Wowing the Parents

Here in Georgia, we start school early in August for some reason I am unable to fathom. It is cooler in Georgia in June than in August, so it stands to reason that we would be better served in terms of cooling/electricity costs if we started in September and went through later in June. However, no one asked me. I don’t think it would overlap with college semesters, which was the ostensible reason given for starting in August.

At any rate, my own three children started back last Monday, and my students will start on this coming Monday. My eldest is in 8th grade, my middle one is in 1st grade, and my baby started pre-K. The eldest is happy to be the big cheese in middle school. I asked her language arts teacher which books they might read (because I’m nosy), but she hasn’t definitely decided yet. My middle one’s teacher is on maternity leave, which is tough for transition, but there’s not much to be done, I suppose. My youngest is in a great special needs pre-K class — five students — with an amazing teacher who already has my undying gratitude and loyalty.

Which leads me to a question I wanted to ask you all. What does it for you with your own kids’ teacher(s)? What I mean is, as teachers yourselves, what do you look for or notice that makes the difference for you between a good teacher or a great one? Given what you know about teaching, what does your own child’s teacher have to do to make you sit up and take notice?

I realize my son’s teacher (as a special ed teacher) simply has to go the extra mile because the nature of working with special needs students requires it. She has shared photos with us on Snapfish (I cannot link to her photos, nor would I if I could due to privacy concerns), created journals so we can share information back and forth, and responded promptly to e-mails, but more than that, she did little things to make me feel comfortable leaving my son in her hands. She gave him a picture of herself before school started so he could get used to her face. She gave me an exact copy of their schedule so I can see what he’s doing during the day. She is arranging parent night around all our schedules because we have kids in other schools (his school is not our “home” school because our home school cannot accommodate a special needs pre-K class). You just can’t imagine how scary it is to send a child like my son to school for the first time unless you’ve had to do it, and it’s been an amazing experience.

So what about you? What can a teacher do for your children that wows you? And what do you plan to do to wow the parents of your own students?

[tags]education, teaching[/tags]

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6 thoughts on “Wowing the Parents

  1. Well, I don't have kids of my own (yet!) but I did accompany my nephew to his 9th grade orientation, and I think my experience as a teacher makes me hold other teachers to higher expectations. During the orientation, there were questions I asked that I think would not have occurred to my sister or other parents to ask.

    For my students' parents, I think they are wowed by the fact that I really try to advocate for them. So many of the parents in the school where I work are unfamiliar with school politics and aren't really aware of the rights they have as parents. I'm on the side of the kids, always while trying to walk the line between not undermining school administrators and giving my kids what they need.

  2. Nancy, I think my "wow" factor is probably technology. I have a SMART Board and use blogs and wikis, which is not something the other teachers really do much (if at all) — well, some of them use SMART Boards, but anyway, they are usually pretty impressed with that.

  3. I don't have kids of my own, either, but I think one of my wow-factors is that I try super-hard to let the students be autonomous. Those students are people with minds of their own, and bossing and treating them like mindless robots makes no sense. I have heard parents that I know complain about how teachers try to make their kids fit a mold, and I really try to avoid that. I think that can certainly be encouraging and wowing.

  4. Have an open class room policy. Anytime I want to drop by, I can, no warning, no appointment etc. The younger the child the more important this is. But it is good policy no matter the age (of course in high school they'll have their own children to deal with in opposition, but it is still good policy).

    In your narrative, I get some warning signals from the 8th grade LA teacher who doesn't know what she is going to do for the year. Okay, maybe not all the details, but, gee, shouldn't she be able to list a couple of pieces?

  5. Hi Pat. Actually, what I didn't make clear is that the teacher has to choose selections from a list, and the county hasn't given it to her yet. She is thinking of a few choices, but she can't make a final decision until she sees the list. So in this case, it's the county at fault and not her.

    As to the open classroom policy, I don't like the idea, and here is why: parents often try to conference with me when that happens. If you would like to silently sit in on a lesson, I have no problems with that, but I have big problems with parents who interfere with the learning of students in the classroom by dropping by unannounced.

  6. When my kids were in school — both now grown up, or at least their ID says they are — I was wowed by teachers who knew their subject area flat and who remembered important things about my kids' interests. I try to be that kind of teacher now.

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