Monday, September 19, 2011

Top 10 Things Your Middle School Teachers Wants You to Know

We are now a month into school and I'm already ready for Thanksgiving break. Is that bad??

Actually I have to say I really enjoy my kids this year. Some of them really make me the one who told me he needed to go to the bathroom to do #2. Mind you I teach 6th graders. I'll have to remind of him of that in a couple years!

But while teaching itself can be exhausting, a lot of the time it's the parents who require more attention than the kids do. So I've compiled a list of things that your middle school teacher wants you to know.

1. Make your child responsible/accountable for their work
Middle school is the time to give your child some independence when it comes to their work. I hate to break it to you, but in the grand scheme of life, the grades your child makes in middle school won't make or break them. So it is a good time to give them some wings. Making a low grade (even an F) on a single assignment isn't the end of the world. Use it as a teaching tool and find out why they think they got the low grade. If the low grades become a pattern, then it's time for a conference.

2.Ask your child.
When I get an email from a parent asking about why their child got a certain grade, my first question is always "have you asked your child?" Remember #1 above? Yeah, well THIS is where that comes into play. I promise we don't roll a die to get a grade for your child. THEY should know why they got the grade they got. If you could get into the habit of asking them, then they will begin to see THEIR grades as THEIR responsibility.

3. Partner with us.
While we want your child to be accountable for their work, that doesn't mean you should take a hands off approach. Help us by reinforcing what we're doing in the classroom. For example, in my classes we're studying rocks. Do I expect my parents to be geologists? No way. But walk with your child out in the yard and let them talk to you about a rock they found. Ask them questions about it. The fact that they're talking about it is good for them.

4. You may have to help more than you're comfortable with.
If you have a special needs child or a child that needs more support than the average student, it may require more work on your part. I had a conference with a parent of a student who requires extra support. The parent basically told us that she only wanted to help with what was convenient for her. I really wanted to reach across the table and strangle them. I will help your child be successful in the classroom, but I need your help in doing so at home.

5. Email during the day.
If it's well after the school day, then I will not answer your email. If you need something immediately, email me during the school day or no later than an hour after the school day...because chances are I'm still there. But believe it or not I do have a life and responsibilities I have to get done once the school day is over.

6. Stock up
One of the easiest way to help your child be successful is to make sure they're stocked up with school supplies. I can tell you right now that one glue stick will not last the whole year. One of my favorite lines I hear is "Someone stole my scissors" [or insert any said school supply]. But the problem is that kids think once their stuff gets stolen (or more times than not, LOST) they think they don't have to replace it. I do not have enough supplies to stock up 105 students. Please make sure they plenty of what they need and replenish when it runs out.

7. Encourage us.
Everyone loves an "atta girl" or a pat on the back. Teachers are no exception. An email or a post-it note just to say "hey, my child loves your class or they talked about this fun thing they did in your class" would totally make my day. I actually have a folder in my Outlook that's just for those kind of emails. When I'm having an off day I go straight to that folder.

8. Label your child's stuff.
If you're going to spend $100 on a North Face jacket, then please put a name in it because it WILL get misplaced. If they lose stuff at home, they will certainly lose it at school too. Label jackets, pencil pouches, lunch boxes, binders, jump drives, etc.

9. Schedule smarter.
If possible, please, please, please, try and schedule appointments on teacher workdays or half days (if you have them). I know it's not possible sometimes, but the problem is that when kids miss a day or class in middle school they miss a lot. In elementary, they are used to making up a day's assignments by completing a worksheet. In middle school, though, there is so much they miss in class discussions or activities that just can't be duplicated. For example, tomorrow my kids are doing a simulation activity where they are acting out the rock cycle and all the processes that happen to a rock. There's no way a kid can make that up. They miss the discussion that will take place and I will have to depend on them to read about it to make it up. It just won't be the same.

10. Take notes.
I'm just putting it out there...Christmas break is only about 3 months away. Kids still give gifts to their teachers in middle school (and, yes, we like them!!). But when a kid can have up to 8 different teachers, it can be overwhelming. I've already written a couple posts on ideas you could be thinking about.

Please know that you the parent and I the teacher are on the same team. We both want what's best for your child!

Now I need to go finish grading some lab reports!

Linked to Amanda's Top Ten Tuesday.


Mary Beth said...

I ran across your blog the other day through someone else's Saturday Stumbles. And I just had to tell you that I LOVED this post :) I'm a high school teacher, and even though these are for middle school, they're still things that I wish the parents of my students would do.

Kristen said...

I'm reading for Thanksgiving break, too! :-) Indeed, great list! It drives me crazy when parents expect us to do it all. Yes, we have the parent role for your children for many hours a day, but you are still ultimately the parent. Please act like it!

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