What can parents do to help their child’s teacher? A ‘recovering’ teacher’s term one wishlist

We really value the relationship we have with parents and the role we have to play, working together in the best interests of the children in our care. We also recognise the challenges of parenting in such a busy world. Having said that, there are some great tips and ideas in the following article which may make our work together just a little more productive……

by Gabbie Stroud. ABC News.

For many parents and students there seems to be an exciting “freshness” that comes with the advent of a new school year.

There’s all the new “stuff” that’s been purchased: uniforms and shoes, backpacks and lunchboxes, stationery and tech. Then there’s all the new possibilities: different teacher, different classroom, different classmates.

The summer yawns away as families prepare to return to their routines: parents look forward to reclaiming their time and students look forward to seeing their friends.

For teachers, there’s also a sense of anticipation, although it’s often more likely to be laced with anxiety than optimism.

Teachers are also thinking about new “stuff” as the year commences: new students, changes in the leadership team, a new syllabus, an upgraded app with which to communicate with parents, a newfangled software program for collecting data, a new policy reviewing committee and, in turn, a new meeting they’re required to attend.

This year, after catastrophic bushfires flamed throughout the summer, raining ash, razing communities, taking lives and shrouding skies in smoke, many teachers are returning to face a uniquely new challenge: how best to support and teach a collective of young people who have experienced significant trauma?

And — as an aside — how to manage your own feelings around that experience, while still making yourself accessible to the students in your class?

A better understanding of the challenging and nuanced work teachers do is certainly needed in Australia today. As the new school year begins, there’s an opportunity for parents to reconsider any preconceived ideas they might hold about the role teachers play.

And, rather than asking what the teacher will do for their child, parents should consider a crucial new question: what could I do to help my child’s teacher?

Parents, do the work of a parent at home

There seems to be a common misconception held by parents (and politicians and policy-makers) that schools and teachers can cover everything; almost as though you can drop your child at the school gates and return years later to find the job’s done.

Teachers are expected to address everything from mindfulness to manners, recycling to robotics, subtraction to cyber safety. They’re working through an overcrowded curriculum with overcrowded classes while repeatedly being told they need to do better because high-stakes standardised test results are declining.

The fact is our schools — and teachers — are doing too many things and none of them well.

It’s time we took stock of this situation and considered the opportunity it presents parents to contribute their child’s learning. Parents are the first and lifelong educators of their child and it would take a huge load off teachers if parents stepped into that role more completely.

Rather than expecting the school to teach children basic life skills — personal hygiene, using manners, cooperating, coping with failure, being resourceful, using initiative, engaging in conversation — parents could reclaim that role.

As a kindergarten teacher I’ve taught more children to blow their nose than I care to recall. There was also a three-part series of lessons on jumpers. Phase one: removing your jumper without getting stuck. Two: turning said jumper back in the right way. And three: folding jumper to place into school bag.

Even with older students, teachers are forever coaching on all manner of life skills ranging from managing disappointment to keeping a working environment clean and tidy.

Parents need to do the work of a parent at home so teachers can get on with doing the work of a teacher at school. What a powerful education our children would receive if all their teachers — parents and classroom teachers — were each fulfilling their roles.

Read the full article here

Gabbie Stroud is a freelance writer and novelist. After almost 20 years in education, she describes herself as a ‘recovering teacher’. Her book about her experiences in the education system, Teacher, was published in 2018. Her latest book is Dear Parents.