Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A Plea to Parents...

Once in a while, I see a cartoon that really strikes a cord with me. Something in me rises up and shouts "Yes!' and I am convinced and convicted all at once.

If you are a parent of a child between the ages of 0 - 18 (or ever plan to be a parent), then please read this. It is the heartfelt plea of one parent to another:

This cartoon was the stimulus that provoked the aforementioned reaction in me a couple of weeks ago...

I KNOW that as a parent, we have the very best intentions for our children. I know that, mostly because I am a parent. I know I want what's best for my girls - I want them to be happy and healthy, I want them to learn and thrive, to be encouraged and invested in and cherished and stretched. Of course I want that... it comes with the territory of being a parent.

When our children enter school, at the mere age of four, they look so tiny wandering through that big door. I have yet to do it with my own girls, but I've seen it countless times. And I can imagine that as Ava walks through those doors for the first time this September, part of my heart will go with her... Will they care for her like I do? Will they understand her? Will she be cherished and loved? Will she make friends? Will she feel secure? Will they meet her needs?

I dread the day.

I know what it is to be a parent.

But I have a problem.

You see, I also know what it is to be a teacher...

And so I play the position, somehow, of two characters in those cartoons above... And I know that every single one of my heart strings will go to cartoon number two... But I also know that actually the  best thing for my girls will be that picture from 1969...

Here's some things I've learnt....

 That teacher, you know, the one who your child dislikes; that teacher who is "too strict" or "not strict enough", the teacher who "doesn't explain things" or "spends ages explaining the obvious", the teacher who "has lessons in which there isn't enough control" or "gives detentions for nothing"...

That teacher? That teacher spends hours pouring over books pulling out the positives and trying to give achievable feedback; that teacher makes countless phone calls to parents every night to try and deal with questions, queries and challenges; that teacher wants nothing more than the very best for the pupils they are teaching; that teacher wants nothing more than to be able to TEACH rather than just control a rabble of kids, some of whom struggle (that's putting it mildly) to show respect. That teacher dreams dreams of being an inspirational teacher, but is all too often bogged down in admin, emails and paperwork.

That teacher needs our support.

If we are going to raise children who are able to one day hold down a job, respect their elders - yes, simply because they are their elders - show courtesy and consideration, realise that being part of this world is about being part of a team, rather that having your own way all the time... if we want to raise children like this (and I so hope we do) then we need to get behind these teachers.

Not fight them.

I am a teacher. I know the School system. I know children. I know I could be a child's best friend one minute, and worst enemy the next. Just like I can be my own children's best friend one minute and worst enemy the next. Because children are real - they react to their emotions - they display raw responses to feelings of embarrassment, frustration and guilt...

So perhaps its sometimes worth considering that the feedback on the teacher you are receiving from little Johnny isn't always 100% accurate... or 100% neutral...

And let me assure you, if the teacher in question is genuinely having problems controlling the class, then the School will be on it. They will be being closely monitored, their classes will be regularly checked up on and that teacher will probably be feeling pretty rubbish about themselves right now. And if the teacher in question is genuinely not teaching anything, then the School will be on it, because regular assessment is a national requirement and poor results have to be answered for.

So when your kid is bad-mouthing their teacher, please don't jump on the band wagon. And if you agree with them, please don't let them know it... It will just peel away that last slither of respect your child might still have had for them. Please. Teach your child grace... explain that sometimes we don't see the big picture, explain that sometimes we have to respect people in authority over us because they are in authority over us. Showing respect to your teachers is a non-negotiable, just like showing respect to your boss is a non-negotiable. And even if you don't feel it, you still show it...

And when your child has had a shocker of a day - has felt humiliated in front of the class, has been given a detention for something they thought was insignificant, or when the class has been held back for an individual's discrepancy, please pause. Pause before you sent that email, write that letter, make that phone call... and remember that teacher is a person... a person who makes mistakes... a person who spends their time trying to do what is best for not just your child, but 30 of them (if in primary), or perhaps hundreds of them (if in Secondary)...

 So please, lets help our children to see that their learning is a team-effort: the teacher, them...

...and us. 


  1. Very helpful claire. Parents and teachers need to work together, and when they do the child flourishes.

  2. Brilliantly written as always! I have parents evening tonight and this is a great inspiration, if only all parents thought like this!

  3. I hope you don't mind me sharing this!x

  4. Hear hear to all that you have so beautifully said here, Claire! If parents and teachers cannot work as a team (and that doesn't mean we will always agree on things) but it is also about presenting a united front to our children and sharing with them the correct values, as you have mentioned grace and respect. I'd love this to be read by so many others and perhaps more people would acknowledge the pressures of the profession!x

  5. Totally understand where your coming from Claire, but sadly in todays world/society not every teacher thinks or has your approach. A child can simply be labelled or judged and therefore let down but that teachers judgements. The child that needs help most is probably the child that has been labelled. Plus it's hugely depends on the parents! I think if the parents show support and respect for their child's teacher then it works both ways and you end up with a good relationship with them. As you know I have had a run in with head teacher however I spoke with oscars teacher to ensure it wouldn't have any effect on him and he is doing so well and settled. I hear so many people saying 'oh you will always get one teacher one year that you don't like' my response is yes so be it but at end of day we have to work as a team 'child teacher parent team = good happy child in education'
    Let me know your thoughts! X

  6. Great advice. I would like to think that all parents can see that teachers have to have all their pupils best interests at heart. I have great respect and admiration for all of you and though our personal experience has been mixed and has largely depended on whether the teacher fully understood him! We have always worked with the teacher and I hope in their eyes the teacher/parent team has worked!

  7. Thankyou for all your positive comments! Tess, I think you've nailed it! Rachel, I totally agree... It is inevitable that there will be teachers who you don't click with in the same way, or who you feel doesn't totally "get" your child, but I think as you've all said, presenting a united front is absolutely key! Totally agree that "child teacher parent team = good, happy child in education"

  8. Go ahead, Sooz... Hope tonight goes well! :-)

  9. I think part of the reason why parents do this is that shift of blame - they don't want to accept that their child is perhaps a little less than perfect?! As much as I agree with your post, as you go higher up the school system I also come across teachers who are not as enthusiastic and driven as the teacher you describe. I am certain that most are of this nature but sadly, too many aren't. It's sifting out the good from the bad and then trying to apportion your dissatisfaction in the right direction!

  10. There is another problem that is linked with this....parents relying/presuming that nurseries & schools will teach their children the things parents should be teaching them?

  11. Yes Natalie not all education is from nursery/school it starts at the home and not all parents realise that. Learning nurturing loving educating all starts even in the womb. X

  12. Yes! This is so true on every front! We need to teach our kids to respect authority and elders because it's what is right. We need to tea h them that it's okay not to like someone but still ha e to be polite and kind. Parents now just want to blame someone because they are too busy to take the time and teach these lessons. I have so much respect for teachers they do gods work because I surely can t.

  13. tried to post comment on site but wouldn't do it...just wanted to say yes and yes and we are so blessed to have a free education system with so often, such lovely teachers for our kids x


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