You are finally sitting face-to-face with your child’s teacher to talk about their reading and computing skills, or perhaps their school leadership grade. You met her on the first parents’ evening at school, you read the class newsletter, you even exchanged emails on the day he stayed home sick with a stomach ache. Behind this bubbly personality and professional demeanor, you’ll be shocked to know what she really thinks of you:
1) You are in the classroom too much.
It’s called “helicopter mom” syndrome. One teacher recalls a competition she ran to reward students with perfect attendance by letting them be “teachers for the day.” If it was a student’s turn to be the teacher that day, the mother would stay in the classroom all day – she did not take part in class activities – just stared from ten feet away. The teacher and the students felt like ants in an observation glass. In addition, students sometimes show undesirable behavior when their parents are in the room that they would not otherwise show. Some children are noticeably more aggressive or less productive. While most teachers sincerely appreciate volunteers, make sure your presence is purposeful and desirable.
2) Do you remember the last winter break when you called the school when the teachers were walking away to ask them to wait until you come back to school to pick up your child’s cap that was left behind?
Well, the teacher didn’t forget that he was the last teacher to leave school that day. Also the caretaker or the deputy headmistress, who all had to wait for you – without any additional compensation. Sometimes parents forget that teachers have life outside of their classroom. Many are willing to grade papers or write a timetable after work. However, by the end of the working day, most teachers’ attention span for the day has already been used up. This also applies to parents who pick up their children too late from the afternoon events!
3) Your child would be better off with another teacher.
Like students, teachers have unique personalities and special skills. Some teachers get along better with students with disabilities; others are better at recognizing shy personalities in students. Where a strict disciplinarian might just be the trick for a student in need of structure, the same teacher could suffocate or even scare another student. School leaders put different combinations of teachers in the same grade level for a reason, and not always because one teacher is more talented than another. So why wouldn’t your teacher just recommend changing teachers? Your co-workers could likely see the suggestion as their way of getting rid of a difficult student. Worse, she doesn’t want you to assume that she doesn’t want to concern herself with your child because of her shortcomings; often this is viewed as a violation of a student’s state-sanctioned rights (read: lawsuit). In addition, the school may have a policy against class changes by students. In any case, if you think your child might benefit from being in a different teacher class, be careful when approaching the subject. Find out about the school rules and contact the school principal directly. Be sure to highlight the reason your child needs a different type of teacher. This is not the time for personal assault or accusation.
Jane Thursday is a freelance writer, mother of two young children, and an elementary school principal. She has a PhD in Educational Leadership, a Masters Degree in School Administration, and a license to teach in English for 6-12 years. She has studied public education in the United States, South Africa, the Philippines, and England.