Lesson: Recently, I came across two parents having a pretty heated conversation about one of their child’s teachers. The unfortunate part was that they were having this conversation with two children standing there listening to every word they said. 🙁 The thought that immediately came to my mind was, “They have no idea the damage they are doing.”
As I walked away from that conversation, I reflected on a lesson that I was taught through observing many parents, students, and teachers over the years, and it was simply the importance of being on the same page with your child’s teacher, especially in your child’s presence. It is fair to say that parents and teachers won’t always agree and won’t always see eye to eye, but they should always have a unified goal focused on the child. Unfortunately, too often, when there is a disagreement, the focus shifts and the goal turns into both parties trying to prove their point and the best interest of the child is lost.
I have observed many parents make this mistake, time and time again. If we as parents don’t respect our child’s teacher, then we give our children the green light not to respect them either. It is true that teachers aren’t perfect and some may be disrespectful themselves, however, we have a responsibility to teach our children to respect authority and if we don’t someone else will.
The elephant in the room that some parents can’t see is that more than likely their child’s teacher is with their child more waking hours in a day than they are! Teachers have direct influence over the type of day our children have. Why would you want to make that person an enemy or be at odds with them? When this happens parents are unknowingly sabotaging their child’s potential for maximum success because whether we want to admit it or not, whether you like your child’s teacher or not, they have the power to set up our child for failure or success. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, most teachers who feel supported and appreciated by parents will work harder to make sure that child is successful and cared for at school. No, it’s not right but it’s real, it’s human nature that you can’t defy.
I do have to say that this article is not saying to give a pass to poor teachers or teachers that are exhibiting unacceptable behaviors. I want to be clear that those things should be addressed with administrators involved but even so, there is a way to do it where you can still keep the focus on the best interest of the child respectfully. Ultimately, parents have the final authority on where their children go to school, so if you are that displeased, then I believe it’s better to leave a school then to have a school year of a tug of war session between a parent and a teacher. In the end, the child loses and the parent has modeled behavior that will follow that child for the rest of their life.
So, in the mind frame of being on the same page and supporting our children’s teachers, here are 5 steps we all can try to avoid in the quest to not undermine their authority in their classroom:
- Avoid not following through with parental responsibilities: This means checking homework, signing forms and agendas, turning in field trip slips or surveys on time, participating in parent-teacher conferences, and PTO meetings, etc. Showing my child that school is important and that “I” need to fulfill my responsibilities & do my part to partner with her teacher and be on the same page, is an important thing for me to model.
- Avoid modeling how to disobey authority: For example, if the school rule is to not park in the handicap spot unless you’re handicap and you do it time and time again, you are showing your child that the rules can be broken. Or, if you are responsible for checking their homework in the evenings and you tell them to just put their folder in their bag and have their teacher check it, then you are again sending the message that they can disregard direction from the teacher.
- Avoid talking about their disagreements and dislike that you have with or toward the teacher in FRONT of the children: If we don’t care for the personality of our child’s teacher or if we don’t like something that they are doing, then we should address it with the teacher directly instead of complaining about it in front of our children.
- Avoid challenging the teacher’s intelligence: One year I had a student sent to my office because he told his teacher she wasn’t too bright. Yes, I’m serious that really happened! When I asked him why in the world he would say something like that, he replied, “My dad said she isn’t too bright.” Needless to say, for the rest of the school year that student struggled with showing his teacher respect. I had to deal with him in my office, time and time again because he was disrespecting his teacher. A seed of disrespect that was sown by his parent.
- Avoid gossiping about the teacher with other parents: I can’t overemphasize this point enough! As an administrator, it was brought to my attention a countless amount of times that parents have been overheard talking about a teacher IN THE SCHOOL BUILDING. Or, a parent would come to my office with a complaint and they’d say all the other parents think so too. Again, not productive! Not only is not productive, but it often causes unnecessary divide and it puts the teacher on the defense once it gets back to them, and trust me it always gets back to them. Furthermore, if you really want change, gossiping and complaining about an issue is not going to bring about a solution, all it really does is magnify the problem
So I know some people may be saying, easy for you to say, your child just started school, and that is true but like I’ve said in the past, these are lessons I have learned from others over the years, and I am trying to implement them into my parenting journey by the grace of God. It is very different being on the other side of teacher and administrator, but with effort and lots of prayer :), this side will be even more enriching than the experiences I had being apart of the school system.
Application: Reflect on the 5 steps to avoid and determine if you practice any of those steps. If so, make a plan on how you can put the avoidance into action this school year and then watch your child benefit from your wise choices!
Remember” “I never try to make my experiences or knowledge a principle or standard for others but I share my experiences and knowledge with others hoping that through sharing, I might positively impact, inspire & empower some else’s life.” Jill