Teachers are amazing, teachers are underpaid and a lot of teachers do not often get to hear the positive, the encouragement and the thanks from parents. In fact, often, I am sure it feels like they only hear the complaints, the requests, the annoyances and the micromanaging. When I first sent my daughter to kindergarten I do not feel I was able to really express my true gratitude, but also my anxiety and other feelings to the teachers. This letter is written from my perspective as a mother, who hopes that my child’s teachers can see beyond those annoyances into what is really there… the fear and hope that my child will be cared for and valued while in their care.
Welcome back to another school year, or maybe your first year. We, as parents, are glad you are here. We appreciate the time you spend decorating your classroom, putting my child’s name on their desk, organizing the markers, books and setting your desk just right. You are as excited to meet the students, as the kids are to meet you. On the night of meet the teacher, I can see the look on your eyes, you don’t have to say it, your eyes shout it “holy cow these parents are insane.”
I would like to provide you with the point of view of the helicopter, over the top, intense, anxiety ridden parent.
My reality is rushing around in the morning to get hair fixed, teeth brushed, library books packed and breakfast eaten, all in a hurry to beat the first bell at school. Whew we made it! I get back in my car, and then the anxiety hits. I just dropped the most important person in my whole entire life off with essentially a complete stranger. I mean lets be honest, I screen my babysitters as if I work for the FBI, and I don’t even know your dogs name, or heck if you even have a dog. I am entrusting that you will comfort her if she falls, remind her to always use her manners, and see her amazing personality for who she is. I am entrusting that despite having 20 kids in your classroom you will be able to see my child for the wonderful realist she is.
A lot of my friends are teachers, and they complain about the parents, the increasing standardized testing, the meetings, PTA’s, etc, etc. While I cannot imagine how stressful that is, we all have areas of annoyance in our professional lives. When they talk common core, state testing scores, and contract renewals, that is all a foreign language to me. What I want is for my child to be happy. I want her to make friends. I want her to be exposed to all different kinds of learning. The thought has crossed my mind to leave my job and work at the school, just so I can see what she is doing.
It’s hard to have your child talk about their music teacher or art teacher and then you realize you do not even know them. Parent volunteering is not what it was when I was kid. My mom was often around at my school. Now a days, I have to take an all day volunteer class, be fingerprinted, and I am only to volunteer during my allotted time slot. While I appreciate the steps the schools take to keep our kids safe, I think its sad too. Sending your child to school is a milestone that nobody told me about. All I ever heard was “wait until they are in school all day” as if it would only be positive. The thought of homeschooling them crosses my mind daily. (While homeschooling intrigues me, it’s not for our family.)
As a parent, when your child has an awesome teacher who chats with you for just a second at drop-off, sends home a little post-it about the day, or shoots you an email (which totally makes your day as a parent), it validates that the day was not just “another day at the office.” Notes don’t always have to be positive either. A friend of mine said she frequently got post-its about why her son was on “yellow light” that day. At times I feel like teachers are afraid to approach parents. She knew her son had some difficulties, and the post-it notes home helped her talk about the situation with him later in the evening after the fact.
Frequently in preschool my daughter would come home covered in paint, her hair bow lost, and her shoes on the wrong feet. While some parents might find that annoying, I did not. Because each afternoon her preschool teacher would meet me and say “Sorry about her shirt. She is going to be a real artist though, she had so much fun.” Clothes can be washed, hair bows can be replaced, the way you, as her teacher embraced her qualities are invaluable.
So, I encourage you the next time you meet that “helicopter” parent try to place yourself in their shoes, they are not questioning your ability as a teacher, they are looking for validation and reassurance that their child is going to be just fine.
Z & C’s Mom