What Teachers Wish Parents and Students Knew
Last month, we posed a question to some of our teachers: what do you wish parents or students knew? We loved the answers so much that we decided to share them in full with you below.
"Middle school is a time to figure out how YOU learn. This comes with productive struggle. This experience occurs more often than making an A. Understanding how you process information is a necessary life lesson/skill. I hope the experience of productive struggle enlightens students on their educational path to success.
Students will fail. Some will fail harder than others, but this is the time when we want it to happen because it is occurring in a safe environment. We want to teach our students how to deal with failure by failing forward.
Our students' self-esteem should not be tied to a grade or their level of placement. Your placement doesn't make you better or less than your peers. When students compare themselves to their peers, they become blind to their own wonderful abilities. Regardless of where you are placed, 'bloom where you're planted' and shine."
--Tiffani Listenbee, Middle School
"First of all, I love for my students to know that I attended the school where I teach. I have literally been in their place, and I believe it helps me relate to their experiences even though the world has changed greatly. The same is true for parents. I have three sons in our school, so I am experiencing education through the eyes of a parent as well.
Secondly, I am a science teacher, but I bring to my classroom an additional wealth of experience from previously working as an actual scientist. I enjoy connecting our classroom lessons to what scientists actually do out in the "real world."
Lastly, I want students and parents to know that I care deeply and have the child's best interests at heart. If I have to tell a parent something that is difficult to hear, I feel their worry and pain. At school, we see a very different side of a child than parents see at home. We teachers have experience and a different perspective to offer."
--Danise Fields, Lower School
"For students: I wish students would think less about the end result and more about the process. While grades are important for college admissions, it is the actual journey to that moment which makes students prepared for the next step. I encourage my students to be engaged in society and be a contributing member of the community. To be honest, that doesn't mean that they have a perfect GPA or an A in my class; it means that they have a self-awareness that is critical for success. My favorite students are not the ones who "sweat the small stuff", but those who can have a good laugh and want to engage in conversation beyond the expected pleasantries.
For parents: I want each and every child in my classroom to succeed--end of story. When I sit in a parent-teacher conference to discuss a student's progress, my hope is that parents see the intent and the care. Sometimes, those aspects are lost in the shuffle or poor performance and evaluation, but the care and the desire for improvement never ceases. I want to find a balance where the student can thrive academically, but can also have fun and mature through other experiences. While many parents try to leverage cocurriculars against academics, I think it's important to show students that it isn't a "this or that" situation, but rather a larger conversation about better time management, effective communication, and using that same passion they have in cocurriculars for academics.
Community at large: Being a teacher is challenging. Finding avenues to connect with students requires us as faculty members to let down our guard and show our humanity in a way that isn't expected for many professions. Students are intelligent enough to see through the facade, so that willingness to simply "be yourself" can be difficult at times when sustaining the teacher-to-student construct. I have also found that some of my strongest bonds with students are created through experiences outside of the classroom. These non-evaluative relationships built through service learning, arts, or athletics play such an integral role in how school culture is shaped and defined. When students and parents see faculty and staff members as humans, rather than "grading machines", I think it changes the understanding of why we are all here in the first place."
--David Roth, Upper School
I wish you knew how much your children mean to me. While they are not my children, I often refer to them that way. My children. I say that because each of my students holds a special place in my heart and my mind. Their triumphs and heartaches also become mine. When I go home, I think about how to reach them, how to help them see the giftedness I see in each of them, and how to use each precious moment we have together to help them discover how much they matter in this world. Many times, my last thought before I fall asleep is of a student of mine. I worry, dream, and hope for my kids.
I want you to know I never take sharing concerns about your child with you lightly. I know that your unique bond with your child is precious, and I value your insights more than you will ever realize. Before meeting with you, I spend time getting to know your child, completing assessments, and working with her. I try different strategies to see how she learns. When I share concerns with you, I know that it may be difficult to see your child from my view. I take great care because I am talking to you about your everything. It is important to me to be honest with you because I am here to help your child grow. I hope you will hear through my words that we are a team, and I am here with you as we face challenges together. You are your child's greatest advocate, and I want to partner with you to help her blossom.
I want to admit to you that being a teacher is not easy. I chose this profession, and it chose me. I love what I do, but each day has challenges. Teaching goes beyond solid lesson plans and thoughtfully prepared activities. Throughout the day, I gladly take on many roles at once (a referee for a heated kickball game, a nurse for a paper cut, a listening ear when a beloved pet has died, a cheerleader for a reluctant writer, and so many more). I do this because I love my students, and I know my students' minds are not available to learn when the needs of their bodies and hearts are not met. It was clear from my first hectic day as a teacher that I will never be perfect at this, but I set my sights on being better for my students each day. I try to be the teacher your child deserves. I spend my free time reading and learning, so I can be better for your child. When I should turn off the teacher inside of me, I find myself exploring new ways to engage children--even on vacation.Teaching is my passion. I am proud to be a teacher.
I wish you knew that mistakes are good! Your child is not being challenged if he is not making some mistakes. Relish those mistakes and the tenacity it takes to face them and correct them. You can help me immensely by reinforcing that mistakes are a vital part of learning.
Speaking of mistakes, I make mistakes. I am still learning too! While my hope is that my only mistakes will be a typo here and there, it is possible that you may find yourself annoyed with me at some point. Please talk to me! I want to know what you and your child are feeling. I can only grow if you share your perceptions with me. When you talk to someone else about it, I never get to hear the context of your concerns. I also miss out on looking you in your eyes, so you may see my sincere desire to hear you. You never have to worry that your honesty will impact your child in a negative way. I love my students. They are my focus. We may find common ground on a topic or we may respectfully disagree, but your openness and honesty with me will always pave the way for us to continue to forge our partnership.
I am a teacher, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. While teaching and thinking about learning consume a great deal of my time, I relish time with my family. I have a habit of trying to be all things to all people, especially for parents and students. Sometimes, I need moments away from the teacher part of myself to be there for my own family. I hope you understand when I cannot talk late in the evening or during family time at our house.
Parents, you are your child's first teachers and their most important role models. I humbly thank you for entrusting me with your children."
--Carrie Edmison, Primary School