Advice for New Teachers

Aside from my mom and dad, teachers have had the greatest positive influence on my life. Since teachers have such a powerful effect on our kids, they must also be guided by that wonderful advice from Spiderman, “…with great power there must also come great responsibility…”  Here’s how to use that influence responsibly.

  • You are always under a magnifying glass. Everything you say and do has an effect greater than what you intended. Our kids look up to you, more so than sports heroes or Hollywood stars. Be careful of the way you dress, the language you use, and the jokes you tell.  For teachers of older kids, please watch your language. Don’t say “suck,” “shut up” or use foul words. Here’s the rule. If you wouldn’t talk that way to your principal or your grandma, don’t use those words with our kids.
  • Don’t be our kids’ friend. You spend more time with our children than most parents. They will get emotionally close to you, and share things about themselves that they may never tell us. Listen, understand, advise, and challenge but don’t be a friend to our children. Be a responsible and loving adult that our kids admire and respect, not a pseudo peer. Don’t ever friend our kids on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Be gentle with our children, but don’t let them ever confuse niceness with weakness.
  • Set high standards. One of the many things I’ve learned from parents is that kids’ behavior rises or falls depending upon the standards that are set for them. Expect a lot of our children. Don’t tolerate misbehavior or disrespect of you or other kids. Set and enforce high expectations for appropriate behavior. Challenge them to overcome their own self-doubts about what they can accomplish.

As our kids get older, please don’t enable their irresponsible behavior. Set deadlines for their work. Criticize mediocre performance, and severely punish any type of cheating or ethical lapses.

  • Connect with parents. Please communicate with us. Most parents want to do the right thing and support your efforts. Tell us when our kids misbehave or fail to complete assignments. Don’t forget to send an email about something positive. Ask for our help. Be specific in what you need. We love our kids so much and we want to do the right thing. Many times, we just don’t know what to do and would appreciate your guidance.
  • Don’t ever give up on our needy kids. We know that sometimes we send our kids to school who are hungry, tired, grumpy, confused, or living in a tumultuous family situation. Some of our children have severe emotional or behavioral problems. We don’t expect you to solve all their issues, just to do your best within your limitations. Please continue to reach out to those kids and their families. They really need you.

On behalf of all the parents who don’t say this enough, thank you for touching the lives of our children.

Next week: A new role for Grandparents….and they don’t like it!

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