Teachers may just be the most important adult figures in a young person’s life after parents. Usually, with a little work, the relationship between the two sides has the potential to be a huge boost to the child at the centre. But if they both have different ideas of what is best, then it can be a forced and sometimes uncomfortable relationship.
For the parent, handing over their child for the first time to someone who will see their offspring for more hours in the day than they will is a tough â€˜lesson’ to take. So why not make a proper introduction and encourage a proper relationship?
The first step is for the parent (for ease of writing we’ll say it’s the dad and son although it could just as easily be the mom/daughter) to introduce himself to the teacher. Little Johnny might be the apple of your eye but the teacher, probably just as nervous about the first day as you are, has 20 or 30 apples to count with multiple little personalities with different needs, wants and abilities.
So get ahead of the game by meeting the teacher and asking if you can have a quick chat. Tell them about your son/daughter â€“ likes and dislikes, family situation, hobbies, illnesses/allergies and anything else you feel is relevant. Include a note if possible, with your email address and mobile number; using a system such as Parentmail will make the process far easier.
But don’t try and tell the teacher how to do their job â€“ comments such as â€˜Don’t try to teach him French’ or ‘She hates sport, I wouldn’t bother’ are assuming and almost insulting. Your first impression and attitude should be that the teacher will try to do the best for your child â€“ that is the whole point of their career, after all.
When your child comes home, talk to him about the day. Build up an idea in your mind about the relationship between him and the teacher, and read newsletters and notes sent home. Check the school website, Facebook and Twitter accounts to learn about the school as a whole. If your child comes back enthused about their learning there is nothing wrong with thanking the teacher for their work â€“ sadly, you might be the only parent who does so â€“ and there are many ways to do so, as this article from Edutopia proves.
Should the child report trouble, don’t just fire off an angry missive to the teacher. Find out exactly what happened in the child’s own words, and then make a judgement to take it further â€“ or not. Unfortunately no child is perfect, despite what many parents believe. You’ll know your son, and if the teacher is doing their job you’ll get to know them as well, so only if something seems outrageous or strange should you need to get in touch.
Recent research from the ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) published in the Guardian shows that more than half of teachers in state schools have faced aggression from pupils in the last year, and 80% believe student behaviour has declined because society has become less respectful as a whole.
So remember three simple things when you’re preparing to unload both barrels towards a teacher: Teaching is not easy, teachers continue to learn through their career, and it’s not always their fault. You don’t have to like your child’s teacher, but you do have to be realistic.
This is a guest post. Links have been provided. Image via Google.