The school supplies have been bought. The new clothes, shoes and backpacks are waiting patiently in the closet. Excitement is in the air. It’s school time again!

I’ve been a teacher for fourteen years and each September brings a new set of expectations. All teachers are grateful for new markers, pencils and tissue boxes sent in by well-meaning parents but there are other ways parents can show their support. These are the things every teacher wish every parent knew…

1. We have a common goal.

Teachers and parents both want the best for their child. No one becomes a teacher for the salary or prestige. They become teachers because they passionately care about children. It is our privilege that parents share their children with us and we only want them to succeed.

2. Teachers crave parent involvement.

We want parents to be involved in every aspect of their child’s education. Studies show that students whose parents are involved in their schooling are better students. We want all our students to succeed and parental involvement is a big part of that. We don’t expect every parent to be a classroom mom or president of the PTA. Being involved can be as simple as talking with your child about their school day or helping with homework. It shows your children that you value education and honestly, it makes my job a tiny bit easier.

3. Teachers want open communication.

We want to talk to you! Too often communication begins as a result of inappropriate behavior. This is the last way we want to open the lines of communication. Stop in, say hello, and introduce yourself. I try to build positive relationships with my students’ parents by seeking them out before something happens. Open communication makes it easier to achieve our common goal.

4. Let’s support each other.

Too many parent-teacher relationships have become adversarial. Teachers and parents feel like it’s an “us vs. them” competition. This doesn’t work for anyone, especially the children. Remember our common goal.  Supporting each other and working together is essential for achieving it.

5. We are just as nervous about the new year as you are!

The new school year is exciting and bit scary for everyone, teachers included. We have high hopes, aspirations and a lot of butterflies during the first few days of school. We are especially anxious about meeting you, the parents. First impressions are so important and we desperately want to make a good one.

Parents give us teachers a tremendous gift each fall when they allow us to be a small part of their child’s life. Following these five pointers can help foster a positive relationship where everyone wins.

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  1. I wish this were true of my son’s teachers. After years of no communication, obtuse behavior, and a flat-out refusal to work with his healthcare professionals, we were forced into homeschooling.

    Good luck to all the families entering public school. It seems like a crapshoot to me- some do really excellently well and have a great experience, some have a good-not-great experience that’s still perfectly acceptable- after all, our kids do have to learn from challenges and failures as well as successes. We just happened to draw the short straw… but I can’t help wishing that we had more options when we were going through our bad times- like changing districts.

    The US really needs to offer parents more options in their children’s education.