As we approach the middle of the school year and the holiday season, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be a first-year teacher working with the BEST parents in the world! Throughout my coursework and interactions with other professionals I have heard many generalized complaints about parents and either their “lack of caring” or their over-eager “meddling.” However, I have been blessed to spend my first year as lead teacher with a group of parents who are open-minded, laid-back, appreciative, and friendly.
I was fortunate enough to enter this new frontier of lead teaching already having established a relationship with the parents in my classroom and the parents from the second-year classroom where I am now placed. This made for a smooth transition as I took on my new position and responsibility (and stress).
The parents were patient and understanding as I figured out what exactly I was doing with and for their children and families. When I was noticeably stressed they encouraged me in subtle ways to let me know that I was doing well. They would take the time to talk to me, ask me how I was doing, and let me know they were happy with me becoming the second-year lead teacher.
Our second-year parents always let us know that they appreciate the program and staff. We get special treats like cookies and cakes and breakfasts—just because. At IEP meetings they tell their home district’s staff how happy they are that their child attends our program. They call our program director just to say “thank you, we’re so happy.” They ask us to “please start a third-year room!” because they don’t want to leave us (we all wish we had the space and funding to do this… anyone want to donate? 🙂 ). Simple things like talking with me and the other staff, whether it is about their child or just life in general, demonstrate that they trust us and are pleased with us.
Our parents’ laid-back demeanor and open-mindedness make it easy to like and trust them as well. If I have a concern about a child, I know that I can take it to the parents and be met with someone who is willing to have an open discussion and brainstorm with me. They are casual in our conversations, when appropriate, making it less intimidating for me as the newbie, and making it possible for me to feel comfortable when things may need to get serious.
Smiles and cheerfulness speak volumes when the parents enter our classroom. They are almost always happy and friendly when they walk in for drop-off or watch from the hallway at pick-up. If they are not in the best of moods, they again trust us enough to seek advice or just vent.
Having positive, trusting relationships with my students’ wonderful parents makes my job so much better! I appreciate them, their involvement in their children’s education, their caring and understanding when it comes to staff, and their praise of our program.
Now I have to go find some adorable and meaningful gifts for the kiddos to make as holiday gifts for their parents — to help me let them know how thankful I am!