By: Tiffany Andrews
It’s back to school time already which means a new grade level and teacher for your child. Every parent longs for their child to get the best teacher; someone that they trust to educate and take care of their child during the day. Trusting someone you do not know is nearly impossible, so in order for you to trust your children’s teachers, you must take the time to get to know them! Time is a rare commodity to come by these days, but when it comes to your child's education your time couldn't be put to better use. You may be asking, is it really worth it? Your children spend 8 hours of every weekday with their teacher and as a result, different rules, guidelines, mannerisms, and rituals are influencing your child. If you take the time to get an idea about the environment your child will be in and the person leading and creating that environment for the next year, then it will save many questions and concerns you may have later on.
Do your best to attend open school-wide events such as Open House, Curriculum Night, and Parent-Teacher conferences. These events are meant to allow you to scope out the classroom. It is not a one-on-one meeting with the teacher, but it is your chance to see your child's daily environment. While there, ask yourself the following questions:
• How is the overall organization of the room?
• What behavior plans are in set?
• What are the classroom rules?
• By looking at the posters, books, etc. around the room, what is the teacher’s focus?
• What kind of technology is present?
• What kinds of materials are available? Are there any materials lacking that you could help supply? (i.e. books, games, journals, craft items)
Sometimes you will have to ask the teacher in order to answer the questions if they are not apparent by just looking around the room. Just remember that the teacher might be overwhelmed with questions from the other parents as well; so make it short and sweet!
Read your child’s syllabus, so you are aware of the teacher’s focus, requirements, and policies. Sometimes you might not even have to ask questions if you take the time to sit and read the packet the teacher hands you at the beginning of the year. The packets might appear daunting but they are filled with information about the teacher, the school, and the classroom. If you are already at the school for Open House, take the time to sit down and read through the material to answer any questions you might have. Then if you still have questions you are already there at school and can ask! You can even return to the syllabus if you have a question later in the year.
If available look at the teacher’s website. First of all, the website shows you how comfortable the teacher is with technology. Then you can look to see if there is an “All about me” page, a teacher philosophy page, or classroom news. All of these items will give you a better grasp of who this individual is with which your child spends so much time!
Parents want the best for their child, especially when it comes to the teacher who will be in their child’s life for the next year. However, giving your child’s teacher the benefit of a doubt is not only helpful to you as a parent but to your child as well. Compared to other parents, all parents have a different experience with their child’s teacher. Some parents may love the teacher while some may not. It is important to be cautious about what you listen to because no parent wants to willingly confess that her child is a challenge in school; so, what you might be hearing is a jaded version. Choose to start each year with a clean slate and make your own relationship with the teacher.
Tiffany is the co-author of Sincerely, The Teacher: The Top 10 Things Teachers Want Parents to Know.
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