What Parents Need to Know – 3 Questions

I just got back from attending my son’s open house, and I’m excited about what this year has in store! He attends a brand new middle school in our neighborhood thoughtfully designed with unique learning spaces, state of the art technology, and amazing athletic facilities (this is Texas). It’s wonderful that the students and teachers have the latest and greatest, as I know this is not the case for many schools around the country. However, this is NOT what I’m looking for in a school for my child.

I recently saw this tweet from Tom Loud about what students want to know from their teachers, and I think it is spot on.

Students don’t necessarily ask these questions consciously, but use them as a filter to decide how they will participate in the learning. As a parent, I think these same questions apply for what I want for my kids (and all children) in a classroom.

  1. Can I trust you?  
    Without trust, nothing else works. Sadly, many parents have a skeptical attitude towards teachers and school in general. It is imperative that teachers work to build trust with the parents and students they serve. Kids are in school more waking hours than at home and what happens has a tremendous impact on their development. Can I trust you to be fair, kind, forgiving, honest, a good listener, a quality role model and a skilled instructor to help my child be the best version of himself?
  2. Do you believe my child can succeed?
    If the answer is anything other than yes, there is a big problem. In Hattie’s most recent research analysis, teacher estimates of achievement ranked as the highest-impact influence on student learning and achievement. If teachers believe their students can achieve, they will. Beliefs determine behavior and teachers that believe all their students can succeed will plan and work to make it happen. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.

    Whether-you-think-you-can-or-you-think-you-can_t-you_re-right

  3. Do you care about my child?
    Another make or break question. I want to know the teacher has my child’s best interest at heart. That doesn’t mean making learning too easy or always giving him what he wants. On the contrary, a teacher that cares about my child pushes him into the productive struggle of learning, while providing support and encouragement along the way. The classroom should be a safe place to take risks without ridicule, where differences are valued and appreciated, and everyone’s voice matters. Relationships matter – we know this. Rita Pearson said it best:

    Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.

Open house and the beginning of the year are a great opportunity for teachers to help answer these three questions for parents. Yes, we need to understand the grading policies and how to find homework on your website, but to make the most of everyone’s time use it to build trust, share your beliefs and let them know you care!

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