What do you have to gain by developing a positive relationship with your child’s teachers? A lot more than you might have thought!
One late-summer day, I was busy setting up my classroom when a woman and her son peeked in… Donna and Luke. I was just transferring into the school and Luke would be in my class that year; they stopped by to warmly welcome me. Somehow, I immediately knew then that Donna was going to be a great parent to work with!
Sure enough, a few days into the first week, Debbie delivered a plate of her (now) infamous brownies, with a “thank you” note tucked on top. She thanked me for the Parent Handbook I sent home on the first day and wished me a restful weekend. Debbie was a teacher in another district; she had a lot of empathy for the amount of time it took for me to prepare the Handbooks.
About once a month, Debbie continued to do small things to let me know that she appreciated my effort. Sometimes she sent in a goodie bag of her latest homemade treats or would jot a short note on Logan’s homework to tell me how much he learned from our latest science experiment.
It became very natural for me to give Logan some specialized attention simply because I knew my efforts were being recognized.
I was NOT “playing favorites. I simply honed in on Logan more quickly than other children for two reasons: 1) I knew his mother appreciated my efforts, and 2) she provided frequent feedback (in a kind manner) about what was helpful for her son.
Logan was a bright student, but had difficulty learning how to read. He was good at math, but reading -with all of the “exceptions to the rules: that are characteristic of the English language- did not register naturally in Logan’s “logical mind.”
Over time, I was able to personalize his instruction. For example, I found books that were interesting to Logan: math-based stories, books about designing automobiles, and how to do origami. His interest in these topics provided important background to help him understand what he was reading and, more importantly, motivated him to read! His mother credits this as the major turning point for him learning how to read and she was even more grateful than ever before!
I have to admit, however, I felt guilty accepting her praise. It is human nature to gravitate and respond to positive feedback. As a teacher, Debbie was simply being the kind of parent that she would have wanted in her class. What she did not realize is that her efforts inspired me to tune into her son and be more effective as his teacher. She also inspired me to be a better parent, myself.
My two-year-old son goes to daycare part-time and his teachers have made our lives wonderful. Their compassion and professionalism give me great confidence and allow my son to love “school.” Debbie inspired me to share my appreciation with his teachers by sending in little gifts or short notes describing something nice my son has said about them. As a result, I learned another great benefit about being a positive parent; when I have a problem or concern, his teachers respond right away and graciously work with me because they know I respect them.
*** Action Plan ***
Regardless of your child’s age –preschool or high school- you can show support for teachers. Keep in mind that middle and high school students will not want to take in a plate of cookies for each of their teachers. However, even if your child is older and has several teachers, you can do simple things to touch base:
– Send an email to say “thank you” for a progress report or to tell the teacher something nice your child said about him/her.
– Drop a candy bar in the teachers’ mail boxes with a note attached (i.e. “Some fuel for the first day of school. Welcome back and thanks for all you do!”)
– Around the holidays, consider sending in a small value gift certificate to a local coffee shop or deli.
These are just a few examples of the countless small and inexpensive ways to show appreciation.
One note of caution: Always be genuine! Never say something you do not mean or teachers will be wary. Do not be too flowery or you will turn them off. Short notes, kind words, and small tokens of appreciation are all you need to make a teacher’s day.
*** In Conclusion… ***
Share your appreciation with your child’s teachers and you will:
– Give a much needed morale boost to teachers.
– Naturally encourage them to pay greater attention to your child, which will make his/her education more effective. -and- – Promote greater cooperation from teachers when you have to address a problem or concern.
It is never too late to let teachers know that you value their contribution to your child’s life. You and your child will reap great returns from your efforts!