Once again, it’s that time of year when parents everywhere walk with a little extra pep in their step. That’s right… school is back in session! My first-born will attend her first day of preschool next week. It’s definitely bittersweet, though. On one hand, I am so excited for her to have the opportunity to meet new friends and learn new things, but on the other hand, this means my little baby is really growing up so quickly! Aside from that, this time of year has me reflecting on my former life as a teacher.

Although I made the decision to make the change to a different career, I would not trade the time I spent teaching for anything. If nothing else, it certainly will help me appreciate my children’s teachers that much more. In fact, there are some things I feel you should know about your child’s teacher. You might even find you appreciate them a little bit more for it.

Teachers are definitely underpaid. One thing is certain, and that is teachers do not enter their profession for the money. There are numerous other careers that offer higher pay. They are there because they truly care about children and want to make a difference in their students’ lives. When I first started teaching, I discovered that someone I knew who worked an entry-level corporate job (with no college degree required) made more money than I did. I have to admit, I found that a bit disconcerting. With teaching comes a great deal of responsibility. They play a huge role with inspiring and shaping the youth who will one day become our doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, political leaders, and, well, you get the point.

Teaching is NOT what it used to be. The main focus of education has become standardized test performance and because of that fact teachers are not allowed the same freedoms they once had with regards to adding their own special creative touch. Of course teachers need to be held accountable for their students’ success, but I also feel that a teacher should be allowed opportunities to teach important lessons that, dare I say it, don’t link to one of the CMT strands <gasp>. I recently saw this really awesome letter written to teachers that really hit home for me and speaks an important truth in a humorous way. Teaching is so much more than test results.

Teachers often end up spending money out of their own pocket on school supplies, decorations, books, etc. for their students and classroom. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor my first year of teaching when I was told what my allotted classroom budget was for the year. Simply laughable. All I can say is that it was a good thing I didn’t have a mortgage or children of my own at the time because I spent a lot of money from my paychecks on classroom necessities.

The number one thing a teacher wants from a parent is a partnership. It is truly in the best interest of the child for a teacher and parent to work together as a team. There may come a time when the feedback you receive from your child’s teacher is not what you were hoping for when it comes to grades or behavior. However, it is important to remember that working together to resolve the problem, and communication, is key. You may not always see eye to eye, but just remember that you both have the same goal; to help shape your child into a successful, responsible, caring, educated individual who will contribute to society in a positive way.

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And so I leave you with this… At some point this school year, maybe during your child’s Open House, or at one of the parent-teacher conferences you attend, or perhaps even on a random day you pick your child up from school, say a special little thank you to your child’s teacher for all they do. I know it will mean the world to them.

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