Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What your child's teacher wants to know

When I was in fourth grade, our house caught on fire. Happily, no one was hurt, but a great number of our possessions either had fire or smoke damage. My brother and I took off a few days from school as a result of our parents trying to figure out how to restore normality to our family.

When I returned to school, my teacher and classmates already knew about the fire - we lived in a small town so everyone already knew - but my teacher really wanted me to talk about it. She asked me how I was doing at least once every 20 minutes. And I was confused, because I was fine. And that's what I kept saying.

Looking back, she was just being a good teacher: She wanted to make sure that I was emotionally stable enough to be in class so that she could let my Mom know otherwise.

And most teachers are consistently good about checking in on their students; just not always on the things that parents want to hear.

According to research by VitalSmarts, teachers and parents are great at communicating - just not in the areas each wants to know about. Parents, for example, say that teachers are not communicating with them on issues like drug abuse or depression. Teachers say that they want to hear more about major life changes within the home, including illnesses and deaths.

I am at an advantage now, as I have a five-year-old. And five-year-olds are not known for keeping secrets. My elementary school teacher friends are quick to remind me that their students tell them everything - from the way their mothers gossip about other family members to the ways their fathers hide out in the garage when its time to do chores. But as my son gets older and starts to realize that life isn't an open book, I'll need to make sure that his teacher still knows what's going on at home.

How do the teachers at your school like to communicate with you? Tell me how you keep in touch in the comments.

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