In our family, home schooling was not an option. Mostly because Steve and I have engineering degrees and teaching is not, as I would say, a “core competency”. (My kids would laugh at this understatement…In fact, if we ever wanted to punish them, we would threaten to home school them!) Anyway, because our kids all go to public school, they spend a lot of time with their teachers. We’ve had good teachers and not-so-good teachers, and it’s a fine line between advocating for your kid and letting them figure out how to deal with someone who they may not particularly like. Sometimes, a teacher that a kid doesn’t like at the beginning of a school year turns out to be the one they learn the most from, or really appreciate in the long run.
Educating kids is a team effort, with the teachers, students, and parents all playing important roles. If any part of that trifecta isn’t supportive, it can fall apart. I often hear from teachers that the hardest part of their job is dealing with the parents. It’s fine to have a different opinion than your teacher, but allowing kids to disrespect their teachers simply has no good outcome. (See my related post Top Ten Things Parents Can Do to Support Teachers).
To help honor our teachers, we decided early on to establish a tradition we call Favorite Teacher Night. I have to give credit to Steven Covey, as he mentioned something similar in his book “7 Habits for Highly Effective Families”. We’ve put our spin on it, and here’s how it works:
Near the end of the school year, each kid chooses their favorite teacher of the entire school year. For a preschooler, the choice is pretty straightforward, for an elementary student, usually it’s their primary teacher, but sometimes a “special” teacher (such as music or PE) can be chosen. For middle and high schoolers, it’s gets a little tougher, but they can still only choose one teacher. We write up an invitation, plan a nice meal, and invite all of the teachers over to our home for dinner. The kids take part in menu planning, house cleaning, and helping prepare the meal. When they were younger, they would proudly show the teacher their room, introduce them to family pets, and be their “host” for the evening. (Older kids sometime skip the room tour). We always start with cocktails and appetizers to put the teachers at ease, and then dinner in the dining room complete with nice china. During the dinner, each child will give their teacher a special compliment. (Yet another reason to practice compliments – see my post on Special Plate night). The teachers are genuinely touched by this, and we find they often share the experience back at school. Sometimes I’ll hear, “I hope I’m the Favorite Teacher this year!”
To me, it’s the ultimate compliment and show of respect, to invite someone into your home and honor them with a meal. Yes, it takes some planning and work, but the reward is worth the effort.