Get inside the teacher’s head

by Brittany Gilbert

No matter what grade your student is in, their teacher wants them to be successful, too. I contacted several of my teacher friends to get their top tips for a successful school year. When students are prepared for the school year, everyone has a better, less stressful time. Positive relationships are formed when everyone is on the same page.

Be well rested before school each day. Older students are more at risk of being tired and distracted because they stay up late or forget to set an alarm and rush to get to school in the morning. I know I’ve heard my whole life about getting a good night’s sleep and breakfast before school, but being a teacher really opened my eyes to the necessity. Students who aren’t well rested and fed are sleeping through the first hour of the day, are cranky and unwilling to participate.

Come prepared to learn — even on the first day of school. At my school, we were required to have a lesson prepared on the first day of school, but most students come to school thinking they get a free day. Teachers know that there isn’t a moment to spare and there’s so much material to fit in every day. It helps if students understand and are on the same page. Also, teachers provide a list of materials needed for a reason. Please make sure to get these materials in a timely manner. If you are able, bless another family by buying their school supplies.

Parents must support the teacher/school in front of their children. A parent’s attitude toward a certain teacher becomes their child’s attitude as well. Never undermine or talk negatively about a teacher in front of a child. By supporting the teacher, you are supporting your child and helping them have a successful year. Speak positively about the teacher, school and even other classmates in front of your student, and encourage them to speak positively about others as well. If there’s an issue, bring it up with the teacher and help teach your student in how to deal with it. 

Parents and students should both know the school dress code. It would be very helpful if parents helped make sure their student is following the dress code. Infractions take away from class time and often take the student away from class in order to change. Teachers are responsible for enforcing the dress code, and they don’t want to be the bad guy either. Even if you think the dress code is silly, there is a reason it is there.

Read the school handbook and be familiar with policies. You never know when you’ll need to be aware of certain rules and procedures. Often when a student would get in trouble and try to argue their case, the teacher or principal can point to the handbook and remind them that the rules are clearly stated.

Parents should be an advocate for their student. Support and encourage your student in all areas of learning. One teacher specifically mentions avoiding using statements like “my child doesn’t like to read” — making excuses for your student will only set them back. The only way to become proficient in a subject is to work hard.

Communication is key. A lot of teachers have ways to keep parents informed on what is going on in the classroom. Newsletters, email lists and other programs are often used to help with ongoing communication between caregivers and teachers. These are excellent resources to keep parents informed about homework, projects and important dates for the classroom. If these resources aren’t available, check with your student’s teacher weekly to find out what assignments are due, what they might be missing and what your student can do to stay or get on track in class. This can help with so many issues that may arise and will show your student that you are an informed parent and excuses won’t work.

It really doesn’t take much to be on the same page as your student’s teacher. Hopefully you will find that these are practical ways for your student to have a successful school year. After all, that’s the teacher’s goal, too.


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].