Rewind: Memo from a Former Public School Teacher

I originally posted this in August 2008, and since it’s Back to School time, I thought I would re-post some of my tips for parents sending their children to school.  Before Ladybug was born, I taught second grade, so I’m not just typing fluff here, people!  I (kinda) know what I’m talking about! (Sometimes.)
1. Just stick with the supplies on the list. (The teacher made a list for a reason.)  Really your daughter doesn’t need the glitter pens.  And the teacher will be much happier without having to wipe glitter junk off your daughter’s desk every day.

2. Feel free to ask (anytime or all the time) if there are things you can send in to help in the classroom. Often supplies like hand sanitizer, wax paper, new crayons, glue sticks, Kleenex are NOT provided for teachers by schools (I know, gasp!) and a lot of times teachers end up replacing them out of their own pockets. (States do not under any circumstances pay teachers enough for this!)  In fact, skip the asking if you want and whenever you see something on sale at Wal-mart you think a teacher could use, buy it and send it in.

3. Don’t call during the school day. Chances are it’s not a good time. Think this one through– if I’m on the phone with you about so-and-so and such-and-such, who do you think is watching/teaching yourkid?!  Think before you call.

4. Give your child the benefit of a home routine. They should be in bed at a decent hour, they should have breakfast before coming to school– and have them pack their book bag each night, so homework and other important things aren’t “forgotten” in the morning.  If you help them build these habits, your life will be easier as they perform their night/morning rituals by themselves eventually!

5. Let your child be responsible for their own things. If they leave homework or something important at school, even though it might break your heart to not turn around and get it, it will help them so much in the long run to learn this lesson early! (Unbeknownest to your child, call and let the teacher know that you know that it got left, but you’re working on a lesson in responsibility– the teacher will understand!)

6. Know what’s going on in your child’s school day. They would probably love to tell you, have you ever asked?

7. Keep in mind that family secrets have a way of coming out at school– one time I had a seven year old student saying words that would need symbols for me to convey… the mom’s response? I have no idea where he would have heard that! Hmmm, you keep telling yourself that, lady!

8. Think about what your child is wearing before they go to school. In most elementary classes, students will sit on the floor during some part of the day– skirts aren’t very easy to sit in properly on the floor. Most schools have PE or outside play time each day– do you really want your daughter hanging upside down on the monkey bars in her Sunday best?  Think about the slogans your son’s T-shirt advertise too.  If you buy him shirts that say BAD ATTITUDE in bright orange, do you really have a right to complain when he’s disrespectful and rude to you (or to his teacher?)

9. The teacher is just as worried about what you think of her as you are about her opinion of you!Realize s/he is human. Yes, s/he has a degree in education, but she probably watches Dancing with the Stars too, be human with her!

10. Give the teacher a break. One of the most heartbreaking trends I’ve seen in education lately is the way parents will jump all over a teacher because “My child said…” This poor teacher is under-paid to handle a group of twenty (or more) kids. She ends up taking work home because there’s not enough time in the day, she scarfs down lunch in fifteen minutes and tries to make her students eat the veggies the cafeteria has served. She is constantly watching your student (and nineteen others) to see how they learn and what they’re having trouble with. She often does janitorial duty when a kid barfs in her room, and band-aids more boo boos than you could imagine. She has to keep clear, concise records of every kid in every subject along with portfolios, a grade book, and probably turns lesson plans in to her superior regularly. She is the disciplinarian of the class, trying to elicit good behavior long enough to teach the kids something new. While teaching she has to keep in mind that Jane has a learning disability and Suzie is labeled “Academically and Intellectually Gifted” and must have an extra challenge. She tries to see everything happening around her at every moment, but it’s just not possible. Please give her the benefit of the doubt. She is not picking on your child if he comes home in trouble. Are you really going to take the side of a seven year old (who has told you a few lies in his day) over a respectable, hard-working, qualified professional?

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