5…4…3…2…1…Happy new (school) year! Seeing the new boxes of crayons and glue sticks in the stores is my cue to start making my new (school) year’s resolutions. It is also the cue that starts my nerves working overtime. I’ve been teaching for 17 years, and I still spend a good part of July in nervous anticipation for the upcoming school year. What worked last year? What needs to be changed? Will the kids like me? Will the parents like me?
In addition to being a teacher, I’m also a parent. I get it. I know that your worries start working overtime also, as August draws near. What made last year a great (or not-so-great) year? What needs to be changed? Will they learn what they need to know? Will the kids like my child? Will the teacher like my child?
So, as you’re gearing up for the first day of school, whether as a newbie or veteran, here are a few suggestions to start off the year on the right foot:
- Be present – orientation, back-to-school night, conferences…make it a point to attend. I have to admit that these occasions are when I am most nervous – it’s one thing to impress a classroom of 5 year-olds, but winning over their parents is nerve-wracking. Teachers put a lot of thought into these parent-only events, and we want you to get a lot out of them. Please come and ask questions, or email questions afterward. That was me after back-to-school night in my son’s kindergarten year. Kindergarten is my thing, but I still had questions – lots of questions. It’s OK.
- Be helpful – ask what you can do to help throughout the year. This does not need to be time-consuming or grand-scale. I get it – I’m a working mom, too. I can’t volunteer my time during the day, but I’ve signed up for my kids’ school’s PTO’s “teacher appreciation” committee. Every few months, I contribute a snack for the teachers’ lounge. Easy, and I truly know the teachers are grateful (trust me on this one!). One of my past parents works for a local TV station. She contacted me the first day about what she can do at home to help – cutting, gluing, tracing, sorting. I gave her a weekly 10-minute job, and it took hours off my plate. Win-win.
- Be positive – sometimes I can’t decide who is more nervous about the start of school – students or parents. Especially kindergarten. This is a whole new ballgame for many kids. No matter how nervous you are for your child, put on a brave face and tell them it is going to be AWESOME! Young kids live in the present, so all they see is the end of days at the pool and late summer nights. They can’t see all the fun and excitement that will come as the year moves along. My son has always struggled in school, and he never seems excited for the start of a new year. And while I can wallow as well as he can, and yearn for carefree summer days, I buck up and remind him about ALL the great things that can happen this year and why I’m so excited!
- Be patient – during the first week(s) of school, teachers may not sit down. Our plan time will be spent collaborating, using the bathroom, eating the lunch we didn’t get to eat and catching our breath. I encourage parents to email me anytime, and I’m happy to answer all questions. Just please be patient if we don’t respond right away.
Trust me when I tell you that we are so excited for the year ahead! Nervous, but excited. We want your kids to learn, grow and have fun this year! Help us help your child be the best they can be! Your loves are our top priority every day. I know there is a teacher doing the same thing for my loves.