Dear Families (Parents & Guardians),
I am a principal of an elementary school. Every single day I see teachers and teacher assistants who give their very best to kids…lots of them. They are selfless. They offer extra snacks when a child is hungry. They buy clothes if a child wears the same things to school every day. They spend their evenings and weekends planning lessons, shopping for materials (many times with their own money), and organizing their classrooms. They continue their learning in the summer, and make changes to improve their classroom and instruction. They email, text, and call families on their own time in order to express concerns or celebrate successes. Teachers are a whole different category of superheroes, because they make all professions possible, and serve in multiple roles every day. Caregiver, nurse, counselor, authority figure, mentor, friend, and…sometimes…parent. At any given moment, a teacher may be consoling a child whose parents are divorcing, putting a Band-Aid on a skinned up knee, monitoring students who are working at their seats, answering the secretary on the intercom, helping two kids solve a friendship conflict, and tracking the time because there is so much more to accomplish in the day.
Teachers want you to remember that their intentions are always good. They will make mistakes. They will misunderstand something your child says or does. They might even miss something that happened to your child because they are supervising so many, multitasking, and moving in and out of their multiple roles constantly. When something happens that concerns you, please don’t assume that the teacher is being incompetent, mean, unfair, or anything else other than human. Please don’t write letters out of anger and send them to school with your child. Please don’t call the principal or the superintendent to complain, or demand your child be removed from that classroom. Most of all, I implore you to please refrain from posting your assumptions about a teacher and a class on social media. This is so hurtful, and once damaging words are shared publicly…they are out there for good.
If you’re upset, worried, confused, or being influenced by an outside negative force, the absolute best action you can take is to contact the teacher and ask to meet. Talk through things as partners in your child’s education. Work together to come to solutions that will empower all involved. Teachers who have the support of families can move mountains for children. Please, give them that strength by supporting and communicating with them. Refrain from jumping to conclusions based on assumptions and second hand information. Control your emotions, just as you want your child to control their emotions.
Parents, families, and guardians…we need you. You’re a piece of the story to success for your child. We want to work with you, love your child with you, celebrate with you, and problem solve with you. You’re our students’ first teachers. You know them better than us, but we spend as much or more time with them. You don’t have to raise them on your own. We will help you, and we want to. It does take a village to raise children up the way they should go.
Lean on us, and we will lean on you.
(A principal who really loves teachers, and who will always be a teacher herself)