Q: I’ve asked my children’s teachers this question before, but I don’t know that they’ve given me an honest answer. So I’ll ask you: what is the one thing that all teachers wish parents knew?
A: That’s a loaded question, and I imagine you’re probably right—your children’s teachers have danced around the answer. Don’t judge them too harshly, though; the reason for their deception is because the answer is neither professional nor polite.
So the one thing we wish all parents knew? We are not your child’s parents. Don’t expect us to be.
Pretty blunt, right? Let me explain.
Most teachers became teachers because they want to make a difference in a child’s life. There is a fine line, however, between making a difference and carrying out duties that fall within the realm of parental responsibilities. I actually shared your question with a few of my colleagues. Let’s just say your question inspired a lively discussion, the highlights of which I’ve provided below.
- I do my job at school by providing the homework I believe the child needs to learn. Please help me out by making sure the homework is completed at home. If I wanted it done at school, I would have made it an in-class assignment. If it doesn’t matter to the parent, why should it matter to the student?
- While I love my students, I also pay daycare costs. I will stay after school to help a student, but I do not get paid for that extra time. My daycare provider, on the other hand, still charges me while I’m stuck at the school waiting for a parent to pick his or her child up after hours.
- Please look at your child before you let her leave the house in the morning. I should not be the first person to notice that she is wearing sandals when the temperature is below freezing.
- It’s easy to identify which children have parents who talk and listen to them and which ones don’t.
- A simple bowl of cereal for breakfast can make a huge difference over the course of a day.
- I know you and your neighbor don’t like each other because your child wrote about it in his journal. Swear words are pretty easy to spell, so perhaps you should refrain from such colorful language when he’s within earshot.
- I understand you have to work; I have to work, too. I’m sorry that you don’t want to take a sick leave day to stay home with your child, but I cannot take care of a sick, contagious child and teach at the same time.
- I have a family of my own. Please don’t call me at home and interrupt quality time with my own children to ask me for a list of this week’s spelling words.
- Yes, your daughter has been changing into clothing you don’t approve of once she gets to school. Unless she is violating dress code, there’s not much I can do about it. You, on the other hand, have access to her closet and can confiscate whatever it is you don’t want her to wear.
- Movie ratings are posted on movies for a reason. There’s nothing quite as disturbing as a six year old traumatizing his classmates with the gory details of an R-rated movie during show and tell time.
- If you want to take away privileges until your child’s grades improve, go for it. Just don’t ask me to be the one to tell him you’re doing it, and don’t imply that I asked you to do it.
We, as teachers, want you to make sure your child knows he or she is loved, valued, and respected at home. Take the time to be a part of their lives and be engaged in their activities. Know who their friends are. Let them know how special they are. We might be teachers, but you are the parent. We have your child for one glorious year; you have them for a lifetime. Your influence means more than ours ever will.
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