Aside from their parents and family, children spend most of their waking hours in the classroom. Because of that, it’s in teacher of teachers that parents and teachers have a healthy working relationship. Unfortunately, that does not always happen, and often the results are disastrous. Whether you’re getting along well with your child’s teacher or whether you’re engaged in an ongoing struggle, understanding these few truths about teachers is likely to improve the relationship.
Teachers are on Your Team
Unless something has gone terribly wrong and a teacher has become bitter and cynical, you both have the same goal–whatever is best for your child. Teachers don’t become educators so they can take revenge on students for their own childhood experiences; nor do they get their own classrooms as a way to exert power over the virtually powerless. In fact, getting a classroom of their own is the most humbling, frightening and exciting experience for all teachers.
No, teachers are passionate about their subject matter, and they want to inspire their students to have that same passion. They want your child to learn and grow in all areas, just as you do, and that means they’re on your team. Unfortunately, personal differences and frustrations can get in the way of this goal, and it doesn’t always seem as if you’re even speaking the same language or playing the same game. Get beyond those issues and focus on your child. That is your common ground. If you can do that, the whole team wins. You’re on the same team.
Teachers are Human, Too
It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Although they’re trained professionals, they’re also human beings and therefore prone to all the frailties and weaknesses common to us all. While an accountant’s primary focus is numbers and an electrician’s primary focus is wiring, a teacher’s primary focus is children. Dealing with people is fraught with potential frustrations, as you well know, and it’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged when a student doesn’t seem to be “getting it” or isn’t giving much effort. You sometimes get frustrated with your child in these ways, too. Now multiply that by 25 or 30.
Sometimes a teacher’s frustration is more self-directed. She may know that what she’s been doing isn’t working but has no idea how to do it better. Be patient. She will figure it out, if not for the sake of her students then for her own sanity and satisfaction. Don’t ever excuse bad or inappropriate behavior by a teacher toward your child, but do allow her to be an imperfect but dedicated teammate.
Teachers are Professionals
Part of being a professional is the ability and willingness to learn, grow and adapt. When one thing doesn’t seem to be working, teachers generally begin trying other methods and techniques to accomplish their students’ learning goals. It may not occur as quickly as anyone would like, but the odds are good that you’ll see results. Teachers have many resources available to them, including their educational training, their mentors and their administration. Once the need for change becomes evident, professionals figure out how to make it happen.
In some ways, society shows great respect for teachers. In other ways, however, society thinks of teachers as being glorified babysitters who work easy hours and have their summers free. Whatever your view, if you treat teachers as the trained professionals they are, they will generally rise to your expectations and solve the problem.
Teachers are Flexible
Perhaps if you’ve had a “run-in” with a teacher, you might not believe this; but consider the constant disruptions they have to deal with almost every day. If a colleague is sick and there is no sub, teachers give up their precious planning time to help cover the need. If the weather doesn’t cooperate and students are dismissed, teachers have to revamp their plans on the fly. When an unruly student acts out, teachers have to regain control and focus. When an unscheduled convocation, musical rehearsal or play practice is held during the day, teachers have to “go with the flow” and still accomplish all their goals for the week and year.