Help Wanted: Small Steps to Gain Teacher Support

In every classroom there is diversity in student abilities, teaching styles, and levels of interest. So how does any one teacher teach all types of students and meet all parents’ expectations? Not a clue! I did however learn a few helpful things while teaching Pre-K (the new K) that seem to hold true no matter what the grade level.

First, we all agree that we want our students to listen and learn, right? Well, parents and teachers need to do likewise; they need to listen to each other’s needs and goals (for the children) and find things that they can do each day to support them. Focus on what positive steps can be implemented each day.

What can teachers do?

Take small, constructive steps each day in the classroom. Build on what you know works.

• Set things up that are attention-getters. Create an inviting Creative Writing Center or a Game Area for skills practice. If students are excited to do one of the activities, they will look forward to doing more and will encourage others to participate.

• Ask parents to keep you posted on activities or topics their children enjoyed doing in class and try to incorporate them into the regular curriculum.

• Find out which things you do are most interesting to students. You might be surprised. It might be sharing stories about your own children or pets, or perhaps it was the goofy way you acted out a story. Did you solve a math addition problem using the grapes in your lunch? Find the elements of your teaching style that most engage students and build upon them.

• Determine the class leaders. Who seems to like order, remember rules, have a wide circle of friends, etc.? Let them be your first group leaders. Encourage and support them in guiding the rest of the class, rather than trying to do it all by yourself. (I distinctly remember a few students who could get the room in order in no time, hands on hips and all, and they were only 4 1/2!).

• Be patient with parents. When a parent points out a problem area, acknowledge their concern, briefly explain what is being done, and ask what he or she thinks might alleviate the problem, and if they can possibly help. You’d be surprised at how many parents are willing to help if asked to do a specific task.

• Finally, treat meetings (especially the problem ones) with parents like you would any business meeting in which you are seeking a positive result. Be calm, give input, and then offer possible, realistic solutions.

Hopefully, enough mini solutions will add up to build a stronger, supportive bond between parents and teachers and a safe, educationally sound environ for students at any grade level. Usually, getting a few enthused kids on board in the classroom is the same as getting a few parents on board. Every little bit helps, and every teacher feels better and more motivated when the positive feedback straggles in!

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