The Village Includes Your Child’s Teacher

Okay, I admit. I haven’t really put in much thought about what a huge impact teachers have on our lives until this year, when my daughter entered first grade.

I loved her Kindergarten teacher to bits. She was a sweet, no-nonsense dream. She was perfect for my child, who loves to push boundaries a bit…but hates to be in trouble. She excelled with her for sure, but she was also still within the cozy confines of Kindergarten.

There was quiet time, hand-holding, room for tears and really not too much that had to be done on my part. We read the assigned books, practiced forming letters and started to turns sounds into words.

There was quiet time, hand-holding, room for tears and really not too much that had to be done on my part.

Then came the long, lazy days of summer. We still read, but I’ll be honest when I say we spent a lot more time making s’mores and going to bed too late than we did reading. They’re only young once.

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The night before the first day of first grade came along and I couldn’t sleep. This was going to be so different. Less warmth, more work, I was sure.

She was finally stepping out of the bubble and into a classroom with desks, not tables. A place where No.2 pencils are required and you have to know what day of the week it is without singing a song first.

I love my kid, but I had my doubts.

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So far, all has been good. A couple incidents of her talking way too much to the kid next to her, resulting in a seat move. Other than that, smooth sailing.

A few weeks into the school year, we received the weekly newsletter and along with it was a gracious request for donations for things that my daughter’s teacher needed for her class.

I gladly donated, because the first thing that popped into my mind was that I wanted to help her in any way I could, so she can help my daughter. She has influence and guidance over my child for 30 hours a week.

Let’s all let that sink in for a second.

Teachers have an active part in helping us to raise our children for 30 hours a week. We should help them in any way we can.

We’re doing this together, and I think it’s time that a lot of us realize that.

We’re doing this together, and I think it’s time that a lot of us realize that.

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Here’s my issue, I forgot about the donation link initially and asked for it a second time. When she sent it to me and I went in to make my donation, I noticed that she hadn’t gotten a single donation from any other parent in the class.

This really isn’t about the donations, or lack thereof.

It is more about the realization that our society as a whole has a serious lack of appreciation for the people we depend on to teach our children the skills they need to succeed in the future, from social to academic.

They are literally helping us raise our children, and half us barely know them, let alone interact with them on a level that can help fuel the progression of our children from grade to grade.

A lot of you may be holding back because you’re unsure about when or why it’s appropriate to reach out to your child’s teacher. The honest answer is: it’s always appropriate. Your child’s teacher wants to hear from you!

Your child’s teacher wants to hear from you!

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I understand that not all teachers are great. Some of them are going through the motions, and that sucks–but we still have to give each teacher a chance. As a whole, we have to embrace the fact that teachers want to teach. It’s what they’re passionate about.

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Do you have any idea how much you and your kids can benefit just from that tiny fact? Here you have a person, dying to find the right way to teach every child they come in contact with.

Take advantage of that.

Don’t let teachers become sour from years of parental disinterest.

Help them whenever you can. Ask them what they need, how it’s going or if you can pitch in your time. Ask them exactly where your child is in the mix. This way, you know what to expect when it comes to progress reports, and just how much you should be helping at home.

Don’t let teachers become sour from years of parental disinterest.

Send in a box of tissues or markers every once in awhile, not just at the beginning of the year. It shouldn’t be a question of whether or not the supplies are shared. Many of them are. Your kids are using them, as well.

★★★

You’re probably wondering why I have such strong opinions on this, after all, I’m a writer…not a teacher. In addition to being a writer, I was also that jerk parent making judgments on a woman I had never met because I was upset about my child falling behind.

The aforementioned Kindergarten teacher that I adore? At one point, I hated her.

In mid-October of last year, the school sent home a note that my child was critically behind in math. If it stayed that way, she’d have to repeat Kindergarten.

The note informed me that she was being put into a math help group right away because the situation was dire. Yes, they used the word dire in regard to Kindergarten math.

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I was panicked and wondering why I was left holding a cold, impersonal note in my hand when I had politely asked in the beginning of the year to be notified if she needed help, since she’s on the younger side.

I went over the teacher’s head, and wrote a long letter to the school Principal (who was very nice) about how I was unsatisfied with what was happening in the classroom. I have never regretted anything more.

When parent-teacher conferences rolled around, I had a chance to sit and talk to the teacher in-depth about the problem. She explained that she had asked for the note to be held until after the conference, so she could go over the issue with me on a personal level.

She apologized, saying that the letters sent home for such situations really make it out to be much worse than it ever is, or dire if you will, and told me that she understood why I was upset and why I went to the Principal.

She was hoping to avoid that very situation by requesting a hold on the letter. When it slipped through the cracks, she was just as disappointed as I was.

After chatting for a half hour, every concern I had dissolved. I loved everything about her. That love never faltered throughout the school year, and I still love her to this day.

After chatting for a half hour, every concern I had dissolved.

In fact, when we went to visit my daughter’s first grade class, our beloved Kindergarten teacher was our first stop. I was just as overjoyed to see her as my daughter was. She is a wonderful person, and she’s been in the game a long time. She’s one of the good ones.

★★★

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The first grade teacher is a bit new at all of this. She’s young, and there have already been some parent rumblings happening about whether or not she can control the kids.

Not from me, no sir. I sent her a donation for her classroom and an extra bag full of supplies. Teaching is not for the faint of heart, and clearly I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to passing judgement before January.

There’s an old saying that I’m sure we’re tired of hearing but it’s true: It takes a village to raise a child. Your child’s teacher is part of that village.

So before you go on your next tirade about your kid’s new teacher and the little things that might be bothering you, remember that there is a person behind the homework and weekly emails.

Reach out to them. If your complaint is legitimate (and pretty much any parental concern can be considered legitimate), you’ll find yourself in a much better place if you bring it up.

There’s no need to hide your thoughts regarding your child’s education or well-being. The great thing about expressing your concerns is simply this: You both want the same outcome. Success for the student. ★

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Chelsie Dautrich is a full time freelancer/online shopper and work at home mom. She lives in Upstate New York with her two girls, one husband and one rescue dog. Likes: Coffee, shopping, the written word, horses and really long walks without her phone. Dislikes: Making dinner, lines and reduced fat Oreos.

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