Today is a big day around here. From 10-12 this morning, I have to attend an informational meeting for parents of kindergarteners.
Yes, TWO HOURS. In the morning. Without any kids. I could go on a rant about how ridiculous I think that is since there are so many working parents or parents who can’t get a babysitter, but that’s not the point of my post.
In the afternoon, I get to go back to the school with my oldest, so that he can meet his teacher and get his supplies arranged in his desk.
Even though I vowed not to ever be that parent back when I was a teacher pre-kids, I still find myself thinking of questions and concerns that I have.
So, I thought this would be a good time to remind myself of the do’s and don’ts/things I wished the parents of my students had done on meet-the-teacher day from the teacher’s point of view. Before I go embarrass myself and become that parent.
*Don’t ask the teacher how old she is. This might just be a sensitive issue for me because I had my first meet-the-teacher night as a teacher about a week after I turned 22 and looked 15. But, really, it’s not any of your business.
*You can ask how long the teacher has been teaching that grade/subject. But, keep in mind that years of experience does not necessarily have anything to do with how effective that teacher will be. Experience can be a great thing, but can sometimes mean a complacent, mediocre teacher. A newer teacher might be clueless or could have more enthusiasm and be open to trying new things.
*Do not tell the teacher that your child is brilliant or smarter than all the other kids. Eyes will be rolling. Let the teacher actually spend time with your child first. Every parent thinks their child is special. Teachers get that. And sometimes, the child in question is actually gifted- and if they have been identified as such, it’s okay to make sure the teacher is aware of an existing IEP.
*While you can share concerns you might have about your child, sometimes a wait-and-see approach is better. A behavior you see at home or that showed up a previous year might not be an issue in the classroom. If it’s something that could harm your child or others, bring that up, but you don’t have to confess all your child’s quirks at that first meeting.
*Do let the teacher know if your child has an IEP. This seems to be more of a concern if you are changing schools than just moving up a grade in the same school because sometimes files are late being sent or the IEP can get separated from the rest of the file.
*Keep in mind that this is the time for the teacher to meet all the parents and students who show up- not a time for an in-depth conference with you.
*And btw, those other parents can hear what you are saying, so don’t put all your business out there for everyone to hear. If you have something private to discuss, schedule a time when it can actually be privately discussed.
*Do not bring up gossip you have heard about the teacher. “So-and-so’s mom said that you….blah, blah, blah.” Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt at first, okay? Or, let’s say that so-and-so’s mom told you that the teacher only lets the students have one bathroom break a day. Instead of putting it like that, if you really are concerned, just ask how many bathroom breaks the students are allowed a day. Don’t make it seem like you have been gossiping about the teacher with other parents.
*Unless you are seeing the classroom the night before the first day of school, cut the teacher some slack for the appearance of her classroom. She might not have it all together yet. She’s probably been in staff meetings and workshops. I wanted to put an “under construction” sign on my door one year…though I settled for allowing my assistant to shove all my boxes into the closet and pray no one was nosey enough to open the closet.
*Do not open the teacher’s closet or go behind her desk or open her desk drawers. Yes, some parents do these things.
*Don’t be annoyed at the school supply list. I know that there are often things parents don’t understand about it, but there’s a good reason for the things on the list. And sadly, things like kleenx are often not supplied by the school. Teachers can’t be expected to pay for every little thing for their classrooms- and they don’t have any answers for where your tax dollars are going, either. They probably want to know, too.
*Your child’s teacher will probably have a list of “wants” somewhere in the classroom- if you can, please bring in some of these items. Prizes for the goody box, pencils, and dry erase markers were items that I couldn’t have enough of.
*If you are able to volunteer at all, let the teacher know. Whether it’s for parties, special events, field trips, tutoring, on a regular basis or occasionally, let the teacher know. One year, I had a parent who came in every Tuesday afternoon for two hours and would do whatever I needed her to do- from making copies to putting up a new bulletin board to working one-on-one with students. That was awesome and I plan on doing that in my son’s kindergarten class.
*If you can’t go into the classroom to help, ask the teacher if there is anything that can be sent home for you to do. Particularly in the younger grades, there is a lot of tracing and cutting that needs to be done. You could do that once a week or once a month as you watch tv in the evening.
*Keep in mind that the teacher will be sharing more info with you as the school year starts. You don’t have to leave that first meeting with her knowing every single classroom procedure and every single thing that she plans to teach your children that year.
*If, for some reason, you do not like the teacher, wait until you are away from her classroom and away from your child to vent about it. I’ll never forget the mother who stopped right outside my classroom door with her son and said, “Shit, another young, blond, pregnant teacher for my son. Two years in a row, we got screwed.” Not the best impression on the teacher and if you don’t show respect for the teacher in front of your child, you’re setting a bad example for your child.
*If all else fails, presents always work. (Um, just kidding……sort of)
Oh, and yes, I know I used feminine pronouns throughout this post and there are male teachers- just generalizing here and avoiding the awkward use of he/she and his/her. 😉
We’ll see if I can remember back to my teaching days today, though, when I’m the other side of the desk and it’s my own child that this concerns.
If you want my advice for how to deal with your child’s teacher later in the school year, you can check that out HERE.