Sunday, July 27, 2014

What if we showed greater appreciation for our teachers?

  Being a public school teacher is a pretty thankless job on most days. For the past seven years or more, we have frozen their wages, introduced merit-based pay for whole classrooms that score higher than average, and we have strapped and limited their creativity in teaching lessons they were trained to teach in college. How many doe-eyed teachers walk into a classroom their first year and think by the end of the year that college did not prepare them at all? The percentages that leave the profession within the first five years are astounding and because of the way Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, and the Common Core Curriculum have been introduced my mean that the job market will soon be glutted with qualified teachers who don't want to use their training.

We may not be able to change the federal guidelines but what if we could show new and veteran teachers how much we appreciate them?

  What can you do, as a parent, to appreciate your child's teacher? I have compiled a few thoughts below that will not only show how much you appreciate them, but improves your relationship with present teachers and future teachers. 

  • Help your child's teacher understand that you are a team in your child's education. There is a direct connection between parental involvement and student's success rate. It's not about socioeconomic status, as I have seen parent's from various backgrounds experience the same success rates if they are actively communicating with a teacher. One parent that I know has six children in school, we are in still in contact when she needs advice on how to extend their learning or what to add at home when they don't feel challenged enough. Please, don't stop after elementary school, keep involved all the way through college! Not sure about this? Check this out!
  • Check in with your child's teacher or volunteer as your time allows. You may join the various PTAs and support your child's overall school experience or volunteer one day a month as your schedule allows. But don't forget to ask how your teacher is doing on a personal level. Building a relationship lets a teacher feel supported. 
  • Always treat a teacher professionally. There will be times that you don't agree with each other. Expect that but always treat them as professionals.
  • Do know when you are being a helicopter parent. Involvement may be tantamount but do teach your child that they are in charge of their own education and that they need to ask or discuss when they don't understand the lesson or need more resources.
  • You know those holidays like Christmas and the end of the year? Don't forget those. While the little and cute store bought items are nice, I have found from talking to teachers that gift cards or certificates work best. My music students usually gave me gift cards to the local music shop which helped me purchase replacement materials, like reeds, for my saxophone or it helps me purchase new teaching materials. You don't have to get your teacher a gift card for a spa day (although he or shee will love you forever for it!) but something that helps alleviate their budget burden since many teachers spend their own salary on supplies for the classroom. I generally recommend Barnes and Noble or Staples. Of course, I love the "Summer Survival Basket" one of my friends put together for her children's teachers! Nothing wrong with being creative! 
End-of-year baskets made by Stephanie Yost: Here's the list: beach towel, sunscreen, travel cup, water holder, water gun, chocolates, portable water bottle, cooling towel, sleeping mask, pedi spa lotion and socks, and a gift card for Darden Restaurants.

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