If your child has started a new school, they’ll be meeting lots of new people.  Some of those are children who will become friends, but most importantly, they’ll meet teachers. Teachers can make or break your child’s experience of school.  Celebrities often include a favourite teacher in their thank you speeches at awards ceremonies, or when they’re interviewed, they refer to a teacher who encouraged them.  Ask most adults and they will have a fond memory of a teacher who made a difference when they were at school.

It’s the little things that count

The few words of praise for work well done, the encouragement that the child has the ability to succeed, the recognition of other attributes in a child who may not be the top of the class when it comes to their studies. The biggest leap for most children is moving up from primary to secondary education, when they have to deal with not just one or two teachers, but one for every subject. As a parent your first contact with your child’s teachers may be at the first parents evening, when you get a few minutes with each of your child’s teachers to discuss their progress.  The conversation tends to revolve around their academic prowess and there’s rarely time to really get to know these people who have a huge influence on your child’s future. If you know any teachers, you’ll know that spare time is something they have very little of.  If they’re not teaching, they’re marking or developing lesson plans, so they won’t thank you for asking to meet with them outside the formal parents evening.  They couldn’t meet the parents of all their students, it’s simply not practical.  So how do you get to know your child’s teachers?

Talk to your kids!

It may seem obvious, but an ongoing conversation about their school experiences will reveal a lot about their teachers. It’s more than just ‘What is your maths (English/biology/history/etc) teacher like?’  You know that you’re likely to get a general answer like ‘they’re OK’ or ‘he’s great’ or ‘I can’t stand her’.  But the ongoing conversation will reveal more about how that teacher treats the students.  Whether they help people who need it or expect the kids to be self-sufficient; whether they’re an encourager or a teller and so much more. Encourage your kids to tell you their school ‘stories’ about ‘a funny thing happened today …’ or ‘you’ll never believe what happened in class …’  You’ll learn a lot about their teachers and that will help you to know where a bit of extra support might be needed.