Part of Grit's "Crib Sheets" series—Your totally local guide to getting through the back-to-school season. Also check out...
* These crazy helpful tips for new CofC students. Some may surprise even you long-time locals...
* 10 smart looks for the school year kids' version. (Stay tuned... hot looks for college kids are coming later in the week...)
* Should you channel Van Wilder? Why college kids should hold onto their meal card like grim death
* How young professionals can retain their dignity in a college town 5 tips for ducking the vomitous coeds
* What Back to School looked like in 1970s Super '70s photos, "sizzle dresses" and all
* 6 (Ahem) wise choices to make in college (like for instance, when you discover your roomie spraying perfume down her drawers... like that)
* Where to find the best teachers (the answer will surprise you)
* 10 smart looks for for college kids. We've got your baseball mini dress and King Tut iPhone case
* The very least you should do in college. Seriously, here's your bare minimum
* 13 hilarious back-to-school fails (bare butts, inappropriate school pics, and stupid misspellings included)
Dear Parents of School-Aged Children (especially those with children in high school),
As the new school years looms before us, I’d like to offer some advice...
1. Give new teachers a break. You were hoping your child would get the veteran teacher by which all other teachers in the school are judged. Instead, they got the rookie straight out of college. All is not lost, but you need to relax and give the newbie some time to grow into the job. Teaching is a difficult profession, and I can remember my first year of teaching being one of the worst years of my life. The workload is way more than you expect, and you are almost always being asked to teach things outside of your comfort zone—I was an Ancient and European history major, so, of course, ended up teaching 20th-Century American History.
Rookie teachers make mistakes—one teacher I knew came dressed as "Oops I Did it Again" Britney Spears for Halloween her first year. But, what they lack in experience they make up for in enthusiasm. Most new teachers are very earnest and hardworking, and they really, really, really want to do well as teachers. There is a very high turnover rate among new teachers, and too many leave the profession after a few years. Parents complaining about every little mistake isn’t helpful in retaining people who will—eventually—be very good and effective teachers.
2. Don’t highjack Parents/Back-to-School Night. Most schools have a “Back-to-School” or Parents Night during the first few weeks. It’s a good time to make contacts with teachers and to learn the basics of what the courses your children are taking will cover that year. I encourage all parents to go, however, this is not an opportunity to take over a teachers class. Feel free to ask questions, but try to keep them general or things that will be interesting or useful to other parents. This is not the time to ask questions specifically about your child or his or her performance in the classes. That’s what parent conferences are for. Think of it like a dinner party, except without food and drinks and with your child’s teacher. You wouldn’t hog the host all night and prevent the other attendees from getting some time to chat with them, so don’t do it here.
3. Not every kid can/should go to Harvard. By about 9th or 10th grade, students should begin making a list of colleges they want to explore. Students and parents need to be realistic about this. Not every kid can get into Harvard and not every kid should. You want to find the right college for them—and that might be a smaller school, or one that may not be Ivy League material overall, but that has a great department for what they want to do. Max Fischer—“My top schools where I want to apply to are Oxford and the Sorbonne. But my safety's Harvard.”
Lowcountry Teacher teaches history and English to 6th- through 12th-graders and holds degrees from Rutgers University, University of Maryland, and University of Oxford.