Editor's Note: This post was written in response to Ron Clark’s CNN article, “What teachers really want to tell parents.”
For 14 years, my children were blessed to attend highly-rated [La Cañada Unified] public schools. They had some teachers who inspired them and some administrators whose top priority was the students. They had many peers who took school seriously, and they grew up in a community where many parents worked hard to support the local schools with time and money.
Everything wasn’t perfect. There was a teacher who played solitaire on her computer when she should have been teaching, and another who would send the whole class into the hallway when one child misbehaved. Some kids were rude, and some were bullies. There were some parents who would complain at the drop of a hat if their child wasn’t given special treatment.
That’s why I don’t generalize. I won’t say that all the teachers, students, and parents at our schools always made the right choices, but I believe that for the most part they tried really hard to do right by the children. As a result, my kids received a good education, have fine friends, and feel part of a strong, supportive community.
It saddens me to read Ron Clark’s one-sided piece against parents. In my five years as a PTA president and as our local Educational Foundation president, I met many parents who were eager to support teachers.
If they had a chance, I think this is what many parents wish they could tell teachers:
Thank You for All that You Do
You’ve got a tough job, and we know it. It’s tough enough for some of us to parent our own children, so we can only imagine how difficult it would be to teach so many different kids for so many hours a day. We try to let you know how grateful we are at Open House, at holiday lunches and on Founders Day, as well as other times. We mean it.
Please be Fair to My Child
I don’t want you to give my kid a grade she doesn’t deserve. But if you lose a paper she submitted in the first semester, and then find it buried at the bottom of the pile on your desk two weeks into the second semester, and it would have brought her grade up to an A in the first semester, give her the A. If a student practices a different religion than the rest of the class, don’t call that religion a cult. And don’t just call on the same students over and over again, especially if you count class participation as part of the grade.
Please be Organized
Develop a system where you don’t lose schoolwork that students have submitted. Don’t give tests on chapters you haven’t taught yet. Don’t regularly show up 10 minutes late for class.
Many of us are Afraid of You
You hear from the squeaky wheels, but most parents are afraid to question you since we’re afraid you’ll take it out on our child afterwards. We’ve seen instances where once something was questioned, the teacher picked on the child the rest of the year.
Let us Support You
We hate to hear that teachers are digging into their own pockets to buy classroom supplies. Let us know what you need to teach our children well. Let us know when you have classroom or office tasks that we can help with. Many parents would love to be able to help, because it allows us to have a window into our child’s world and it allows you to concentrate on teaching.
Our Children will Remember Everything you Say about Them
If you praise a job well-done, it might be enough to make a child want to major in your subject in college.
Our kids know when you care
They appreciate it when a teacher tries her best to do a good job, and when she truly cares for her students.
If you Hate your Job, Please Quit
If you don’t like your job, your negative attitude will spill over into the classroom and adversely affect our children’s education.
Please don’t Automatically Defend Teachers who Aren’t Doing their Jobs
Most of us work at jobs where we can be fired at any time for doing a poor job. We don’t have much sympathy for a teacher who willfully refuses to improve her classroom performance. When the union automatically defends her, we lose respect for the union.
Sometimes We’re Just as Frustrated with Our Kids as You Are
At least you got to go to school to learn how to be a teacher. We never went to school to learn how to be a parent. Some kids are easy, and some are tough. Sometimes we know exactly what to do to guide our children in the right direction, and sometimes we are at a loss for how to inspire them to work hard and make good choices. Please work with us to discover what works for the individual child.
Let’s work together to ensure that our kids get the excellent education they deserve!
This column was originally posted on Kathy Hernandez' blog, KCH blog.