Every fall I look forward to the start of school with the same anticipation I had as an eight-year-old. Call me weird, but even after being a high school teacher for 25 years, I still find the the smell of chalk dust and freshly sharpened pencils exciting. So when the merchants load their shelves with brightly colored notebooks and boxes of crayons, my mind naturally turns to school and students.
As both an English teacher and parent of three young adults, I know how important the relationship is between teachers and parents. So I’ve compiled a list of fifteen ideas high school teachers really want the parents of their students to know that might help encourage communication and understanding between the classroom and home.
15 Ideas This High School Teacher Wants Parents to Understand
1. I spend quite a bit of time planning lessons and assignments. If you have questions about why I am teaching certain materials in a certain way, please ask.
2. Given my college degrees and experience, I consider myself an expert on education, but you are the expert of your own child. I want to know more about your child, so please share anything you can.
3. Grades aren’t as important as you think they are. So many parts of high school are more important than getting straight A’s, including helping your teenagers discover interests and passions and how to get along with others. Learning to advocate for themselves and how to handle disappointment are also essential skills students can learn in high school.
4. On a related note: it’s ok if your child fails a test or assignment. It is much better to experience this for the first time in high school than in college. I won’t give up on your child, and one, or even a few, poor grades do not define who your child is.
5. Teenagers feel a lot of stress these days, and it’s important to watch for it and recognize it. Try to remember what it’s like to be 16. It isn’t easy. And social media has added a whole new layer of stress we didn’t experience at their age.
6. I love the sense of humor that teenagers have. Spending my days with them can be challenging, but every single day we laugh in my classroom.
7. Please understand that I can’t, and I won’t, play favorites. I do care about your child, but I also care about all of my other students, too. I won’t discuss other students’ behavior or achievement levels with you.
8. I have a life outside of my job, and I need to maintain it in order to stay fresh and energetic for the classroom. Please don’t call or text me in the evening or on weekends. Email is preferable. I will answer your emails when I return to work.
9. It’s just hair. Really. It will grow back. And I’ve seen it all – shaved, buzzed, pink, green, pink and green, Mohawk, Dred locks. It’s normal for students at this age to experiment with their appearance. I promise not to make a moral judgement about your child based on his or her appearance on any given day.
10. I would love to write a recommendation or help with a college application essay, but please have your child ask and have him or her give me plenty of advance notice.
11. It’s normal for your child to behave differently at school and at home. Remember that school is where teenagers practice being young adults and taking on new identities. Please make home a safe place for your child to still be a child once in a while.
12. Please talk to your child about cell phone etiquette. I waste so much class time asking students to put their phones away. And please, don’t text your child during my class. If it’s a true emergency, call the school office.
13. Also, please encourage your child to get enough sleep. A majority of the teenagers I see on any given day are sleep-deprived.
14. Take the time to get informed about important educational issues, share these with your friends and neighbors, and vote accordingly. Every day I have to deal with state and local politics just to maintain good learning conditions for your child and a living wage for myself. Please help me with this.
15. And finally, I feel incredibly honored that you have entrusted me with your child. I will not take that trust for granted. It is such a privilege to walk for a while with these fun and interesting people on their path to adulthood.
When children enter 9th grade, sometimes parents become less involved with school and school activities. But the relationships between parents and high school teachers can continue to be strong and beneficial for students through graduation day. After all, we all desire the same outcome – launching these new young adults successfully and happily into the world.
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Lori Stratton is the mother of a grown and married son, a daughter in college, and a daughter who is a senior in high school. In addition to being a high school English teacher, Lori writes for various local and national publications. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.