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The oblivious truth

What Your Child’s Teacher Won’t Tell You

By Reader’s Digest Magazine | Parenting – Mon, Sep 28, 2009 5:24 PM EDT
Adapted from interviews with teachers by Neena Samuel

1. My first year of teaching, a fifth-grader actually threw a chair at me. I saw him recently, and he told me he just graduated from college. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

2. I have parents who are CEOs of their own companies come in and tell me how to run my classroom. I would never think to go to their office and tell them how to do their jobs.

3. We don’t arrive at school 10 minutes before your child does. And we don’t leave the minute they get back on the bus. Many of us put in extra hours before and after school.

4. We are not the enemy. Parents and teachers really are on the same side.

5. The truth is simple: Your kid will lie to get out of trouble.

6. Encourage your child to keep reading. That’s key to success in the classroom at any age.

7. We can tell the difference between a parent helping their child with homework and doing it for them (especially when they’re clueless in class the next day).

8. Teaching is a calling. There’s not a teacher alive who will say she went into this for the money.

9. Just because your child says he did his homework doesn’t mean it’s true. You must check. Every night.

10. Teaching is not as joyful as it once was for many of us; we get jaded too. Disrespectful students and belligerent parents take a toll on us.

11. Parents give their kids the pricey gadgets and labels, but what kids really crave is for you to talk to them. They want to know you are interested in their lives.

12. We spend money out of our own pockets to buy things our students need, such as school supplies and even shoes.

13. Supportive, involved parents are crucial. But some are “helicopter parents”–they hover too much.

14. Having the summer off is great, but many of us have to take on extra jobs–teaching summer school, tutoring–to make ends meet.

15. Success is not achieved by just making kids memorize flash cards and prepping them for an Ivy League school. Sensible parents know there is a college for every kid, and that responsibility and good citizenship are what really drive success.

16. Nobody says “the dog ate my homework” anymore, but we hear a lot of “I left it on the kitchen table.” And then Mom will send in a note to back up the story.

17. We wish parents would make their kids own up to their actions instead of pressuring us to bend the rules.

18. Please stop doing everything for your child and allow them to make mistakes. How else will they learn? Kids are not motivated to succeed because they feel their parents will bail them out every time.

19. There are days when I just want to quit, but then that one smile from that one kid, changes it all.

Sources: American Federation of Teachers; interviews with elementary and middle school teachers in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and Texas.