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September 5, 2017

Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew

By Dr. Alvin Taylor, Assistant Professor of Instructional/Teacher Leadership

Guest Column, published August 23, 2017 in the Shelby County Reporter

Alvin Taylor photoThe beginning of school is upon us. This is the time of year when students, parents, educators and educational support staff are all making preparations and setting goals. One goal that all of these vested stakeholders have? Student success. The most important skill teachers and parents can further develop is communication. As an assistant professor of education with the University of Montevallo, I would like to serve as a messenger and let parents know four things teachers wish parents knew: 

1. Teachers have been preparing all summer for the arrival of your child.
Most people think the summer is a time for teachers to sit back and relax at the pool. However, according to research conducted by “U.S News & World Report” in 2015, most teachers spend their time planning and preparing for the upcoming year. Many teachers meet weekly or bi-weekly with their colleagues to prepare course material, curriculum and instructional delivery strategies.   

2. Teachers LOVE what they do.
To say teachers don’t teach for the money would be an understatement. According to data by the National Education Association and the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average career teacher in the U.S. makes just slightly more than the average starting salary of a new college graduate. These statistics make it apparent that teaching isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. According to a 2016 article in “Education Week,” the average teacher spends around $530 of their own money a year on classroom supplies. So, why do teachers teach? Because they love what they do and love their students. 

3. Teachers need you to be successful.
Almost everyone has heard the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but no one lives by this quote more than the teacher. Whether it’s making sure that students complete their homework or improve their behavior in the classroom, teachers absolutely cannot do their job without parents’ help. Whenever you see a student that is highly successful in school, you better believe that student’s success came as a result of a great working relationship between the teacher and the parents.  

4. Teachers like having you around.
It is nearly impossible for any kind of relationship to be successful if it includes an absentee partner. I am in no way suggesting parents are not engaged enough. All educators at the elementary level can vouch for the high level of engagement parents bring when their children first begin school. However, according to a three-year study in 2015 from “International Education Studies,” a phenomenon known as the “secondary slump” occurs for many parents once their children hit the middle and high school years. The secondary slump refers to a significant decline in the amount of parental engagement that teachers and schools receive from parents.  

 Sometimes, parents experience burnout after years spent attending every single school event from pre-k through 6th grade or receive pressure from independence-seeking teenagers. On behalf of secondary teachers everywhere, I urge parents not to succumb to this pressure. According to research from high school graduation rates and college entrance exams, secondary students need their parents to be involved just as much, or maybe even more, than when they were in elementary school.  

As we all prepare for another exciting school year, please keep in mind that all teachers and parents are working toward one common goal: improving the well-being of children, our most valuable resource.