Journal, Teacher Tips

What If?

I teach an online course for future teachers. I was grading last night when I read a student’s journal posting detailing her fears about interacting (of failure to interact) with parents. She was candid in describing possible scenarios. “What if a parent had a horrible school experience and hates teachers?” “What if the family doesn’t value education?” “What if I don’t make a good impression?” “What if I cannot connect with them at all?”

I asked myself, “What if I give her the wrong advice?” I found myself falling into the trap of fear and doubt. I know better. I know that being my authentic self is all I can be, and it’s good enough. I love teaching, and this student is obviously worrying herself sick over ‘what ifs.’ Her anxiety was reaching toxic levels. I thought about the most honest and heartfelt (hopefully helpful) advice I could give her. I told her to highlight the student’s strengths. Sending home notes once in awhile that report effort, acts of kindness, and improvement send a clear message that you are noticing their child’s growth. It will help build a bridge that may undo preconceived notions about the teacher or the school. A student that goes home happy and feeling supported is bound to share that with their parents. A teacher’s job is to make sure they get to know their students, let them know you value them. When parents are not part of a student’s support team, that means the teacher gives even more of their heart and time to that student.

I think it’s good to give a glance at the what ifs, but more important is to be proactive in how you will connect. What if you make a real difference? What if the parents want to be involved? What if that student remembers you all their life?

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Teacher Tips


Always tap into a student’s prior knowledge, building on what they know. Help them make connections by using visuals, engaging in partner share, review previous lesson. Moving forward to new subject matter requires assessment to determine if there is a need to reteach.

Know your students! Some can take leaps while others require review and rehearsal. There is much to be gained by assessing exactly where your students are.