The best way forward between parents and teachers!
The age old question, “What do parents want from teachers and what do teachers want from parents?”, crops up each and every year. The answer to these questions is not easy and it takes work from all parties concerned to make sure that the outcome is a positive one.
When I started teaching in 1970 my first parent meeting was daunting to say the least. I knew I was going to have to answer many questions from my parents, this been the first time, I did not know what to expect. There I stood a young, inexperienced teacher before an expectant group of parents. I was looking into the eyes of parents, all of who were waiting for me to deliver my ‘speech’ and most importantly of all, discuss with them how was I going to manage the teaching of their most prized and valuable ‘possessions’. I was dumbstruck and a wave of nausea and panic came over me.
From the far corner of my classroom an elderly gentleman (he was a grandfather and a retired teacher) stood up introduced himself and asked if he could say a few words. He introduced himself and continued.
“Dear Miss. I understand this is your first year teaching. A formidable task lies ahead for you. Not only will you have to shoulder the expectations of your pupils but also those of their parents. I know how you feel and if you don’t mind would like to offer some advice to you and all the folk in this room.” I was hesitant but was relieved that someone else was in the spotlight for that moment. I was hoping and praying that this would go well. He continued. “Unless we respect you for choosing to embark on one of the most valuable professions available and if, as a united body of parents, we do not support or communicate in a positive way with you, we cannot expect you to do this on your own.”
I could have run up to him and thrown my arms around him.
At that moment I knew why I had chosen to become a teacher and I now realised the importance of not only been the best teacher I could be but how important it was that I had the support of all my parents.
I thanked ‘MY’ grandfather and turned to my chalk board and now with a great deal more confidence I proceeded to draw a ‘family’ tree. I wrote the word *PARENT * TEACHER* at the top followed all the way down by the other ‘family’ members. *COMMUNICATION* RESPECT* SUPPORT* HONESTY* ENCOURAGEMENT * PROUD* UNDERSTANDING* EMPATHY* LOVING* CO-OPERATION* CONSISTENCY* HAPPY * FUN* APPRECIATIVE* SATISFIED*POSITIVE* RESPONSIBLE* FRIENDLY*. Last but not least the word *CHILD*. I then elaborated on my family tree and why it was important to keep all these ‘members’ uppermost in our minds.
My first parent meeting was over and many more would follow. Each was different but my family tree stood the test of time and I would like to think that I always tried to build a positive relationship with the parents of my pupils.
Would it not be wonderful if every parent teacher conversation, meeting and disagreement was conducted with mutual caring, support and respect? Did it not help me? A young twenty year old teacher starting out.
It has to be this way if we are all to work together, find successful solutions for our children, co-operate, understand and appreciate each other. We can all help each other.
Teachers and parents need each other. We both have valuable tips for one another. We are all human and sometimes it is hard to focus on the big picture all the time. But if we are all working towards the same goals how much easier that will be.
We must work together. After all, imagine the greatest reward of all. A happy child!