One of our readers, Jen Strange, emailed me through the complaint form (I love that thing!!) and asked me if I would post this. I am absolutely glad to, it is a wonderful post.
This morning my son and I walked into his school and met his 3rd grade teacher. As I reflected on his 4th year in public school, I wrote a blog entry for my friends to read, at first thinking only about school supplies and teacher gifts. Then I wanted to share it further. So here I am.
This school year, your child’s elementary school teacher will spend more time a day/week/month with your child than anyone in the world but you. (And depending on your schedule, possibly you, too.) They are a huge influence and part of your child’s life. Why NOT take some time here and there to let them know you appreciate their hard work, their care for your child, their patience as they deal with dozens of children day in and day out?
Yes, it’s a job and they get paid for the job – but my experience with teachers is that they work much harder than their pay entails, it’s emotionally taxing, and they truly have a heart for the students in their class. A good relationship with your child’s teacher is just as important as sitting down together to do homework or making sure he takes time for reading every day.
Teachers are very often left buying school supplies for their classrooms with their own money. People, your kid goes to public school for free (i.e. you are not paying tuition each month.) The LEAST you can do is contribute to the running of the classroom. Buy not only every school supply on the list (I buy multiples when the deals are good – a few extra boxes of 25 cent crayons aren’t going to kill my budget), but also buy as many wish list items as you can. Look at the dollar bin at Michael’s or Target and grab some cute pads of paper (teachers are forever writing notes. Grab some good pens while you’re at it to send.) Send in an occasional Starbucks giftcard, just because. Ask the teacher from time to time if there’s anything she needs for the class, and then get it for her! My best friend often sends in a Target giftcard with a note to use it for any supply needs. You don’t have to bankroll the classroom, but there are little things here and there that can really
When the teacher does something great, send the principal an email and let him know! Last year the principal told me in response to such an email that he almost never gets good news emails, only complaints. It takes 30 seconds to shoot off that email. Just do it. If there is an issue with your child, talk calmly with the teacher about it to try to figure out what happened – never start with accusation, as much as you want to defend your child. Explain that you want to understand what happened. Don’t escalate to the principal until you have at least spoken to the teacher.
Stop for a second and assess your attitude toward teachers. They are not just a necessary evil. They are not indentured servants. They are not teaching because they can’t do anything else (do you know how competitive it is to GET a teaching job? Even harder to KEEP.) Your child’s teacher is your PARTNER in working with you to ensure that your child grows into his full potential. You want your child to enjoy school, learn as much as possible, and grow into an amazing adult. Respect the person who is helping you in that endeavor.
Have a great school year, friends.