle school who came to class and found her seat taken. Rather than ask the other student to please move, or ask the teacher if seats were reassigned, she texted her parent. The parent called the school. The teacher was paged. The teacher addressed the problem. This is a true story, folks.
One of our most important responsibilities as parents is to prepare our children to thrive in the real world without us. I’m afraid for the future if kids can’t navigate a simple confrontation. We must teach our kids how to have a conversation; which starts on the playground. If my kid wants to play hide-and-seek and their friend wants to play tag, I can’t allow myself to become involved. If my kid says a friend hurt her feelings, I give her a hug and tell her to talk to her friend about it. I’m not interested in playground politics. That’s a lie, I’m fascinated by them but I feign indifference for the sake of her social development.
Many teachers secure secondary sources of income to make ends meet. American public school teachers are underpaid and undervalued and that is like most places around the world. They’re teaching for the love of kids. I don’t know how it became commonplace for parents to question the teacher’s motives and techniques before encouraging kids to try harder but we’re doing our kids a disservice. They will benefit most if we approach their teachers with the respect they deserve and facilitate the development of their basic coping skills. The teachers aren’t asking for much. Support them and raise kids who can talk through problems; maybe throw in a box of glue sticks just for good measure. Cheers, friends.