All Teachers Should Be Parents

Back when I was a teacher, before I had kids, I had little to no patience or sympathy for the parents who would bombard me with questions about how Little Johnny is doing in school and whether or not he is doing his homework and how he might be tired today because he stayed up late with his dad watching the Cubs game.  My (tacit) reaction was that these parents should cut the umbilical cords and let me do my job and let the kids figure out school on their own.  (I still believe this to an extent.)

But, now I find myself on the other side of the school desk.  I have a kid in preschool, a kid whom I think I know better than the back of my hand.  I know how he can be stubborn and loud and say things about farting at inappropriate moments.  I know he needs to be reminded to get himself to the bathroom on time.  I also know that he can be really sweet and sensitive.  But I have no idea how he's behaving at school.  The teacher says he's doing well, and I don't want to push it, but is he doing REALLY well?  Is he doing all the things he's supposed to be doing?  Does he listen?  Does he ask to use the restroom?  I'm tempted to ask all of these questions, everyday, but I don't.  Because I know what it's like to be a teacher who resents those parents.  But now I also understand how those kids, those kids who wiped their boogers on my desks and who wouldn't sit still and who couldn't (and probably still can't) tell the difference between "your" and "you're," were the sun, moon, and stars to their moms and dads.

And the moms and dads just wanted to be kept in the loop.

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  • My mother was a CPS teacher for 35 years (she taught me 3rd grade), and I think if you are a talented teacher being a parent gives you insight but doesn't mean you HAVE to be a parent. She taught for 10 years before I was born and I hear she was still a qualified teacher.

  • I only taught for three years, but when I was teaching, I was in contact with parents all the time. I had a class list in my desk drawer and had a weekly goal of AT LEAST two random, positive e-mails to parents. Usually I sent many more. When there were issues, I called parents, and they knew that I saw how wonderful their child was, too, so they helped me sort out the issues.

    I also sent home a note before school started that gave both the parents and children homework. The parent was to fill out a notecard with the child's strengths, weaknesses, how they learn best, and anything else they wanted me to know about their child. The child did the same for themselves. It gave me a starting point for getting to know the student and let the parents in on the conversation.

    I don't have children. But I do understand the incredible bond between parent and child. I think understanding this is important to being a good teacher. Being a parent yourself is certainly not necessary.

  • In reply to Lauren Kaminsky:

    You were doing all the things that my disorganized brain could not get it together enough to do. I was always in awe of those teachers who'd send home notes and call parents randomly and all of that. And for me, just for me mind you, I never understood the value in all that until I was on the other side of the desk.

  • "All Teachers Should Be Parents"
    Quite possibly the most asinine thing that I have ever heard.

  • In reply to ILELC:

    Actually, I wrote the post and I don't disagree with you. I will fully admit that I wrote the title of this post as bait, and I've been tempted to change it every day since I posted it. But apparently it's serving its purpose, even if it makes me look like a jackass. I think that there are fabulous teachers who are not parents. I'm pretty sure there are shitty teachers who are parents.

    For me, personally, it took becoming a parent to really grasp what it meant to be doing the job I was doing for seven years. And if you read beyond the crappy title of the post, I say as much.

  • In reply to Magistra:

    I like your title, Julie. It does bring readers in. And, to an extent, I think it's true. You don't know how many teachers I've seen over the years change after they actually have kids. Some were great before that, but having kids gives them a whole new level of understanding. I know a high school teacher/swim coach who says he's gotten a whole lot nicer since having kids, especially his daughter. Not so many girls filling the insides of their goggles with tears. Kids have an incredible power to make us parents better people. Of course, those are the people who should have kids. There are always those who should not.

  • Wouldn't this just call for "All Teachers Should Be a Little Compassionate?"

  • I've heard countless friends with children make a comment similar to the title of this blog. I do not agree. I have as well as my children have had good teachers who never became parents as well as bad teachers who were parents. I've also had good teachers who were parents and bad teachers that were never parents. The thing that should come into play is that ALL teachers should have some level of compassion towards the parents of the children you are teaching. Supposedly the reason you've became a teacher is you wanted to positively impact the life of young people, and as a parent I would say we ALL teacher and parent want nothing more than the success of the child.

  • I don't agree with your assertion that all teachers should be parents. Some parents shouldn't be parents! I don't know you, so I won't judge you as harshly as you have judged your fellow teachers in your blanket generalization. Some of my favorite teachers were Miss Leach, Miss Stevens, Mr. Thurman (fresh from college) - and some of the worst excuses for human beings, let alone TEACHERS, were parents. Some people have no business in the teaching profession, and I hope there would be some way to screen and cull such people. There are people that understand children and people who don't. If you have ovulated or fertilized an egg, proves your reproductive system is functioning. It doesn't prove you are an understanding and compassionate mother or father. It doesn't prove you are of better quality than someone who hasn't produced a child.

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