'The truth about school reports' and 11 other things teachers want all parents to know.

In the same way that I have no clue how crazy parenting is, I’m sure parents can’t imagine what it’s like to create quality learning experiences for 20-30 unique, crazy and in some cases diabolical children all at once, without anyone’s head getting set on fire.

We all know that our gorgeous kids achieve the absolute best outcomes when the adults in their lives work together, so here’s my offer. I would be more than happy to clear up any of your “what in the world was that teacher thinking?!” questions from a teacher’s perspective.

Listen: Mrs Mogg joined This Glorious Mess this week to spill the beans on the secrets of the staff room. 

  1. Sometimes teachers make mistakes, have to “make-do”, forget things or have to cut corners just like parents do.

Yes we get paid to educate and care for your kids, but there are more than just your kids in the classroom.

Keeping track of 20-30 individuals is an incredible juggling act! Sometimes little Amy’s home readers will not get swapped. Little Johnny’s hat won’t get retrieved from lost property, or someone else will be using the library in our class’ designated time and we may not be able to let your child borrow new books for the week.

Even the most well-organised schools can be very chaotic and there is always something out of the norm happening (think book week, mid-year concerts, athletics carnivals etc).

2. Teachers are under a lot of pressure.

There’s so much pressure to make sure each child achieves curriculum outcomes, and often we take it very personally if a child isn’t “where they should be” academically.

When we implore you to read at home with your child, it’s not because we think you’re doing a sub-standard job… it’s actually more that we wish we could give more one on one time to your child because EVERY child is capable of making progress; we just can’t give the individualised attention we’d love to be able to, and we assume (rightly or wrongly) that you might have a chance to do this at home.


3. When we “sugar-coat” things or seem overly vague in school reports, it’s because we’re obligated to.

We are expected to use a certain type of language that often doesn’t really say anything helpful to the parents. Some of the concerns we may want to express sound much harsher or alarming to parents in written form than they do in a face to face conversation.

As a parent, if you’re concerned about some aspect of your child’s progress at school (social, behavioural or academic), the best way to get a more realistic and less “clinical” response from the teacher is to talk to us face to face at parent-teacher interviews.

How PARENTS feel about parent-teacher interviews. (Image: ABC)

4. We hate NAPLAN just as much, if not more, than you and your children do.

5. Often, children act completely differently for their teacher than they do for their parents.

We can see them change when they are around you.

The most common thing that I have found parents are surprised by come parent-teacher interview time is when I say their child is extremely well behaved and studious. Do not beat yourself up about this or wonder why they're not as well-behaved for you.

The reality is that at school, we have the massive advantage of very clear boundaries. The children also know that I don't HAVE to love them; but that you as parents will never stop no matter what they put you through! This makes most of them less likely to test the boundaries at school like they do at home... if we tell you they are well-behaved, kind, caring, helpful, courteous, diligent or any of the above, you are doing an incredible, incredible job. Their positive behaviour for us directly reflects the love, patience and support they get from you.

6. We do not think you're a bad parent.

If your child is cheeky, always in trouble/on time-out; or you see "Bobby's progress will improve as he learns not to distract others during learning time" on the report we do NOT think badly of you or them!

Often the more mischievous students are the most entertaining. But seriously, there's always a reason that children act out; whether it be that they feel unsafe, scared, daunted, bored. It's part of our job to figure out what's causing their behaviour and the more that teachers and parents can share the responsibility for working on this with the children, the better the chance of improving their behaviour and attitude will be.

7. We know your secrets.

From about four-year-old kindergarten, your children tell us A LOT about things that happen at home. Particularly things that they begin to realise may not be "normal". Often they announce it to the class. We know all your secrets. Just sayin'.


8. We love your kids.

We're not supposed to, but we do. We've known them, watched them grow, had some insanely entertaining conversations with them and get little glimpses into the universe that's going on inside their head. Sometimes we care about them so much that can't sleep at night if we know there's something they're not happy about. We spend so much of our time with them and any good teacher will agree that we don't do it for the holidays. We do it for the love of children.

9. As much as your children are the centre of your world, you are also the centre of theirs.

My students talk about their families non-stop. You are everything to them. Even if they play it cool at pick-up, they are excited to see you.

10. The gift we all want.

The BEST end-of-year gift I've ever received was a bottle of Coonawarra Shiraz. It was very clear to me that that family completely understood what my job actually entails!

11. We are just as flummoxed with the children's obsession with technology as you are.

They're in a completely different world to what we grew up in and we may make an effort to use technology positively in the classroom, but we also love good old fashioned pencil and paper.

12. A pearl of wisdom.

The best advice I can ever give to parents to improve a child's academic, social and emotional development is to spend time talking to them. Share experiences. Involve them in simple tasks like writing a shopping list. It's worth the patience and the effort.

Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess here:

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