What parents want most from teachers. Hm. Is this even a thing?
Isn’t this like asking what a woman wants in a man? (The correct answer is: Which woman?)
Some parents like a relaxed classroom, while others want strict vigilance. Some want frequent communication, while others are good with a biannual PTC. Some want lots of excitement and adventure for their child, and others think Really? Another event I have to fund?
Let’s face it: Parents expect a lot. And what we expect varies.
But what we want most – ah, there we can find a few common themes. I’ve listened to other parents, and I know I’m not alone in my greatest desires.
All parents want a teacher’s honesty – even when we don’t like it.
We want to know that what we see is what we get, that what we’ve been promised will come true, and that the school’s problems will be confessed instead of covered over. We want to know that teachers are human, with real personalities and emotions and ambitions and sins. We want to hear your goals and see through your eyes. Most of all, when we ask how our child is doing (or when we don’t) we really want you to tell us the truth.
Your candor may hurt. But your reticence will hurt worse.
We don’t want to find out about the spankings after five of them have happened. We don’t want you to come to us at your wit’s end in frustration over a behavior issue we didn’t know existed.
We trust you with our most precious gift: our children. At times we take your care of them for granted, but the upside of this is what we’re actively trusting in you to communicate with us what we need to know. Please.
Parents want differing levels of involvement in their child’s education; that goes without saying. But we all want to feel included and involved. We hope you will seek our input, value our perspective, and honor our family preferences if you can.
The best way to motivate people is to help them belong to a team. We like the comradery of school events, and the goodies and eye contact and firm handshakes when we show up at the door, and the feeling that we’re important to the life of the school. When we experience being respected and included, we are much less likely to make waves about x, y, and z.
(X, y, and z being our favorite niggling issues to grouse about. So I just thought I’d share that little secret with you. You’re welcome.)
If there is one thing I want most from the other adults in my child’s life, it is to know they will never give up on him.
You may be a newcomer, a first time teacher, or a two-year volunteer, but patron parents still need to know that you have jumped in with both feet and are in this for the long-term good. We want you to hang in there through the hard times, to believe in the best when the worst is showing, to paint us a shining picture of what could be, if we have faith enough to see it through.
(It’s a tall order, isn’t it? I’m sorry – that’s why we’re paying you such big money.)
At times, you will know something we don’t. You will know our child is dyslexic while we’re brushing it off as him being shy about reading aloud. You may realize our child has emotional hungers, while we’re wanting you to mend her actions. You may grow alarmed by test scores or troubling behaviors before we do – Oh, he’s fine! He’s just a little tired.
Do not give up.
Do not give up on our child, and do not give up your steady pressure on us, your fight on his behalf. How we need it! Next to us, you are the adult who knows him best; often you see him more clearly than we do. This is the great beauty of Christian education outside of the home.
Teachers, keep up the good work.
That is what parents want most.
With thanks to the staff of Faith Builders Christian School, for being trustworthy and a gift to our children.
CONTRIBUTOR: Shari Zook