In the next couple of weeks, millions of parents around the world will walk into their children’s classrooms for Back to School Night, sit in their kids’ seats, and open the desks that their children cleaned earlier that day. What parents don’t realize is that just hours before the Back to School Night presentation, the teachers were frantically cleaning their desks, too.
For many teachers, Back to School Night is the most challenging event of the year. Speaking to students is easy. Talking to their parents can be nerve-wracking. To get through their Back to School Night jitters, teachers have their tricks. Some turn out the lights and play a slide show so they don’t have to look at the parents. Others talk till the very last minute so that the moms and dads don’t have time to ask questions. I always find the mom with the biggest smile and stare at her through my entire presentation.
As teachers give their Back to School Night presentations, parents listen to the teacher’s expectations and goals for the year. Yes, the moms and dads are interested in homework tips, field trips, and Picture Day photos, but as they sit in their children’s seats they’re thinking about more important things. I can see it on their faces. They are wondering if the man or woman standing in front of them will care for their child. Does he want the best for my son or daughter? Will he love my baby? More than anything else, this is what parents really want to know on Back to School Night. And so, I will tell you.
Teachers care deeply. We think about your child as we drive to work and when we’re correcting papers at night. We talk about your children at home and at parties. We worry about them as though they’re our own.
We understand our influence. We realize that more than teaching subjects, we teach us. And we know your child is watching. We also understand that in order to reach and inspire your child we must connect with them. The greater their trust, the more apt they are in believing what we’re trying to accomplish. That is why we open up and share our own personal stories about our dogs and our families and our childhoods. That is why we let them see us cry when we are reading Charlotte’s Web.
We are grateful. We know that without parental support, our jobs would be impossible. So thank you moms and dads for practicing those multiplication flash cards and reviewing those spelling words and reading with your children at home. Thank you for making costumes for the school play, sending in birthday cupcakes, and bringing in the dog for Show and Tell. And thank you for coming to your child’s Back to School Night this year. We notice that you came. And please, when you’re there, remember to smile really big. It helps.