Back to school time is just around the corner, and I’m sure there are lots of mixed feelings in the air. Sad summer is over, happy for a little time for yourself while your kids are at school, sad they’re growing up, proud they’re growing up, nervous for a new school, excited for a new year, and a million other emotions. As teachers, most of us are already back to school. Most districts have teachers meet a week or two before school starts to get us excited and ready for the new year. Thinking about this upcoming year, I thought I would share some things your teachers want you to know, if you don’t know already.
We Love Your Kids
I know it sounds cliché, but we really do. We love the stories they tell, tangents they go off on, goofy things they do, and a million other things cannot help but be endearing. I have students who amaze me and inspire me every day. It’s because of the students that I love my job as much as I do--and that’s even with the difficult ones thrown in there. Yes, even the difficult ones we love.
The first time I cried because of a class (I’ve only cried twice to date) was when I was a student teacher. One of my seventh graders was out of control. Like totally crazy--running on top of desks, screaming, making fart noises, calling me the b-word, and basically non-stop back talking, leaving no room for learning. I didn’t know what to do and was afraid my professor would fail me since I had no control of the class because of him.
I talked to the experienced teacher, whose class it normally was, and she encouraged me to get to know him enough to love him. What?? I personally just wanted him out of the class, but I tried it. I asked him at least one question a day, not about English, to try and dislike him less.
Once I got to know him everything changed. He stopped trying to be cool for his friends, and I stopped giving off my obvious air of frustration. The class environment completely changed and he became one of my favorite students. It seemed like a novel experience to me, but apparently it wasn’t because every year just before school starts, administration reminds us just how important it is for us to get to know our students.
Cell Phones Suck
Plain and simple, they are the absolute worst. I have had students take phone calls, FaceTime calls, make calls, play games, make TikToks, and take Snapchats during class, and their excuse always is, “It’s my mom.” It rarely is, but if it is you mom, please stop.
Once our classroom community is established and there is mutual respect, there are few issues, but there are always one or two students that are completely addicted to their phones. They can’t keep their hands off them and they would rather miss information or fail a presentation rather than put their phones away.
A big complaint I hear from students about their addiction is, “My parents are just as bad, if not worse.” Be an example of healthy phone usage around your kids. Teach them the beauty of real in-person connection and learning. Let them know how disrespectful being on your phone is while someone else is talking. Most importantly, work as a team if a teacher reaches out to you.
We Want Your Kids to Succeed
I have heard many people say over and over, “Teachers just teach to the test these days.” Usually this is referring to standardized testing at the end of the year.
As teachers, we are experts in our field of study. We understand what they should know already, what they need to learn, how to bridge the gaps, and how to achieve learning goals. We spend countless hours planning before school, after school, during the summer, with our grade level and content area teams, with our district, and with our administrators. We make lesson plans, unit plans, set goals, revise, and revise again. We stay up at night strategizing on not only how to best help the class, but individual students as well. We adjust our lessons for all levels of learning ability and language ability.
We don’t do this because we are forced by an almighty test. We thoughtfully choose relevant content to teach for our students to apply for the rest of their lives. Sure, my students may never have to write an argumentative essay again, but the research and critical thinking skills they gain while writing is something they can use forever. We want them to be successful not only in our classrooms, but out in the wild world as well.
We Know What We’re Doing
We’ve all been to school and know that one teacher that played CSI every day instead of teaching Chemistry. Because of that one teacher, some of us have a hint of skepticism about every teacher we encounter. Do you really know history or do you just retype the textbook on a slideshow? We’ve all been to school, so we all think we know how a class should be run. I have had multiple students ask if all I needed was to graduate high school to be a teacher. Fortunately for a school-loving gal like me, I got to go to years and years of school to be a teacher.
All of us educators have studied how your child will learn best for their age, how to manage a classroom full of forty children, how to create meaningful discussions, how to engage students, how to keep students engaged, how to get our students to evaluate their own learning, and the list goes on.
If we teach elementary school, we have taken classes and competency tests to ensure we know basically every subject. If we teach in secondary schools, we take dozens of classes and competency tests specific to our content area (math, English, science, Spanish, theater, etc.). We have invested countless hours and mounds of money to be the best we can be for your children.
We Want to Be a Team
We want to be a team with you. As a teacher, I will never know your child’s needs as well as you. I have had students who come across as apathetic or down right disrespectful, but there is more to it than what I preemptively assume is a character flaw.
When I email home and ask how I can best help, I often learn of something going on that I wish I had known from the beginning of the year. Maybe it is a concussion, family troubles, a worrisome change in mood across the board, long commutes to school, an illness, or even pregnancy. If I’m informed and working as a team with the parent, I do not make misjudgments of the student.
From the beginning I would have cut them some slack if they needed to run to the bathroom often or were extra grumpy, made adjustments to my teaching, or reached out in a different way to the student. Depending on the circumstance, teachers can direct families and students to the right people in the school to get proper accommodations or counseling at the school. The accommodations can help students in their academics and extracurriculars. As parents and teachers we need to communicate and be a team.
Going along with this, we love when a student knows how to advocate for themselves. Teach your children from a young age to go to teachers (or any adult) with questions, concerns, or to inform.
If you are going on a trip, try having your child ask the teacher for the work they will miss. Or if they were sick, encourage your child to explain their absence and get their missing assignments. These may seem like small things, but if they are used to speaking with their teachers, by the time they get to high school and college they will be ahead of their peers because they will not be scared to ask for extra feedback/help or extended time for extenuating circumstances.
This Year is Going to Rock
The last few years have been rough in all aspects of our lives and have been especially apparent in schools. Student expectations have changed from month to month. School locations have done the same thing. Being back full time in the classroom last year was difficult for a lot of us and took some time to adjust back into it. In other words it was pretty rough. Many many teachers quit the profession for good because of it. But this year is going to be a different story. I can feel it in my bones. I cannot wait!
So let's make this the best year yet! Hopefully you and your children are just as your teachers are to start the 2022-2023 school year!
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