I have been meeting with a group of parents on Sunday evenings to discuss the book, The Gift of Failure by Jennifer Lahey. One of the chapters we recently discussed offered “guidelines” that everyone agreed would be good to share with others. Please take the time to reflect as you read through the guidelines below and remember, we are all working toward the same goal – developing future servant leaders.
1. Show up at school with an attitude of optimism and trust.
2. Be on time – this means early because kids require at least fifteen minutes to wrap their sleepy brans around the fact that they have arrived at school. Kids who rush into school at the last minute remain frazzled for much of the morning.
3. Read the school’s attendance policy and follow it. As teachers are expected to get through even more material just as testing steals away their class time, it has become even more important for students to be present and accounted for in class.
4. Be friendly and polite.
5. Project an attitude of respect for education. If your attitude toward teachers is one of respect for the educational process, your child will be a lot more likely to respect, enjoy and engage in her education.
6. Model enthusiasm for learning. Your attitudes toward education will be your child’s attitude. Likewise, your enthusiasm for the process of learning for learning’s sake is vital to instilling the same in your child.
7. Make sure your first communication with a teacher is positive. As long as the feedback is genuine, it will create the beginnings of a productive bond. This sort of communication places parents firmly on the same team as teachers, and sets the stage for trust, even when students struggle.
8. Invite teacher feedback. Let teachers know that you view both positive and negative observations as a vital part of your child’s education and the parent-teacher partnership.
9. Wait a day before emailing a teacher over a perceived emergency or crisis. While low grades on school work/tests or disciplinary actions may feel like crises in the moment, if you wait a day, you may realize that they are not. Besides, as you should be moving your child toward a greater responsibility for discussing issues with her teachers, these twenty-four hours give you a perfect interval to develop a game plan with your child.
10. Let teachers know about big events unfolding at home. For many students, school provides a refuge from troubles at home and the more teachers can create that sense of refuge and safety, the better.
11. Express interest in what is being taught. Once you know a little bit about what’s going on at school, you can open the door to conversations about that material and hot it relates to the greater world.
12. Find opportunities to express gratitude. Teachers receive daily complaints, but it’s rare to hear feedback about the successes. Write a thank you note. In order to feel connected, we all need to feel appreciated, and children should learn how to convey appreciation from a young age.
13. Begin with the assumption that you have an interest in common – the student.
14. Protect your child’s right to fail. Give her the time and space she needs to be disappointed in herself. Finally, encourage her perseverance as she pics herself up, dusts herself off, and learns from experience that she is capable of rebounding from those failures.
15. Give your child a voice.
16. Remember that truth often lies between two perceptions.
17. If you are concerned with a teacher’s actions, talk to that teacher.
18. The best time to conduct a parent-teacher meeting is at a scheduled meeting.
19. Read the school’s handbook and disciplinary policy.
20. Support the student-teacher partnership, even when it’s challenging.