As far as life-changing events go, there’s no doubt that having my children changed me in an instant. And not just as a parent, but as a teacher too. Parenthood didn’t cause me to change my teaching philosophy or create new classroom procedures, but it did give me a valuable perspective. Immediately, I understood the implicit hope that the world would be good and just and full of opportunity for my children. I also understood, viscerally, what parents need from teachers: to recognize the infinite potential in each student, even when he can’t see it in himself; to know that fair and equal aren’t the same; and to be fully present with the children we work with.
Yet, as a person who has met and talked with tens of thousands of teachers from across the country, I also know that teachers can’t do this work alone. We come into this profession because we have the same implicit hopes for your children as you do. Why is it, then, that I hear far too many stories of teachers and parents working at odds, rather than as partners? Here are a few things parents should know about teachers and the work they do, in order to truly support your child’s education.
Teachers are Professionals
By the second week of June, I’ve usually fielded several of these comments: “Oh, you’re a teacher? You’re so lucky to have your summers off.” I always cringe inside when I hear this. Actually, we don’t get our summers off. Most teachers I know end up working most of June and most of August. Whether they’re taking classes, attending professional development or working in their classrooms, teachers are busy long after the kids are gone and far before the kids return.
Teachers also work 12 months in the space of 10. We are deliberate craftspeople who spend countless hours designing lessons, continuing our education, collaborating with other teachers, and thinking about--caring about--the children who walk through our doors each day. Everyone’s work is tough and skilled and demanding in its own unique way; the classroom is no different.