9 Things Teachers Want Parents To Know – Jennifer Oaten

Teaching in 2022 is a challenging job. Not only has the role become far more complex and demanding in recent years, now our staff are dealing with COVID-19 and the challenges it presents. Many of our teachers teach up to 125 students. They are expected to understand, connect with and know the strengths and weaknesses of each individual. Can you imagine being on a stage and performing for six hours a day for an audience of teenagers that changes every 50 minutes while wearing a mask? The teaching staff at the College have my utmost respect.

I thought I would share with you some of the things we, our teachers, would love parents to know and help us with.

1. We care

We care deeply about our students, and we want them to succeed—not just academically but in every aspect of their lives. Teachers want the best for all children. Most importantly, we want your daughters to be happy because when they are happy, learning is most successful. We want your child to succeed as much as you do, so we work hard to help our girls be the best they can be. Being their best is different for every child.

2. Trust us

We have an immense responsibility to teach and prepare your daughter for future success in a caring and safe environment. As professionals, we have much prior experience, knowledge and understanding, which we reflect on when making decisions. We are always considered in our decisions and always have the students front and centre. We always ask ‘what is best for our girls’. We provide advice or feedback because we believe it is important in growth, making informed decisions and choosing courses. We make the decisions we do because we care.

3. We love what we teach

We love what we teach. We all have specialty areas and continually seek knowledge and skills to share with students. We attend professional learning, so we continuously improve our practice. Engaging our students with learning is our priority and brings us the most joy. Many hours are spent preparing innovative activities, trialling new programs, marking and providing feedback for growth. We know we have been successful when our students are as passionate about our subject as we are, and they go on to further studies in this area. This would have to be the greatest accolade for any teacher.

4. Please listen

Parents must always be their child’s advocate; however, as parents, it is in our nature when there is negative feedback about our child, we tend to interrupt the conversation and move into ‘defend mode’. However, the best thing you can do is listen to the entire conversation first. Before acting or reacting, listen to all the information and ensure you have understood all the details.

The teacher is not picking on your child. It is much easier for teachers not to have hard conversations with parents, but they do it because they know it will benefit the student. Communication is the key, so make contact if you have a concern but be prepared to really listen and ensure all communication is respectful.

5. Partner with us

Teaching and learning is a partnership. It is a partnership between students, parents and teachers. Please talk with us, trust us and work together with us. When we all work together and not against each other, the difference is magical. Partnerships work best when both parties contribute equally, so your presence and support of your daughter is crucial.

Students must see us working in partnership and know that if they make a poor choice, parents and staff will work together and support each other to ensure learning occurs. Parents are such important role models for their daughters in relation to respecting staff. Our students learn from you and see how you engage with passion while always being respectful.

6. Help us build your child's resilience

It is important that you prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child. Life is not about creating a smooth pathway with no challenges along the way. It is about students learning to navigate the uncomfortable bits with resilience and strength of character and learning to advocate for themselves.

Students need to learn how to problem-solve for themselves. If you clear the path for your child in every situation, you rob them of the experience of making mistakes and learning these essential life skills necessary to help them be amazing teenagers. Please don’t shelter them from making mistakes or disappointments but support and guide them through it.

Don’t defend your child’s behaviour. Making excuses for teenagers means they don’t learn to take responsibility for their behaviour and actions. Young people continue to amaze us with how they can problem-solve, learn and grow. You often find that children may also say things because they don’t want to disappoint you.

7. Engage with us

Parents are the biggest influences on your child’s education. Talk to your child about school and the work they are doing. Check emails from teachers and read the school app and the News Blog. Know what is happening at the College, and become part of the parent community. Even if that is mostly online at the moment. Be present, really present and ask questions and really listen to your child when they are sharing about their learning, their friendships or their concerns. This is the most important way you can support your daughter’s growth. 

8. Help us by setting boundaries

Parents buy the phones for their daughters and pay for the plan. You are in a great position to set the boundaries for usage and enforce them. Phones and social media are two of the biggest challenges for schools. We want to focus our time on learning instead of resolving issues related to poor choices of behaviour on social media that occur out of school hours.

Take devices out of their bedrooms at night and ensure they get adequate sleep. This is one of the best ways to support your daughter’s mental health and her ability to learn. It is much easier to set the boundaries when they first get a device than later.

It is hard to be a parent and not a friend, but our children need and want boundaries. You will experience resistance, and in some cases, they will say things they don’t mean, but stay strong. They will definitely benefit in the long run.

9. Support us

During COVID-19 times, staff are stretched. We ask that you understand that teachers are doing the best they can. Please talk to the teachers, not just when you want to complain but have a positive conversation. We ask you to support all our staff during these difficult times. It is stressful for all of us, staff, students and parents. Let our staff know you appreciate them if you get the chance. We are doing everything we can to keep students and staff safe while continuing your child’s learning. Be kind, be calm and please be forgiving. Let’s not focus on the small things, and please consider is it really that important.

Our young people are a precious resource, and we need to nurture, encourage and support them to be the best they can be. If our teachers and our parents can partner together, our young people have a much greater potential to flourish.

Lastly, most importantly, our teachers want you to know that they love what they do.

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