Let’s Get Real About Teacher Appreciation: Part 2

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Hopefully, by now you’ve read Part 1 of this 2 part series and know that Teacher Appreciation Day is today, May 7th. I’ve already talked to you about some very tangible things you can do to celebrate teachers, but now I want to talk to you about why you should show your child’s teacher that you appreciate him/her all year by respecting the decisions made in the classroom. Buckle up, I may get on my soapbox just a little bit here.

Teachers are leaving this profession regularly. Some, like me, are doing it to spend more time with their own kids. However, many are leaving because of various job pressures. Some of that unwanted pressure is, believe it or not, coming from parents. Let me be clear, in my 9 years of teaching I only had a very small handful of parents that made my job difficult or less enjoyable, but that small handful still stands out in my mind today.

I want to talk to you, mom-to-mom/former teacher, about how to handle conflict with a teacher in a way that is constructive. Your child will, at some point in their 12-year educational journey, come across a bad teacher. Yep, there are bad teachers just like there are bad doctors, bad contractors, bad realtors, etc. You may also have a situation that creates conflict between you and a good teacher. I wholeheartedly believe that in either of these cases, this conflict needs to be handled in a way that still shows that teacher, good or bad, appreciation. Why? Because that teacher is in charge of more than your child’s education. That teacher (or librarian, teacher’s assistant, principal, gym coach, whoever) is in charge of your child’s safety. That teacher has actively thought about the best place to hide your child should something awful occur. That teacher has gone through all of the “what ifs” and how they might be handled. You are placing your child’s safety in the hands of that teacher, and that alone should be cause for you to treat them with respect and appreciation.

So what does that look like? Fear not, mama, I am about to give you some tips on showing appreciation to teachers even through conflict. One thing that really bothers teachers is when you go straight to the principal or assistant principal (their boss) before speaking to the teacher about it. Can you imagine if someone went to your boss about something that you had no idea was even an issue? Give the teacher a chance to respond before you go over his or her head. The one time a parent went to my principal first, it was about a grading policy that I had no control over. If the mom had contacted me first, I could have explained that I was just following district policy and that it was out of my hands. Instead, she fired off a very heated email (yep, my principal showed me) telling the principal how unfair I was and she ended up just looking silly. Always give the teacher a chance to explain or respond first.

Never say anything negative about your child’s teacher in front of your child. You would think this one would be a no brainer, but you would be surprised. Most elementary age kids love their teacher and love their parents. It puts them in a difficult position if they hear you saying negative things about someone they love. Even if they don’t love their teacher, their teacher is still an authority figure over them. By degrading or name calling the teacher, you are showing them it’s OK to be disrespectful and that is just going to get them in trouble.

When a situation happens that needs to be addressed, wait 24 hours before firing off an angry email. This is probably good advice for life in general. Give yourself time to cool off and not say something in the heat of the moment that you might regret later.

Finally, keep in mind that even the worst teachers want to see your child succeed in school and in life. I’ve seen some bad teachers that probably shouldn’t be teaching. However, I’ve never once seen a teacher that’s “out to get” a student the way I’ve heard parents make it seem sometimes. Your child’s teacher may struggle with how to help your child reach their potential, but I guarantee they want to see them get there. Any time you sit down and talk with your child’s educator, remember that you are on the same team. You want the same outcome.

Teachers are in a tough position between meeting the expectations of parents who, understandably, want the best for their kids and the legislature who want high test scores at all costs. Just remember to be appreciative to the people who are in charge of keeping your child safe.

Lubbock area teachers, thank you for all that you do from all of us here at Lubbock Moms Blog!