Teacher of 21+ years and parent of a sophomore & senior talks with a parent of an 8th grader & freshman about various struggles in parenting, encouraging other humans as we all do the best that we can, and partnering with teachers to rally a team of support for our future generations.
This is one part of my candid conversation with a friend who is also a teacher. I've typed out a few memorable sentences (with a few slight edits for readability) from our time together shared here and broke up our talk into 4 sections. Please share what resonates with you, and pass it on to others that would be encouraged by our conversation. Thank you!
Read/ watch the whole 4 part series here: Conversations with a teacher about teens & life.
As a teacher (over 21 years) and a parent, in your opinion, what is the best way that a parent can encourage our children’s teachers?
What is the best way that a parent can encourage our children’s teachers? Some teachers don’t realize their impact. They do, but they forget because so much stuff is going on. How can we be an encouragement to our kids’ teachers? What they do is so important and our children spend so much time in school.
“People go into teaching because they care about kids. And parents care about their kids. 99.99% of the time, parents want what is best for their kids and teachers want what is best for their students.”
One of the most powerful things we can do for our kids/students is to let the them know that the adults are on the same side.
“If you don’t want your parents nagging you, do it before they have to tell you.”
“Trying to reinforce the home and the school partnership is huge. And telling parents that they do a good job and their kids- all kids- have great qualities and there is something that shines in them. And parents reinforcing that ‘your teachers are working really hard, you need to do your part. Study for the test’ or whatever… but when there is tension and one side is undermining the other, then that’s the worst situation for the student.”
“As long as the students and the teachers and the parents are all working together then great things happen and kids blossom and it’s really exciting.”
“Don’t be afraid to call teachers and ask. What do I need to do? What’s not working here? What do you see? And not be so defensive… sometimes parents are defensive because we want their kids to be perfect. “ “You can be humble and say, ‘I hear you, thanks for letting me know’ and ‘how can we fix this’? And that’s huge. And then we can really help kids get past those hurdles because they are humans, and they are young, very inexperienced humans that don’t have the best decision making skills. The parents are the wise ones. The adults. We know better and we’ve got more life experience so we can work together. That’s what we want to do. We want parents and teachers to be on the same side which is the side that is best for the kid.”
Thank you for including the other side. But as you kept talking, you pointed out that you can still find the good and the common points and hold on to the hope that ultimately, probably, and I don’t really know -but we assume -they (teachers) came into the field for good reasons. But we can also talk to them as people. We can make appointments and ask and express some of these thoughts to them, not to our child, (potentially) making things worse. We can go directly to them and ask. Get to the bottom of it and clear it up and be united as a team instead of stirring the pot and making things worse.
Perhaps maybe what my child is presenting when they come home isn’t what the teacher sees. We could have that conversation, clear the air, and be reunited as a team.
“My teacher gave me this bad grade because they don’t like me.”
“The teacher asked for abc and the child is doing xyz..”
“We can do good things and we can work together and everything is okay.”
“Assume the best of the teacher. That you have an ally. That both the parent and the teacher work together. They are not the enemy. They are trying to work to do the best for your child with what they have.”
“For the teenager to hear that message that all these adults are rallying around me… all these adults are rooting for me and they are all working together for me. I think that that can build them up and then they can be their best, which might not be perfect, and it might not be mediocre, but it can be their best at that time.”
“They are going to school to be taught by a group of adults. We are all together, working together, in our own sphere for the best that we can for our own future- they the future!”
“Yes, that’s an alternative way of looking at the situation and addressing the situation from a positive, hopeful mindset. Hey, we are all in this together for the benefit of our future generation and our child’s future. “
“They are the future, and we will all be retired, and the world will be in their hands. We really should prepare them and get them ready.”
“I have had well over one thousand students in my (20+ years) teaching career and 99.99% of parents are doing the best that they can and want what is best for their kids. Even if they are not the trophy winning best parent- none of us are. We make mistakes. It’s messy, but we are doing the best that we can and we care about our kids. And same thing for teachers. We are not perfect and we definitely make mistakes but we are in it for the kids. We want them to do well and be successful, we are all really going for the same goal and are on the same team for sure.”
Somewhere along the way, I started not to trust teachers because my children would often come home with surprising comments about school.
I think I started to not trust some teachers. Sometimes my kids come home and they say they did this or that in school and I think, what are ya’ll doing over there?? But hearing you say repeatedly over and over you saying, ‘we are on the same team’ is causing me to rethink. Maybe there needs to be a conversation with the teacher. Maybe what my kids are expressing is a different reality than the teacher’s perspective.
Teachers WANT the best for their students and of course I want the best for my child. It’s so good for me to hear you, as a teacher, express this. We can work together and support one another. I guess I forgot that along the way. Teachers aren’t all bad.
If I think about it, there have been some stellar teachers in my kids’ lives. Maybe there have been more, but I didn’t interact with them. Maybe as a parent, we can ask ourselves, what is our relationship with my kid’s teachers? Am I being supportive with what my child’s teachers are trying to do?
As a teacher, I could say, ‘oh the parent could be doing this or that,’ but I don’t know what else is going on in the home. The same could be said about the teacher doing more with the student but there are 20+ more students in the classroom, and mandates to follow and budgeting etc., but the teacher is really doing the best that they can. There just has to be trust in that relationship that the teacher is doing the best that they can with every single student in that room.
Not every teacher connects with rainbows and sunshine with every single student… there is the whole range. The classroom has a lot of personalities. A lot of times, the kids will love the subject and think that’s the teacher.
“Everyone loves the PE teacher, unless they hate sports.”
It was that child’s experience in that particular class…
What kind of a ‘coach’ are we?
Bringing it back to the start of the conversation (Part 1), we are preparing them for the future as teens with the next step in mind of them living life on their own. We want to be behind them (supportive of them) and their advocate.
“We are coaching, we are preparing them. We are not on the field with them. We don’t win or lose the game. We are coaching them.
“What kind of coach are we?”
Be careful when posting about ‘millennials’ online…
Be careful when posting about kids these days, they see it and take it to heart. “When we talk about millennials our kids, they see that. They see what people say about them. We have to be really mindful that we are being really encouraging to them.” They know that we are talking about them.
Choose to name the good and remain positive and encouraging to others.
You are choosing to name the good even though that was not all that was happening in your life. I know you have had a wide variety of experiences in your life, not all of it was good. Yet, you choose to remain positive and encouraging to others.
Thank you for tuning in to this conversation. It has been really encouraging to those with older children, to know that they are not alone. You can read a recap of the other segments by clicking on the link below. Please share this with others who might need a little encouragement in this stage of their life, whether they are a parent of teens or a teacher (or trusted adult) invested in the life of teens. As always, share what stood out to you with us. It is encouraging to read and also to know what resonates (or is missing) from future conversations. Thank you.