Saturday, December 4, 2010

Things Teachers Want You to Know

(These are just some of my observations – and the observations of some of my colleagues. I have worked in a very poor school, and a more middle class school. Please keep in mind that this may not apply to all schools, or that not all parents are this way. I also teach older elementary/middle school aged students. Also, keep in mind that I do know that there are some very unreasonable teachers out there!)

Parent/Teacher Relations

I love your child. Even if they can make me crazy, I do love them. I think about them all day long, worry about them, and miss them when I don’t see them.

I appreciate all parents. I know parenting is really hard work. Combine that with other commitments, and I don’t know how you stay sane!

I appreciate you keeping in touch with me. I know that can be hard (on your end and mine) but touching base really helps us understand your child better.

Please come to me if there is a problem.  I know it can be uncomfortable, but I want to try and solve it right away.  It can be uncomfortable for me, too!

Please contact me if you have a problem, not the principal first.  There are extreme cases where the principal needs to be contacted immediately, but most things can be solved with me, first.  Going to the principal first makes us feel a) blindsided b) like you don’t trust us and c) it makes more work for he or she, when it probably was simple enough for me to take care of.  I am more aware of the situation than the principal.

Remember, being fair doesn’t mean being equal to all.  I will be fair at all times, but there are different situations for each student.

For better or for worse, your child probably acts differently when you aren’t around.  I am astounded when I see students with their parents.  They typically, not always, act very differently than they do at school.

I know it can be hard, but try and read the notes sent home.  I know you are bombarded but it is very helpful if you stay informed.

I agree, you are asked way too often for money or for your time.

If I have ever hot-lined you, you probably don’t know about it.  Probably anyone reading this hasn’t been hot-lined.  Please know that I am a MANDATED reporter.  I must, by law, report any suspicions. This means that I have made careful observations and documented things.  I did not call on a whim or call because I was mad at you.  Also know that hot-lining a family is a horrible experience, no matter how bad the abuse.  I am aware that I am altering your family life forever.

Relationships with Other Students

I will try my best to make sure everyone gets along.  Sometimes in life, you have to deal with people that you don’t care for.  Please teach your child this important lesson.

Please don’t ask me about another student’s private life.  There are many things that can be going on in their life (divorce, illness, abuse, etc.) that I cannot tell you about.  Don’t put me in an awkward position.

As much as I try to keep an eye on everyone, I cannot watch 30 children at once, or listen to every conversation they have all day long – including lunch and recess.

I will do my best to resolve any student-to-student conflict.  Keep in mind that I am not the other child’s parent, and that I only can do so much – I have rules to follow as well.

Keep in mind that I have to deal with a class full of students, each with their own problems. Sometimes other students may be acting the way they are because of problems at home that I cannot tell you about.


I try to be reasonable.  I will never send you a project at the last minute or a huge assignment to be completed the next day.  If that happens, there probably is a communication gap with your child.

Keep in mind that it is hard for me to keep up with grading assignments.  I could grade papers 24 hours a day and still not be finished.  I have to eat and sleep sometime.  I will return papers as soon as possible.

Please do not ask me unreasonable things such as to call you every night and tell you what your child’s homework is.  Unless there is a different circumstance that I am willing to work with, your child should be completing a planner each night to let you know of their assignments.  They need to be learning responsibility.

We have a homework policy for a reason.  You signed it, stating that you and your child read it together and understand it.   I know most people don’t read what they sign, but I have it here as proof. Your child needs to know that the electric company won’t accept late payment without a penalty. Don’t enable your child. Teach them to be responsible themselves.


I hate fundraisers.  I think children are asked WAY too often to sell things for various causes.

Please do not allow your child to sell things to teachers.  Remember, we have 30 kids (I actually have 120) and they are all selling something.  If I purchase from each of them, I will have no money.  And I hate seeing their crushed faces if I do not purchase from them.

Please remember that I have to purchase many, many school supplies with my own money.  It gets costly to do things like science experiments.

Please also keep in mind that there are less fortunate students in our class.  I may not be able to buy a fundraising item from you because I have just paid for five students to go to the after school class party, five students to go on a field trip, and purchased clothing for another student.

It really burns my hide when I pay for a field trip because a student cannot afford it, then they show up with $100 for souvenirs.  That happens more than you know.

I think it is as thoughtful as you can be if you can afford to donate extra money for an event for a student who cannot afford the event without financial help.

On the other hand, please tell me if you can't afford something!  I am willing to help or can find someone else who will.


Please don’t feel that you have to give me a gift.  It is certainly VERY appreciated, and it is nice to know you care.  But don’t stress out over one or spend money you don’t have.

I appreciate kind notes just as much or more than a gift - from you and from your child.  I keep all notes from all students and parents.  I just want to know that my work is appreciated.

If you feel that you must get us something, keep in mind that most of us don’t collect apples.  I have a closet full of teacher-y, apple gifts.  While I treasure them for their meaning, and appreciate it more than you know, I have a lot of apple paperweights, apple pictures, blah blah blah.

Good ideas – a candy bar now and then, maybe a bottle of water, flowers (from your home garden or not), plants, gift certificates, books for the classroom, etc.


You think you are sick of hearing about state testing?? So are we!

It is a lot of pressure for us because we are evaluated on student performance. Students who maybe don’t do well on tests (but they do well on a day to day basis), students who are feeling ill, students who went to bed too late, students who are hungry, etc.  I even had a student gone all year because he had cancer.  He had to come back for testing and couldn’t even stay awake for the test.  Bless his heart.

I will never value your student for their test performance.  I care more about seeing academic and personal growth throughout the year.


Please remember that we have a life, too.  If it is an emergency, I am happy to talk to you outside of school.  Otherwise, unless I have specifically given you my home number, take care of it in the morning.  Send me a note, e-mail, a phone call at school, or a visit.

Please don’t let your child call me just to chat, either.

Please keep in mind that we want to have a life outside of school.  This means sometimes we will want to go out to eat, see a movie, have a drink with dinner, etc.  I try very hard to be a good role model. Please don’t judge me because you see me on a date or anything like that.

Working with Older Students

I work in a building with older students.  Generally, parents seem less and less interested about the teachers and about their child’s schooling as they get older.

We love the kids just as much as a kindergarten teacher loves their students!  We spend just as much time working with them.  Middle school kids are especially hormonal and crazy, all the more reasons to remind teachers now and then that you appreciate them!

We think the world of you if you take the time to come to a 15-minute conference or other school meetings.  It’s nice to know that parents still care.


  1. Hey grammar police -- I believe the expression is blind sided, not blind sighted!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. This coming from Miss "Twenty-o-ten"? :)

  4. This really should be copied and passed out to every parent at the beginning of school.



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