How Can I Support My Children’s Teachers?

 

 

 

A black female teacher helping a diverse group of elementary school students
 

 

 

It’s been a difficult year to say the least. As we prepare our children to return to school after the pandemic, many of us are wondering what we can do to make the transition easier.

Teachers have had to manage a million curveballs while worrying about their students’ wellbeing. They had to change their entire approach to teaching and find ways to keep students engaged virtually. This coming year will bring its own challenges.

Supporting our children’s teachers through these challenges helps to support our children through theirs. Below are a few simple ways to help make the best out of the new year ahead and to honor our teachers’ hard work and dedication.

Cultivate empathy.

Teachers are now faced with the challenge of shifting back to in-person education. Be mindful that just like you, teachers want what’s best for your children, and they are doing the best they can.

Communicate.

Staying in touch with teachers doesn’t only help your children; it helps teachers as well. Sharing your children’s interests, strengths, goals, and struggles helps teachers provide them with the best possible education.

Ask questions.

If you have questions about your children’s education, are wondering what teachers have planned, or have any concerns at all, ask! They’re just an email or phone call away and appreciate knowing how to better support parents.

Show you care.

Everyone needs encouragement from time to time, and even the smallest gesture of kindness can help teachers help children. For instance, emails with simple thank yous for progress you notice or shared stories about how what they teach plays out in your children’s lives can provide much-needed encouragement.

 

Our team weighed in on their teaching experiences. Here’s what they have to say.

 

Describe something a teacher has done for you or your child that impacted your life.

Isaak Aronson, PhD
Senior Lecturer

My seventh grade life sciences teacher took a strong interest in my studies. I was a quiet kid. I had immigrated from the Soviet Union in Kindergarten and I was struggling socially. She saw that I had an interest in science and mentored me carefully through the science fair. I took first place at the school. The self confidence that I gained from that made me a lifelong lover of science.”

Veronique G.
Senior Lecturer

Dr. Alan Green, my graduate advisor, took the time to really get to know me as a person, not just a student. He was kind, compassionate and truly caring. I use the same approach with the graduate students that I advise and work with.”

Kimberly Lohr
Senior Instructional Technologist

I had a teacher in high school who helped me navigate balancing my academics while dealing with my parent’s divorce. He showed leniency in my academic work, always asked how I was doing, and listened to me talk through my struggles. He was a teacher who understood the importance of teaching the whole child, not just focusing on content. His acts of kindness and understanding helped me manage some of the challenges I was facing. I took this kindness and made sure that it was a quality I embodied when I became a teacher.”

Giselle Patton
Project Administrator

I received an email from a teacher highlighting an observation of my youngest son while he was in class. There was a student on the spectrum who was struggling both academically and socially, and they were placed in my son’s science group. I learned from the teacher that my son was empathetic towards this student, helped them understand what they needed to do, and encouraged them to participate in the work. There was no teacher guiding this process or checking in on them. When we received the email, we shared it with my son and this has been the way that he continues to treat other students.”

Dave Peloff
Associate Director, Senior Program Director for Emerging Technologies

With 700+ kids in your graduating class, it’s easy to be invisible, to disappear into the crowd. Especially if you’re a quiet kid who (mostly) stays out of trouble. The teachers I still think about are the ones who saw me and cared about me and pushed me. They taught for all the right reasons, you could just tell. And for the sometimes-struggling introvert adolescent in the back corner, that made all the difference.”

 

What was your favorite part of teaching?

Dr. Jennifer Dale
Program Administrator

My favorite part of teaching was the excitement and sometimes surprise when, after holding high expectations for ALL students, they met those expectations when they didn’t think they could.”

Marilyn Muirhead, EdD
TA Specialist

I loved getting to know the students. I particularly liked teaching middle school students because they are like sponges – if you can get their attention – and, they are interested in everything. They kept me on my toes and stimulated me to try new things to engage them.”

Teresa O’Connor
Program Quality Specialist

My favorite part about being a teacher is watching my students grow and learn. I love that “AHA!” moment when my students — from kindergarten to college level — first understand a new concept or see how the information broadens their knowledge and applies directly to their world. I also enjoy that every year is a new beginning to help my students discover their strengths and then develop those strengths into regular habits of mind. Learning and working with my students is extremely rewarding for me.”

Andrea Schanbacher
Program Administrator

I loved being a teacher because I felt like my students were a part of my family. I taught autistic students and I loved watching them learn and make progress. My favorite part of being a teacher was building relationships, getting to know my students, figuring out what they loved, what they disliked, and how to configure the classroom environment to foster independence and autonomy.”

Mark Trexler, EdD
Associate Research Scientist

My favorite part of teaching is staying up to date not only on content, but also the best methods for developing students as lifelong learners. I enjoy how teaching requires that I learn, adapt, and try new methods as ‘best practices’ in education that have evolved over my career. I believe that learning occurs in many places, and often at unexpected times.”

 

What made you feel supported as a teacher?

Dr. Linda Carling
Director

I enjoyed sharing student successes with parents and appreciated parents who checked in with their children about their learning at home. When their children met goals, parents understood what was accomplished and shared in their success.”

Dr. Lynne Mainzer
Deputy Director

As a teacher, I felt most supported when the principal made efforts to drop into classes (not just for formal observations) to see and appreciate the depth of learning that was taking place. Over 15 years of K-12 teaching, which spanned five principals, there was only one principal who consistently visited classes to grasp the climate of learning in the school. This approach went beyond looking at state test scores as the main indicator of success.”

Betsy Mayotte
Project Administrator – International Teaching & Global Leadership

When I started out as a new classroom teacher in the mid-1970s, I did not have the support I needed. That is one of the reasons I’ve been passionate about teacher education over the arc of my professional life.”