Teachers – Some of the Most Influential People in a Child’s Life

The Education Council offers some useful tips for parents experiencing teachers for the first time

Outside the family and whānau, the relationship your child has with her teacher could be one of the most influential relationships in her life. The Education Council is the professional body for all teachers in New Zealand. Our role is to ensure teachers have the right attributes, skills, and competencies to teach our kids.

But that responsibility is not ours alone. Learning doesn’t just come from a teacher. We all have a role to play. We have pulled together our top ten tips for those parents who are experiencing parent teacher interviews, schools or early childhood education, for the first time?

Tip 1 Get to know your child’s teacher

Make an effort to get to know your child’s teacher even before the parent-teacher interview. Many schools provide you with the opportunity to meet the teacher at the beginning of the school term but make a time to meet them outside of that. You are entitled to ask if you can meet them before or after school. This person is going to be spending a lot of time with your child. You will want to know them and help them do the best job they can. Teachers welcome contact with parents.

Tip 2 Help your teacher teach

Give your child’s teacher as much information as possible to allow them to teach your child. Tell them what motivates and interests your child and how to get the best of them. Make sure your child’s teacher is made aware of any issues relevant to the performance of your child at school. Encourage your teacher to call if there are any issues or questions she might have about your child.

Tip 3 – It’s all about teamwork

Two heads are better than one; there’s a group of you working on behalf of your child. If you think of this journey as one which is experienced by a team of people your child will benefit.

Tip 4 – Park those preconceptions

Don’t let unhappy memories of school or a particular teacher influence your relationship with your child’s teacher. Assume your child’s teacher is always acting in the best interests of your child. Get to know your child’s teacher and break down any barriers you may have inadvertently imposed.

Tip 5 Ask yourself how you can involve yourself with the school community

Offer to accompany a field trip or contribute to a social event. Any way to build a connection with your child’s teacher will see you building a growing understanding of the role your child’s teacher plays. Contributing to the school community is an investment in the education of your child.

Tip 6 Understand what National Standards are about

Understand what National Standards are and do but don’t be fixated on them. The National Standards benchmarks are important but achievement is also much broader than that. We’re seeing much greater awareness of the role of student motivation, of developing the vital learning-to-learn and ‘soft’ skills that help students progress at school, and give them the resilience, communication and problem-solving skills they’ll need as adults. The national standards cover reading, writing, and mathematics: crucial content areas, but not all we need students to master.

Tip 7 Understand what deciles mean

Deciles are misleading. Focus on what your child’s school is doing that’s successful. It will be evident if your school is a great learning environment for your child by the way the school looks and is presented and the way the teachers engage with you.

Tip 8 Ask if your school is part of a Community of Learning and if not why not?

Good teachers understand collaboration is the key – they will work across their teaching community and across the school community to get the best results for their students. Excellent teachers will work with parents and understand the role that parents can play. Excellent teachers may become excellent principals and excellent principals will lead with vision and purpose. Communities of Learning are all about sharing best practice and schools collaborating with other schools to get the best results for their students.

Tip 9 –Ask about the ratio of qualified teachers at your child’s early childhood centre

The Education Council believes supporting teachers is a good start to elevating the quality of early childhood education across New Zealand. We are working hard to elevate the status of all teachers – including early childhood teachers. Quality teaching is quality teaching regardless of what sector you teach in. We think a good place to start is by looking at how we educate our trainee ECE teachers and start shifting focus from quantity to quality.

Tip 10 – Enjoy the experience 

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