Where do I start? How do I put in words what I really want to say without being judgmental or rude? I don't know, so I am just going to put my thoughts out there and hopefully as early childhood teachers we can all learn something from my reflections of being on the parent side of kindergarten!
Here's what I learned about my job as a teacher this year as a teacher being on the parent side:
1. Watch what you say to parents. How you say things and what you say means different things to the parents. You may be trying to help, but a quick conversation in passing can cause lots of restless nights on the parent side.
2. Be consistent with parents. Don't say one thing to one parent and another to the other. It makes it seem as if you are not 100% committed to excellence and just saying what you need to say to survive the conversation!
3. Pay attention to where you are putting your focus. If you have a student who is struggling with the alphabet and writing, then don't do small groups on a science topic. That just makes no sense.
4. Don't judge parenting by the child. Each child has their own reasons for why they act certain ways. And if you have a child who is acting out with one parent over another, that's just part of the job. Find a way to deal with because it cannot be undone overnight. And don't assume that they are not working on it.
5. If a parent asks to meet with you, you should honor it. It should be a private meeting between you and the parent and should not include other people. If you want to schedule a meeting with other people involved, then I suggest you meet with them first and then refer it to whomever else needs to be involved. This makes the parent feel as if they are being they are being ganged up on. I don't know about you but that is not how I want my parents to feel!
6. Make sure you are saying what is being seen by the parents. If you are saying the student has a hard time walking in line, but the student can walk in line out to dismissal and in class each morning that makes no sense. Makes the parents feel as if you are either singling them out or not really watching what is going on.
7. Watch how much homework your kids have. Just read this book and do this worksheet and practice your sight words and practice writing your name will quickly turn into way too much homework! I understand the push of the Common Core but you need to get kids moving but how much time are you monopolizing at home?
8. Reach out to your parents! Don't let the first interaction be a negative one or one in which they feel they have to explain or defend their child (educational or behavioral.)
And most of all... you get what you give to your students. If you see them as hassles, they will give you hassles. If you spend time with them and work hard, then they will work hard too! I have now lived it and can honestly say...
You as a teacher ARE impacting what the child is learning! Take ownership and work with your parents! There is an element of customer service in education that we never really reflect on. I think that's my biggest AHA... what type of customer service am I providing my students and parents with? Good food for thought I think!
Do you have kids in school? Did you have any AHA's as a teacher when your students started school or now? Please post your thoughts!
Jennifer from Simply Kinder!
(Graphics from Dreamlike Magic Designs!)