The best gift I could receive during Teacher Appreciation Week is not a gift card or a book - it's not even tickets to a Cardinal baseball game! The best way parents can show teachers that they are appreciated is by partnering with us to help their students reach high standards.
Parents and guardians are a teacher’s most important collaborators. Take parent-teacher conferences. These meetings are usually the only time I really have the chance to learn from my students’ parents, and I am always so glad when I do. This year, I spoke with a parent whose student is autistic and learned that he sits alone every day in the lunchroom. I spoke with a grandmother whose student struggles with writing, and I learned that his sister was working with him and needed some advice. I spoke with a parent who worried that her child believed he was a poor reader based on one standardized assessment score. I spoke with a single parent whose daughter frequently missed my class because the parent left for work before her daughter left for school. I spoke with a mother who assumed her son was a troublemaker and was visibly pleased when I was able to point out his progress. Even though students’ struggles are often heartbreaking, I always feel better equipped to help them after hearing their parents’ concerns and suggestions about their students’ educational experience. Every student deserves individual attention and tailored instruction, and who is more important and invested than parents in this effort?
Unfortunately, though parent-teacher conferences are important, parents need to be more involved in their students’ education in order to truly make an impact. Communication between educators and parents needs to be a priority for schools, especially in high school when parental involvement typically decreases. Parents need to be informed about what the grade- level expectations are for their children and how to help them meet those expectations. Parents also need to learn strategies to help their children be successful. Schools need to play a bigger part in making this happen. And believe it or not, the best gift you can give your child’s teacher is to be involved in this process.
No matter what your child’s school is doing to involve parents, there are some ways that you can partner with your child’s teacher to help your student reach important goals. So how can you partner with us?
Meet with your child’s teacher before or early in the school year. Teachers can learn valuable information about your student from a one-on-one meeting that will support their education throughout the year. Talking to your child’s teacher at the time of the first progress report is also very important.
Be present at the school building. Whenever your schedule allows for it, take every opportunity possible to be at your child’s school in the classroom, the lunchroom, the library, at special events. - Just physically being in the building is a huge step in teacher-parent communication. Your presence also shows your child that you value their education.
Communicate regularly. Both teachers and parents should take the time for phone calls and e-mails with one another to provide information, encouragement, advice, and direction. Even though we are all busy, communication is essential and these updates could save time in the long run.
Review grade-level academic standards. Standards explain what is expected of your student for a particular school year. Parent Toolkit has grade-level Math and English Language Arts benchmarks that explain the skills expected of their students each year. Understanding the concepts that your child is learning will help your child’s teacher immensely in the classroom, and will also be important for you in supporting your child at home.
Discuss learning strategies with your child’s teacher. Teachers can provide parents with research-based strategies to help students with their learning in the classroom. Review these strategies so you can discuss with your child’s teacher or with groups of parents at Open Houses or PTO/PTA meetings.
Accept feedback. If teachers provide consistent feedback to parents through newsletters, websites, online homework portals, and social media accounts, really take to heart what they say. Teachers are trained to support your child in their learning, but they can’t do it alone.
Meaningful communication with parents is a gift which helps us teachers do our job of helping students meet their potential. We value the insights and concerns of parents. If you want to show that you appreciate our work during Teacher Appreciation Week, partner with us. We cannot do this job effectively on our own.