Every morning you send your child off to be in the care of their teacher. Your little heart and soul spends 6 and a half hours, five days a week, with this other grown-up, but what do you really know of them? You know their name, you might know their favourite football team and maybe you know that they love to read or travel or play netball, but here is a list of 10 things you probably don’t know, but I think you should:
- They genuinely care about your child. Throughout the school year a class begins to feel like a family and your child’s teacher feels a protectiveness and genuine warmth towards your child. They want them to be happy. They want them to do well. They want them to feel good about themselves. Your child is not just another face, another name. Your child is extremely important to their teacher.
- They don’t expect every child to be brilliant at everything. Your child (and you) are not being judged because reading is proving to be a difficult skill to master or fractions are a bit challenging. Your child’s teacher did not go into teaching thinking all children were the same. They know every child is different. They know every child works at a different pace and learns in a different way. There is no expectation of perfection.
- They don’t really care what’s in your child’s lunchbox! Don’t get me wrong, they want your child to be healthy and a lunchbox full of chocolate bars and chips would concern them, but they are not hovering over your child, taking notes on the ratios of vegetables and fruit versus seeds and grains and you don’t receive a black mark against your name if you throw in a chocolate biscuit. As parents we may feel pressure to provide the perfect balance of nutrition in every school lunch, but that pressure is not coming from your child’s teacher; half the time they themselves probably don’t even get the time to eat lunch! – which brings me to my next point:
- They work much longer hours than you can possibly imagine. No, your child’s teacher does not rock up at 9am and skip out again at 3:30pm. There are meetings several afternoons a week, planning to be done, assessments and corrections to finish, professional development sessions, reports to write, individual learning plans to design, classroom displays to create and never ending items needing to be cut, stuck or laminated! Then there are the evenings they are required to be at school: parent/teacher conferences, parent information sessions, fundraisers and the week-long commitments of school camps. They usually work through recess and lunchtime and they take work home every night. Teaching is not a 9-3:30 job!
- They did not go into teaching because of the holidays or the impressive salary! I’m pretty sure we all know teachers do not earn incredible money, but I have often come across people who believe the holidays are the biggest selling point of the teaching career. That is simply not true. Again, don’t get me wrong, the holidays are great and a wonderful chance to catch up on planning and assessments, but they are not the reason your child’s teacher turns up every day. Teaching is much more of a passion than it is a job. No one becomes a teacher unless they feel they can make a difference and they genuinely want to do just that.
- They are far more impressed by good manners than they are by perfect results. They want to see your child developing and learning, of course they do, but whether your child scores 100% on the maths test is not as important to them as whether or not your child said “Thank you” when the test was given to them.
- They lose sleep worrying about whether they are doing enough. Your child’s teacher does not switch off from work when they go home. They worry about little Johnny and what they can do to help him learn subtraction. They stress about how they can help Susie feel more confident when standing up in front of the class and they constantly wonder if there’s anything more than can or should be doing to give your child the best year possible.
- They have bad days too. Sometimes they are not feeling well, sometimes a personal problem crops up, or a work problem arises, but your child’s teacher is human and not all days are sunshine and rainbows.
- They want a good relationship with you. Your child’s teacher wants you to be involved, they may not necessarily want you sitting at the back of the classroom every day, but they want you to be part of your child’s learning. They want you to know what’s going on in the classroom and they want you to work with them on giving your child the best possible chances.
- They appreciate the handwritten card or note more than the end-of-year gift. Classrooms can be a little insular and sometimes, positive feedback is few and far between. You telling them you appreciate them, means the world! After a year at school, your child’s teacher has spent approximately 1,200 hours with your child, and considering your child was (hopefully) not asleep for any of those hours, that’s more than many parents. After 1,200 contact hours and countless more hours planning and working for your child, all they really want is a ‘thank you’. After all, they are a pretty important part of your little person’s world.
If you’re a teacher yourself, what other things do you think parents should know? And parents, what do you wish teachers knew about you?
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