Just a few weeks ago I was at a parent-teacher meeting at my daughter’s school. I like to think my kid is pretty good, but, like all kids, there’s a few things we have continue to work on so that she’s at her best.
My wife and I happen to think her teacher’s great. She clearly makes an impact, and despite Molly’s shyness about talking about what she’s learning at school at the dinner table, it’s evident that she learns A LOT. From the way Molly talks about her peers, it’s clear the teacher maintains rules. When Molly quotes her at home when she’s trying to “teach” her 3-year old brother, we see that the teacher makes a personal influence on her. And when we’ve come to the school for special events and watched Molly’s eyes widen or a smile form when she sees her teacher, we know that the teacher has done a lot of work to show that she cares.
Like any parent, sometimes I get annoyed by homework or wish that communication on something was different. But in fairness, these are small potatoes when I consider all that we get from Molly’s teacher.
Now back to this particular meeting. The assistant principal had joined us, and we were at a point in the meeting where the teachers were complimenting Molly on her progress. At that point, I had to turn around the conversation and share with them the real reason why she’s succeeding. I told the teacher that she makes time to smile or compliment her everyday, that she has predictable structures and procedures (and that negates anxiety even with high standards for work), that she intentionally exposes and pushes my kid into opportunities that she might otherwise avoid (which is how we grow), and that her own positive attitude toward learning transfers to Molly’s attitude toward learning. I bounced out of that room in a terrific mood.
It felt good for me to say this to her – to compliment her in detail, to her face, in front of her boss. FACT: The job of teaching has never been as hard as it is now – accountability, testing, societal changes, and the level of expectations from the federal, state, local, school, and parent level are more significant than they’ve ever been. If you get the chance, like I did, to express your appreciation to a teacher, take advantage. They may end of feeling even better than you.