By Kathleen Hardage
“Back To School.” What do those words mean to you? Certainly they bring memories and emotions, and those are very different for students, former students, parents, and teachers. As a Christian and even as a church, how can we build positive emotions and fond memories for the teachers in our lives?
(In this article, the pronoun “she” will be used to refer to teachers, simply because the majority are female. But please know that this writer values the male teachers out there as well)
1. Pray for a teacher. This is an easy pattern to develop, especially if you are a parent. As you send your student out the door or drop him off at school, pray for the teachers who will influence that child today.
2. Tell her! As a former teacher, I assure you there is nothing more affirming than to know someone, especially a parent, is praying for the teacher. And how will she know if you don’t tell her? Send an email, note, or card in the mail every once in awhile. Include a Scripture if you want and tell the teacher you support her in prayer. It will make her day!
3. Support the teacher at home. Be verbally respectful of the teacher as you listen to your child’s report of each day. Be careful not to look or sound skeptical or defensive as your child describes some event at school. Remember that children perceive things from a childlike point of view. Ask questions, but keep the atmosphere neutral. Children feel empowered to make a story bigger and bolder if they sense Mom and Dad are getting stirred up!
4. If you do have questions, contact the teacher. She wants to keep clear communication with you. Please do not skip this step and contact the principal. Whatever you want to discuss involving your student; the teacher is the one who is there with him or her and best knows the answer to your question or concern. The principal would just have to go ask the teacher anyway, so it is best to communicate directly with her. Remember, you and she want the same thing… success for your child!
5. Little surprises are a big boost. Once in awhile, surprise the teacher with a simple gift, such as a few dry erase markers, a star-shaped hole punch, or a package of stickers. You would be shocked to know how much of her own money a teacher spends on these kind of things. Other nice ideas might be a $5 gift card to Sonic for an icy drink after work, a can of Coke and a package of microwave popcorn for a relaxing Friday evening, or a small vase of flowers for her desk. And never underestimate the power of heartfelt words in a note or letter. Since school calendars and report cards are set up on a six-week schedule, this makes it easy to remember to send a little something six times a year.
Your child’s teacher can be a wonderful gift in the present and future of the life of your family. Think about it, this person will teach your child to read! The basics of the U.S. Constitution! How to play an instrument or sport that will bring lifelong enrichment! Embrace what teachers will mean for the knowledge and success of your child and for our culture. They need and deserve our support.
Kathleen Hardage is a former school teacher and graduate of Baylor University. She is married to BGCT Executive Director, Dr. David Hardage.