A month ago, I had the pleasure to speak in front of and conduct a training on better communication skills with parents and students with the teachers teaching in overseas Filipino schools in Doha, Qatar. At the beginning of the workshop, the teachers recalled experiences with parents who were very challenging to handle. These teachers, like the rest of the teachers around the world, have encountered the fury of the tiger mom, the non-stop calls of the helicopter father, the unfair demand of the snowflake mother, and well, the absence of the ghost dad. While most of the encounters ended in the most diplomatic and desirable ways, a few teachers noted how an experience with a difficult parent could be “traumatic” and “nerve-wracking.”
If given the chance to send parents short, sweet, and thoughtful messages, what would you tell them? I conducted a little survey with teachers in my network and here are the top four messages they would want to tell the parents.
1. “We are the teachers. Our job is to teach your children.”
This simply re-establishes that teachers are the teachers. Some parents forget or simply takes this for granted as they make unreasonable demands to teachers for their children. Sometimes, there are parents who act like they know or think better than the teacher. This is may be alright if done with the proper boundaries and communicated properly. However, some parents would go further and really make the teacher or the school, in general, feel that what they are doing in the classrooms are inadequate. In a few words, teachers are just asking for trust that, as teachers, we know what we are doing in their classrooms.
2. “Praise your children in times of success.”
Take time to celebrate the successes of your children. We mean every accomplishment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s little or momentous. It’s still an accomplishment which your children have really worked hard for. Praise them. Reward them, if you like. However, in between the praises and celebrations, teach your children about the importance of humility.
3. “Teach your children that it is ok to fail.”
Failure is part of learning. It is unfortunate though that some parents would “not allow” their children to fail or to commit mistakes while learning. This kind of mindset in parents drives an unhealthy message to children. In school, students cry for one or two mistakes in test, feel bad about themselves, and develop anxiety or fear towards their parents. Yet, life clearly tells us that in order to become better or to learn more, we need to commit mistakes. We need to experience failure because it is in failing what we get to know more of ourselves and develop life skills that would help us cope up with bigger failures or challenges that would come our way in the future, in the real world outside the four walls of the classroom.
4. “My classroom is open for visits.”
Teachers aim to develop and foster a collaborative and supportive relationship with the parents of their students. In order to do this, we invite our parents to visit us in the school, send us a message, or call us. We can have a short chat on how we can make the school better for you children. However, please do remember to make fair and thoughtful requests. We are here to work with you.
So, those are the top four messages which came out during the workshop. I believe that the messages resonates with the sentiments of other teachers around the world. For you, what message would you like to tell your parents?