Saturday, August 21, 2010

Helpful back to school tips or how not to piss off your child's teacher before school starts

As many of you know, I am a school teacher. I have been teaching for sixteen (!) years. Throughout the many years I have educated children, I have encountered all kinds of children and parents. Just so you know, there can be a lot of "problem" children out there, but "bad" parents are by far the worst problem teachers have to deal with throughout the school year.

I have decided to share some helpful tips for all you lucky people who don't start school until AFTER Labor Day, as the good Lord intended.

1. Please do not disturb a teacher before school starts. This means refraining from introducing yourself to said teacher as she is head deep in opened and unopened boxes, when her room closely resembles Hiroshima after the bomb went off or in the full throes of the nervous breakdown that occurs when we realize the summer is over and school starts in a mere four days from now. This also includes sending emails telling her how gifted your child is, asking what supplies to bring. Bear in mind that any of these actions can remind her that the summer is over.

2. If you decide to come and show your child where his or her classroom is, please make yourself scarce. Teachers who need to move boxes, furniture and books do not tend to look where they are going. Once they gain some momentum on their hand trucks, they forge full speed ahead, rarely noticing if they are running over pedestrians. This is especially true of short teachers, such as myself, who usually pack hand trucks and carts to above my eye level, making a line of vision impossible. Consider yourself warned.

3. Please do not tell us how you can't wait to send your child to school, how the summer was endless and your child was driving you nuts because they were bored. You are not making a good first impression. More importantly, your child's teacher not only has to deal with your "angel." She has 36 other little "angels" whose mothers are desperate to unload come the beginning of school. For the record, we are not here to entertain. We are here to educate. You are not inspiring confidence in us when you relate your anecdotes. Truly.

4. We get the issues your child has with homework. We have kids too. We also have classwork assignments that we have to pull teeth in order to get done. You have our sympathy. It is an unpleasant part of parenting. Get over it.

5. Be truthful of your child's strengths and weaknesses. We will figure them out sooner rather than later. It would be nice to have a heads up so we can address it quickly and efficiently and help your child succeed. We like nothing better than to have a successful academic year and confident students, in spite of what you may have heard about us.

6. Don't schedule teacher conferences the first week of school to gossip about your ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Discuss what is pertinent to your child's educational and emotional well being. We don't like tattling from adults either.

7. Please refrain from blaming your child's prior year's teacher for all your child's academic shortcomings. Surely, uninterrupted TV and video games for the last ten weeks did nothing to strengthen their academic progress. The tons of junk food and soda did not help either.

8. Please, please don't put sodas, cookies, chips and candy in your child's lunch box and call it a lunch. Call it what it is. A teacher's nightmare.

9. Teachers are people too. We have many responsibilities and obligations, inside of the classroom and in our personal lives. Please don't get upset if we don't respond within five minutes of you leaving a message in the main office or sending us an email. We are teaching.

10. If we call you with a concern, we are not picking on your child. We truly have your child's best interest at heart. But when push comes to shove, you are ultimately responsible for your child. We know parenting is hard. Most of us have children of our own. We share the same anxieties and insecurities in our own parenting. As teachers, we know your child in a way you will never know, just as parents know their children in ways teachers never know. We get it. But we are here to help.

11. The way to a teacher's heart is through kindness. There are only so many scented soaps we can use and necklace sets we can wear. If you think we have really touched your child's life, write us a letter. Let us know what we did right so that we can do it again and reach another child. Keep in touch with us throughout the years. We love to hear how our students are doing in other grades, as they get older.

12. Be enthusiastic. Your child will pick up on it. It will make all the difference between having a good year and having a phenomenal year!


  1. It sounds like you know what it takes to have a successful year!

  2. You're right on with all of this and I have one more to add: don't criticize your child's teacher to the child. If they express disappointment try to help them think of positives and to remember that life will be full of teachers that may not be exactly who they wanted, and, later, bosses!

  3. As a mom about to enter the world of Kindergarten, reading this was HUGE. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post, I really appreciate your insight.


Tell me what you think...