I like to think that, when my children go to school, I will be one of those supportive teacher-parents who have an unfailing belief in the competency of their offspring's teachers. I hope I’ll instil in my children a respect for education, take any and all of their transgressions seriously and see decisions that go against them as character-building. As a parent, I want the best for my children. As a teacher, I know how important a positive working relationship is.
However, there's a possibility that I’ll turn into that other stereotype: the difficult teacher-parent. You know the type, the one who signs off an email with their position at another school, as if that has some bearing. The one who in all correspondence – and in person – shoehorns their own experience, beliefs or practices into the conversation.
Whether you ask for it or not, they will furnish you with their opinion on your scheme of work or style of teaching. If their child is in trouble, it is your behaviour management or the school’s code of conduct that is the issue.
It never ceases to amaze me how someone who understands the demands of the job, and knows what it's like working within the confines of state education, can be so challenging. They know how precious your time is, but are strangely happy to demand meetings to discuss the most trivial of matters.
I hope to use this as a cautionary tale, a gentle reminder to keep my opinion to myself. Christmas cards, bottles of wine, handshakes and thank-yous – those are what I would like to pass on to my children’s teachers, not patronising advice. That said, I did go into the job because I love the sound of my own voice…
The writer is a maths teacher in London
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