- Teaching can be an extremely difficult job for reasons beyond educating the young minds of the future.
- While parents are invested in their children receiving the best possible education, they can sometimes be unfairly pushy towards teachers.
- We asked several teachers from around the US to name the things parents should never do.
- For more stories go to www.businessinsider.co.za.
Teaching is one of the most challenging careers out there. Not only are you responsible for educating the next generation of young minds, you also have plenty of unexpected parent-teacher mediation to contend with.
While parents should be a teacher's greatest ally, that's not always the case. Teachers may occasionally need backup from parents, but there are times when a parent actually ends up making things even more complicated for both teacher and student.
We asked over a dozen teachers across the country to name one thing that no parent of a student should ever do, and this is how they responded. To protect their confidentiality, some teachers were granted permission to use only their first names.
Here's what the teachers had to say.
Don't voice frustrations about the school or teachers in front of the children.
While it's understandable that parents and teachers won't always see eye to eye, it's not necessarily something that needs to be discussed openly in front of a child.
"The children need to know that teachers, schools, and parents are on the same team and holding them accountable and to a high standard," said Joe Glass, a public middle school teacher in Champaign, Illinois.
Alejandra Castillo, a social science teacher in Florida, said she shares a similar sentiment.
"Disputing with the teacher in front of the student makes everyone uncomfortable," Castillo said.
A more positive and constructive way to go about addressing your concerns as parents is to request meetings with your child's teacher or principal, to join the local parent-teacher association - or even go to the school board directly.
It's important to be respectful when communicating frustrations to teachers — email them questions rather than direct accusations.
When you finally do decide to voice any concerns to your child's teacher, it's best not to go in swinging. That is, it's best to ask for more information and hear your teacher's thoughts on a matter rather than becoming defensive.
"By seeking to understand the full story, (parents) will build a relationship with the teacher that is more collaborative and leads to better conversation about an issue," Alex, a public high school teacher in Cincinnati, said.
Questioning a child's grade to a teacher can come off as disrespectful to their professional experience.
Jo Acholonu, a teacher working in a private international school in Southeast Asia, explained that parents should feel free to inquire about their child's grade, but not accuse the teacher of being unfair. Acholonu said that these challenges should especially not occur after a thorough explanation has already been given.
"It completely undermines the work I do and sets a difficult precedent in the classroom: that if parents complain enough, the student will get what they want," Acholonu said.
Another private high school teacher based in Washington, DC, shared a similar sentiment.
"I think my biggest pet peeve is when parents tell their children that they will 'fix it' or 'get the teacher to change it.' In my class, grades are earned based on a set of given criteria. They are not subject to parental approval or adjustment," the teacher said.
Kids lie — not everything they say about the classroom is true, especially when it seems improbable.
Amanda, a high school teacher in North Carolina, warned against always taking a child's word over that of a teacher.
"Don't believe everything your child tells you, especially if it sounds ridiculous," Amanda said.
A fourth grade teacher in Colorado named Sarah said the same.
"I wish parents would come to me with questions or concerns before always taking their kids' words," Sarah said. "Yes, most kids tell the truth most of the time. But there are some times where I wish parents come to me first before believing the worst. I guess in all, I wish parents would assume the best and realise that we have the best of intentions in mind."
Back-to-school night is not the place to discuss serious matters about a child that will take a significant amount of time.
"Instead of using it as a time to spend 30 minutes to talk on how your kid is doing after just a few weeks, use it as a time to get to know me," a second grade public school teacher from New Jersey said.
The teacher suggested that parents keep interactions at these events short and to the point. Some teachers have 30 or more students in their classrooms, meaning they also have to meet 30 or more parents in a single evening.
"For a more in-depth conversation, schedule a parent-teacher meeting," they said.
Stressing one subject's importance over another can send the wrong message to your child.
"Let your kids figure out their path in life, and never, ever, ever put down a class or subject that they are passionate about," Julia Hong, a choir teacher based in California, said.
The arts have been getting the ax more and more over the past few decades. In 2016, the New York Times reported on the rising push toward funding STEM and cutting arts funding - much to the horror of academia and arts lovers.
"Never … promote the idea that STEM classes are more important than the arts," Hong said.
Try to discuss important matters with the teacher before going to the school's principal for action.
Emma Kate Tsai Nelson, a ninth and tenth grade teacher, told Business Insider that parents have occasionally gone straight to the principal without giving her a chance to set the record straight.
"The … teacher will have to rectify the situation anyway, so why not do it directly before escalating?" Nelson said.
Other teachers also expressed similar frustrations with parents going over their heads before attempting any conflict resolution with them. More often than not, these are issues that would need to be resolved in the classroom and not by the administration, so it tends to be wasteful of everyone's time, they said.
Don't be complacent in your child's bad behaviour during school.
"If they plagiarise and cheat, they need and deserve consequences. If they haven't done their work, don't make excuses for them. School should be their No. 1 priority," LJ, an online public high school teacher, told Business Insider.
She added that parents shouldn't enable their children to avoid certain content just because they don't like it, but rather that they should still read it to become critical thinkers.
Make sure to not message your child while class is in session.
An anonymous middle and high school teacher in Wisconsin told Business Insider that parents should know that kids don't exactly wait until they have actual free time to text back. This, of course, becomes disruptive in the classroom - for the student, classmates, and teachers.
"Don't text with (your) child or call during class," the teacher said.
In 2010, Fast Company even reported that more than half the time that kids are being texted while at school, the culprits are actually the parents. While a teacher might understand in an extreme or rare case - such as an extreme illness of a family member or some similar emergency - most teachers would likely prefer parents not disrupt their children in this manner or disrespect the learning environment they've created for students.
Make sure to instill a sense of humility in your children.
"Children are the center of the universe and are special and unique and beloved by their parents, but once they leave home, they are just another human being like anyone else," James, a middle school teacher in Georgia, said.
He said that the sense of disappointment when they go out into the real world can be devastating to kids, and can even lead to emotional problems. James also warned that raising your children to be entitled may backfire and cause them to develop resentment toward their own parents.
"The biggest favor a parent can give their child is making it clear that they are absolutely loved at home and absolutely supported at school," he said. "But they need to understand that they are in schools that are filled with students and staff that are just as important and are just as in need of love and support as they are."
Ultimately, your child's teacher and you are on the same team.
Martha Sanchez, a third grade teacher in Pembroke Pines, Florida, said parents should understand that teachers are on their side.
"Never make the teacher the enemy," Sanchez said. "We have the child's best interest as well, and want the best for them."
Another teacher from Wisconsin also wanted to remind parents that if their child misbehaved, parents shouldn't assume that the teacher was out to get them.
"If I'm writing home about your kid's behavior, it's because I feel strongly enough about it to stay late at school and eat into my personal time that evening to reach out to you," the teacher said. "I want a resolution as much as you do. I'm writing to keep you informed so you're not suddenly surprised by an ongoing issue potentially escalating at some point during the year, to get ideas of how to help support the student in changing his or her behaviour."
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