A Teacher Spills Her Secrets: What They Really Think of Parents

ClassroomI have a theory about parent/teacher conferences. They're designed to make parents feel like little kids. Case in point: those teeny weeny chairs that we have to stuff our not so teeny bodies into. And how about the two chairs set out in the hallway for you to feel like you're being punished wait for your turn to talk to the teacher? Oh, and I swear the teacher is totally judging us.

OK, so maybe I'm paranoid. But I have it on good authority I'm also absolutely right. Thanks to an elementary school teacher who has been working in the public school system for 16 years, I now know exactly what teachers are really thinking about Moms and Dads come parent/teacher conference time. She agreed to share with The Stir on one condition.


She had to remain 100 percent anonymous. I can't blame her. She totally broke the teacher code. Getting them to break that divide is like getting your cop buddy to admit they have quotas for handing out tickets. But here it is:

If we don't show, they're totally judging us:

"The parents of the ones you really need to see are the ones who don't come," says our Deep Throat of the education world (let's refer to her as DT from here on out, OK?). She expects to see the parents of her "above average" students, and the parents of many of her students with special needs. But ask her about her biggest frustration, and it's the Mom or Dad (or both) who don't bother to show.

What else are we doing wrong?

Complaining about homework.

"I hear about amounts of homework all the time. They're stating homework shouldn't be done, that homework is infringing on their family time," DT says.

But homework is a necessary part of the educational process. We had it when we were kids, and DT says she follows district guidelines for the amount of homework required of each grade level. If you have a problem with that, she says, you need to talk to the district officials . . . not the teacher who's just following the rules.

And while she's talking homework, DT has a big favor to ask.

"If they're struggling, don't do it with them or for them! Write me a note," she begs. "Call me. Email me." If the homework comes in looking perfect, she's got no indicator that a kid needs help before the big test. And when your kid fails that big test? Well, she told you not to do that homework!

Oh, and about complaining? Do it!

"I swear I have ADHD when it comes to that little red light on my phone or my email when it dings . . . I have to see who it is and I read it," DT says. "It might take me a day to get back to you, but I will answer! I want them to have that communication with me all the time."

And now for the confession that made this whole chat worthwhile. She's a teacher in addition to being a mom, but DT says that doesn't make her any better at this whole parent/teacher thing than anyone else.

"When parents talk to me, you can see the love they have for their child," she says. "That's the biggest thing for me!"

What's the best conversation you've had with your kid's teacher?


Image via frankjuarez/Flickr

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