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7 Things That Teachers Wish Parents Knew

May 13, 2013


Ask most teachers what their biggest obstacles are in doing their job and I would guess that well over half would say “the parents”… maybe even more than that.

Kind of sad huh?

Notice that I said obstacles, as opposed to problems. It’s not that teachers view parents in general as “problems”, it’s just that most teachers understand that unless you’ve attempted teaching anything from whiny, tattle tale kindergarteners, to hormone crazed, sleep deprived teenagers, then you just don’t understand.

This is not really the fault of the parents…

I KNOW that if I were not or had never been a teacher, I would view things A LOT differently when it came to my child’s education.

What I am about to tell you comes from experience…as a teacher…but also as a parent.

My child’s teachers, on more than one occasion, have had to set me straight.

The purpose of this post is to HELP the parent/teacher relationship, not to HINDER. If our children’s best interest is REALLY at the top of our priorities, then wouldn’t we want to know how to help and best equip the people who share the responsibility of educating them?

So here are a few things that teachers wish parents knew:

1. We’re not in it for the money.

You’re shocked, I know. But really, it’s so obvious that parents forget it sometimes. Most teachers do not make NEAR what they are worth (and some make way more than they are worth, but that‘s for another blog post and another day), but sometimes parents think a teacher’s job is just like any other…and they have better hours to boot, eh?


Biggest myth EVER. Ask my husband and children. A teacher’s day does not end at 3:00. It’s not like a 9-5 job where you clock in and out.

Oh the hours I’ve spent on the phone after 3:00 to parents and students (helping them with assignments)…not to mention grading papers and preparing lessons up until the wee hours of the morning.

Why would a person do that? Love. We, as teachers, truly and honestly LOVE your children. And most of the time, we LOVE our jobs…and it requires the extra hours and we generally do not mind or we wouldn’t be in the educational field.

It is also important to remember that your child’s education is the only “product” that teachers create. It is ALL we have to show for our “work”. The student’s learning experience is very important to us. Our goal is to educate your child to the best of their ability.

2. We do not hate your child…regardless of what they tell you.

I was always surprised when a parent thought I was picking on their child. A parent told me one time, “My son says that you always point him out in class, telling him to stop talking”. I said “Yes, that is true”. She said “Why him?” …and here was my shocking answer…I said to her…. “because he is the one always talking…” (way, way more than the other kids, I might add).

He behaved differently than the other kids, but yet I was expected by his mother to treat him exactly the same. Another big myth (perpetuated by parents) is that all kids should be treated the same…..really? Do you REALLY want your child treated the same as the troublemakers? Or if your kid IS the troublemaker, do you really want him treated like the others and given a pass for his/her ill behavior….???

3. If you won’t believe everything your child tells you about us, we won’t believe everything they tell us about you…

Oh yes. Kids tell us stuff. And not just the 4 year olds. The 17 year olds leak a lot of information also. Many times, they inadvertently inform us of your marital discord, financial status, botox injections, and every bad habit you may acquire. Lucky for you, we teachers know not to believe everything they say. And don’t worry, most information is forgotten by the time the next class begins… most of it….

All we ask is that you return the favor and get the other side of the story before believing every word your child says, even if they’ve never told a lie in their whole life. Sometimes, it’s not so much that they lie, but they will certainly tell the story in a way puts them in the best light possible (you know, kind of like we used to do when we were kids).

4. We do not expect you to be perfect parents. Please do expect us to be perfect either.

Many teachers are parents themselves and certainly are not perfect teachers or parents. Please don’t have unrealistic expectations of us. We really can’t see every time that boy pulls your little girl’s hair and if she doesn’t tell us, how can we know, much less do anything about it?

We are human. We will probably make a mistake in grading, disciplining and yes, teaching. Remember that teachers have to simultaneously get the material straight that they are teaching, present it in the most entertaining/interesting light possible, have eyes in the back of our head, keep track of who just left to go to the restroom in an emergency, and all the while in the back our head, we are aching for little “Sally” in the back whose parents are going through a divorce or “Jonny” whose family just found out that his mother has breast cancer. It’s easy to have a momentary memory lapse, confuse names, misspeak, etc.

5. We don’t understand why you think your child wouldn’t misbehave, backtalk, or lie at school, even when you admit that they do same things at home.

How many times have I had a parent tell me: “well, she smart mouths us at home all the time, but I never dreamed she would do it at school.”? I want to scream DUH!…of course she will…especially if you let her get away with it. And even if you don’t and she’s the most polite person ever, when kids get around their friends, they sometimes become different people. Sometimes we see a totally different kid than you do.

During one of my very first parent conference in my first year of teaching, I watched a parent stand there with mouth agape as I told her how disruptive her older son, Sam (name changed for privacy), was in my class. I also taught her younger child. She said “I think you’re mistaken…you’ve got the wrong kid. Sam has never given me, nor his teachers any trouble. Now Bobby (the younger), he’s my troublemaker and I am constantly having to talk to his teachers.”

I couldn’t explain it to her, but her children acted very differently for me. Her usual trouble-making child was a perfect gentlemen in my class. I just said to her “well, maybe Sam thinks he can get one over on the new teacher.. who knows?”

The next day as I am teaching her younger (trouble-maker) child’s class, I see her peering in the window watching him. He was clueless. But, as usual, he acted just fine. After class I walked outside and asked her to come back after lunch and watch Sam’s class. She did. And per usual, he was very distracting to the class that day completely oblivious to the fact that his mom was watching…until…she burst into the room.

Oh yes, this is every teacher’s dream. Seriously. No, not parents barging into the room constantly…but…a parent catching their child acting like a buffoon in class and then DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. She grabbed him by the arm, fire shooting from her eyes and as the whole class (including me) trembled in fear, she marched him out into the hall. I am not entirely sure what she said to him or if she smacked him real good, but I do know one thing. That kid came back into my class that day and apologized to me, then to the class. He went to his seat and was the model student in my class until the day he graduated.

Moral of the story: It IS possible that your child acts differently (either bad or good) when you aren’t around. Yes, I am talking about you and your little angel.

6. We want you to be our partners, and no, not silent partners. We REALLY want you involved.

Studies have shown and teachers far and wide can tell you from experience that your child has a better chance of being successful if you are involved in their education. However, you shouldn’t be overly involved to the point to where you are packing your 10th grader’s back pack every night, but at LEAST have a clue what is going on.

7. Oh be careful big little mouth what you say.

This is a BIGGIE.

Do not EVER bad mouth your child’s teacher in front of them. EVER.

If/when you do that, you are undermining your child’s education, attitude towards authority and planting a seed of rebellion in your child that WILL come back bite you in the rear one day.

I am not telling you to never disagree with a teacher. I am telling you that if you have a problem with the teacher, TELL THE TEACHER FIRST. Discuss it with your spouse for sure, but that should be the only person you discuss the issue with or in front of BEFORE you talk to the teacher. And again, not in front of the kids.

I had a father of one my students tell me once “Don’t worry, I will always support you. Even if I don’t agree with something you do, I may come talk to YOU, but my children will never know that I disagreed with you.”

If you disagree with the teacher, fine…but, your child should never know. They need to see you two on a united front. Now, if it’s something the teacher believes/does that your kiddo KNOWS you don’t agree with, then you have an invaluable teaching moment there yourself. Explain to them that they aren’t going to agree with everyone on everything and you have to agree to disagree (unless, it’s a MAJOR issue, and in my experience, it’s rarely MAJOR).

From a teacher’s stand point, I can tell you that the kids with the most behavior problems in school were the ones where the parents constantly bad mouthed the teachers, never got the full story, and took what their child said at face value. I wanted to just shake the parents and say, “Wake up! You aren’t hurting ME, you’re hurting your own child, their education, and most importantly, their relationship with God, because you aren’t teaching them to respect authority.

And trust me, when you talk about the teacher in front of your child, they will almost always spill the beans to the teacher and sometimes it will be in a fit of rage when they aren’t getting their way. You ever been embarassed? I mean REALLY embarassed?? Well, just let your child show off some ill behavior and then announce to the school/world that they are just repeating you and you will know true embarassment my friends. If it doesn’t embarass you, then, well, we’ve finally nailed the problem then haven’t? It isn’t your child, it’s YOU.

Trust me when I say I speak as a teacher AND a parent. One when my oldest child was in Kindergarten, he was trying to verbally relay a message to me from his teacher. However, he was telling me while I was on the phone with the local post office over a very important missing piece of mail. I was not even listening to my child, because I was so wrapped up in trying to deal the incompetent postal worker on the phone. I was in tears and my child was still talking. Still ignoring him, when I hung up the phone, I yelled out loud “uggghhh!! She is such an idiot!!!” (Referring to the postal worker)…

Of course, my child stopped talking at that point and I figured it was because he saw my mood and would just tell me later. NOPE. The next day at school he told his teacher that he told his mommy what she (the teacher) had said and that his mommy got very angry and said that she (the teacher) was idiot. That was probably in my top 10 or most embarassing moments ever. Thankfully, my kid told me later that he told the teacher what I said (aaaaccccckkkk) and I was able to immediately call and explain/apologize…and even though it wasn’t about her, she didn’t know that and I apologized to her in front of my son and explained to him that he misunderstood me. But, what a lasting impression that would have left if he had continued to think his mom said his teacher was an idiot.

As I was writing this whole post, I was thinking “There is no way everything will fit into one blog post”. So these tips by no mean cover every thing. But, I hope at least it’s a start. Your child’s teacher is not your enemy. She/He isn’t your child’s enemy. The thought of that is utterly ridiculous if you thing about it. What person is going to go to college for 4 years, make pennies, work long hours, put up with so much crap, just because they hate kids and parents? Yet, so many parents think the teacher is only there to torture their child. I hope this will encourage you to take a step back and try to see things from a teacher’s point of view. If it only helps one child because their parent and teacher developed a better relationship, then it was worth it.

****NOTE**** My super sweet editor-n-chief-n-cousin edited this blog post for me last night. She fixed all the grammatical errors and typos. HOWEVER, I just inadvertantly deleted the whole thing after it was published. Thankfully, I had a saved a draft, but it’s from the pre-editing stage. I have republished it with rough draft errors and all. Please forgive the errors. I would attempt to correct them, but that’s how I ended up deleting the last post.

What Teachers Wish Parents Knew

  1. I enjoyed this-am 70 yr. old mamaw with a 16 yr. old grandson still in school. One thing he has earned is he teaches and I are always right LOL But seriously, he was wk. preemie, with twin who died at 1wks.,. I have had him since the day, four mos. later., he came home from hospital. He has some problems still; i.e. glasses, ADHD, over-weight (but getting better) and has been bullied at school for years which teachers always handled) but he is witty and has a sweet nature. I am always amazed his teachers like him so much even though he has struggled so hard. I realize I learned the value of all teachers much more with he and his older brother. My discipline is same as with my children but now I gave these boys more freedom in relationships with adults and did not manage their daily lives, so much as just kept them on track. Only minor events of discipline ever needed at school. I am constantly told by present and past teachers what a joy they were to teach. This makes all the years worth it and the partnerships with these wonderful teachers was the result. You see I was raised believing teachers fell right below my parents and right above our minister in rank of respect and this I still believe and have passed on. What amaze me is the number of my children’s friends who now teach my grandchildren. It is wonderful and looking back I am not surprised at their career choices because of the same instruction the received. Thank you. I am passing this on to others I love.

    • Am sorry for spelling–thought I proofed it. LOL

      • Completely understand. My whole post was a mess

        *see note at bottom of post

        Thank you for your feedback also!

    • Wow, what a thoughtful comment.

      Even in relaying your story, you imparted much wisdom.

      Thank you. What you said was so very encouraging. God bless you for the (obviously) great job you are doing raising your grandchild.

      If only their were more parents (and grandparents) out there like you!

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