Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Need-to-Knows for the Beginning of School

What Parents and Non-Teachers Need to Know About the Beginning of School

         It’s that time of year again.  A time of excitement and dread.  A time of anticipation and anxiety.  The beginning of a new school year.  Think about it:  For the next nine months, your children will be spending the majority of their waking hours amongst complete strangers.  This means two things: Either—1.  As a society we must be a bunch of crazy people…or 2.  As a society we must be a lot more trusting than we give ourselves credit.  Either way, here are a few insider details about the people your children will be spending a big chunk of their time with over the next 9 months.

1.     Summer Break?  You teachers have it easy.  You work a salaried 8 hours, get 2 weeks off at Christmas, a week at Thanksgiving, another week at spring break and you get 2 months off for summer.  If the rest of the country worked your schedule we’d be going under. 

-First of all, you forgot that we do 12 months worth of work in 10 months time.  Those 8 hours on the clock don’t account for the time we spend after school and on the weekends preparing to give your children our best because they deserve our best. 

-Secondly, those two months off are deceptive.  You can go ahead and subtract a week for summer professional development, which is required and for which we are not compensated.  If we teach summer school, subtract another month.  You can go ahead and subtract another week for pre-school team meetings, curriculum planning and arranging our classrooms for the upcoming year.  Yes, we do get that big break, but a big chunk of it is spent prepping for the upcoming year.

In our classrooms, every teacher is a mad-scientist.
2.     Experimentation:  Any teacher worth her salt is going to be trying new things in his classroom every year.  After all, we aren’t spending all this time after hours in team meetings discussing best practices and going to workshops just so we can keep doing the same old same old every year.  Our classrooms are literal laboratories of the mind.  We push ourselves to the limit to get the most out of your kids.  We are constantly trying new things to get the best results.  It is what helps us grow as professionals and keeps the job interesting.  Don't be frightened if you child tells you about something new.  

3.     We Are Going to Forget Names:  Don’t take it personally.  We will forget your name.  We will forget your kid’s name.  It may take a few weeks.  Bear with us.  It’s not intentional.  Keep in mind that most of us have over 100 new names and faces to orient ourselves to, along with the names of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, pets and favorite musical acts that go along with those new faces.  Be patient.  We will get there.

4.     Have a Problem?  Then Talk To Us!:  This is the quickest way to build rapport with a teacher.  You want a teacher to work hard for your kid, then communicate with us first!  We are the ones in the classroom with your kid day-in and day-out.  We want to know if there is a problem or an issue so we can better serve you.  It’s why we got into the profession in the first place. 

-So often it seems that a parent will go straight to the school board or an administrator about an issue before the teacher has ever heard about it.  Please, talk to us first.  We want to work with you, not against you.  When you go over our heads from the get-go, you not only drive a wall in-between yourself and that particular teacher, but you make the job of the other team members, staff and administrators that much harder.  Please talk to us.  We want to listen.  It’s our job.

We may be a bit frazzled the first month.
5.     The First Month is the Hardest:  Yes, we spend much of our summer break working, but it’s on our own schedule.  Having to be back on a straight schedule with no wiggle room is a bit jarring.  The first month or so we will be getting back our rhythm, training new teachers and building up our stamina for the coming year.  We will be more tired the first month than we will be at the end of the school year.  Your kids will be getting used to the routine as well and building up their own stamina.  Push through with us and the rest of the year will be a smooth ride. 

The time is here.  With these insider tips in your toolbox, the beginning of the year should be a breeze.  Now that you know what to expect, pass these tips along to your friends.  I’m sure they will appreciate the info.   

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