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Dear Parents……....10 Things Teachers Really Want You to Know
By Becky L. Spivey, M.Ed.
Dear Parents,
As a veteran elementary school teacher (before my days at Super Duper Publications), I feel a little melancholy as every new school year approaches. I miss the excitement of preparing my classroom for a new group of little people that always inspired, challenged, and taught me a little more about myself and my mission as a teacher. Along with that new group of children came a new group of parents. I will forever be indebted to scores of them for their support and constant willingness to do something, anything, for my students – or for me. For you parents with children just beginning their school career, or if you are “old hats” cranking up for yet another year, there are some things your children’s teachers really want you to know.
Teachers care for and about their students. Teachers don’t become teachers for the pay, the hours, the continuous schooling for certification, the endless paperwork, or their “summers off”. Teachers become teachers because it is who they are; it’s in their soul; it’s their life’s calling. Like any parent, teachers have good days and bad days. Never forget that teaching and caring for your children is what teachers do best. During the school year, teachers spend as much time with your children as you do, and before too many days have passed, teachers know your children almost as well as you do.
Teachers won’t believe everything they hear that happens in your home if you won’t believe everything you hear that happens at school. If you are ever unclear as to what “really” happens at school, ask the teachers.
Teachers love school supplies! School supplies make great gifts for the classroom! A gift card (even in the smallest amounts) to local discount or educational supply stores allows teachers to buy exactly what they need. Elementary teachers alone spend an average of $411 a year out of pocket to keep their classrooms going. They provide supplies to students who may not have resources at home to get what they need. School supplies don’t have to come from a store. If your business or workplace has a surplus of promotional pencils, writing pads, folders, paper, or markers, a teacher can ALWAYS put them to good use. ANYTHING you bring to the classroom in the way of donations is like a ray of sunshine for teachers!
Teachers wish more parents would volunteer at school. Even if you aren’t an active member of the school’s parent organization, there are always things you can do to help: reading to small groups, photocopying, lunchtime monitoring, organizing materials, tutoring individual children or small groups, shelving books, recess monitoring, etc. Your school’s principal or classroom teacher will gladly give you a task. Even working parents can do tasks at home. The smallest efforts to help out mean the world to teachers and to your children.
Teachers wish more parents would volunteer at school. Even if you aren’t an active member of the school’s parent organization, there are always things you can do to help: reading to small groups, photocopying, lunchtime monitoring, organizing materials, tutoring individual children or small groups, shelving books, recess monitoring, etc. Your school’s principal or classroom teacher will gladly give you a task. Even working parents can do tasks at home. The smallest efforts to help out mean the world to teachers and to your children.
Teachers appreciate your help planning and going along on field trips. Whether preparing snacks, making nametags, chaperoning, or helping make phone calls to finalize the arrangements, everything you can do to help with field trips takes a tremendous load off the teachers, allowing them to focus on teaching and taking care of the day-to-day demands of their classroom duties.
Teachers understand that your child must be out for appointments or must recuperate at home after an illness. Teachers will gladly help you with extending deadlines for missed assignments, but remember, teachers are under the gun to meet deadlines too. Be courteous and have your child submit their work on time. If your child’s illness prevents him/her from meeting the deadline already set, notify the teacher as soon as you can.
Teachers know when your child isn’t getting enough sleep and/or is eating a sugar-loaded breakfast. If your child is keeping summer hours during the school year, it is more obvious than you might think. A lack of sleep combined with a sugar-loaded breakfast causes a child to crash and burn not long after the school day begins. The National Sleep Foundation recommends children between the ages of five and 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep. Without proper rest, the lessons your children hear at school go in one ear and out the other. As for breakfast, sugar-loaded cereals, sweet rolls, pastries, etc. cause blood sugars to spike very quickly, giving the child a burst of energy that is short-lived. Then the blood sugar crashes just as quickly as it spiked leaving behind a shell of a child that is sleepy, cranky, and hungry – again. Choose breakfast, lunch, and snack items filled with protein in addition to raw fruits, dairy products and milk, or natural juices (with no added sugar).
Teachers can tell if your child is reading or being read to at home as much as we can tell those that watch too much TV. Spend time reading to and with your children. Let them see you reading for pleasure. Visit the library at school or your local public library together. Make reading a priority in your home. Books of all kinds make for interesting conversation in the car and at the dinner table.
Teachers know when children are getting too much TV time. Their performance, attention span, behavior, and topics they talk about (from shows airing past a reasonable bedtime) give it away. Turn off the TV. Treat television as a treat. Spending time with your children after school at home, in the park, at the store, or even in the car is time well spent. Time wasted watching TV is time you’ll never get back.
Teachers like communicating. However, it’s almost impossible to make phone calls or have an impromptu parent conference during the school day. An email or note addressing your concerns is more likely to get a quick response. There just aren’t enough minutes during the day away from students to have a private conversation or unscheduled meeting.
Resources
Latham, Glenn I. and Fifield, Karen. March 1993. The Professional Teacher. The hidden costs of teaching. Volume 50. Number 6. Page 44. Retrieved online August 2013 from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar93/vol50/num06/The-Hidden-Costs-of-Teaching.aspx
National Sleep Foundation. 2013. Children and sleep. Retrieved July 2013 from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep
 
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