Best Teacher Ever
by Dan Coulter, Coulter Video, August 5, 2004
For more articles like this
Think about the
best teacher you ever had. It’s an uncommon pleasure to remember
someone who believed in you before you were sure you were worth
I remember a third grade teacher who made the sun rise and set
with her look of approval. Actually, I don’t remember the sun
ever setting. I just remember she made me feel I was worth
something in a way I don’t think I’ve ever lost. I worked
awfully hard to please that teacher.
It’s what we all want for our kids: the gold standard of
teachers. A classroom leader whom you want to please because you
see your self-worth reflected in a mirror you can trust.
As I said in a recent article, it’s really important for parents
of kids with special needs in mainstream classes to provide
input the school can use when they make teacher assignments. I
also touched on areas such as meeting with teachers before
school starts, sharing information about your child and his
diagnosis, and making it clear you’re always available to talk.
With a new school year about to start, it’s time to think about
ways we can help bring out the best in the teachers who’ve been
selected to work with our kids.
Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. Sending
regular notes to teachers thanking them for things you
appreciate lets those teachers know you’re talking with your
child about the school day – and who isn’t affected by having
the good things they do appreciated? If you have to look a bit
to find something to praise, you may just become the bright spot
in a teacher’s day – and help that teacher rediscover some of
the biggest rewards of teaching.
If you can make the time, it’s a good idea to volunteer to be a
“room mom” or “room dad.” Providing logistical support that
frees up more of a teacher’s time to spend on teaching can
benefit both your child and his or her classmates. By serving as
a chaperone, you can help ensure that field trips go smoothly,
particularly if you have a younger child who has problems with
meltdowns in new or unfamiliar situations.
If you really want to go the extra mile, make yourself available
to volunteer in ways that don’t directly support your child.
Volunteers become an extension of the school staff – and staff
members naturally tend to go out of their way for people they
know and interact with regularly. Schools have different
policies on volunteers, so you need to find out about local
rules and customs. My wife, for example, served as a parent
volunteer in the "college and career center" at our son's high
school. She organized materials from colleges and vocational
schools and helped students find the information they sought.
Sometimes schools are short on supplies. It may be helpful to
ask what resources your child's teacher needs and then see if
you can find a business in the community to make a donation. You
need to work closely with the teacher to make sure you're going
after things that will be truly helpful -- and that you're
working within the school's policy on donations. This is
especially important if a business might want to publicize its
donation. You may want to come up with some ideas, then see if
you can brainstorm with a teacher to identify things she or he
will find really beneficial. If you make the offer, but let the
teacher make the decisions and lead the show, you're more likely
to provide needed, welcome support.
Even for natural teachers, leading classrooms filled with
today's kids can be tough. Letting teachers know you care about
the job they do and that you’re willing to lend your support can
help bring out the best they have to offer – and increase the
chances your child will have multiple candidates for his or her
“best teacher ever.” Supporting the administrative team can help
put an entire school staff on your side.
It’s easy to see educators only in context of their jobs.
Thinking about them as complete people with the same challenges
– and the same appreciation for praise and support -- that we
all have can give you insights into ways you can help them help
your child. A happy, appreciated teacher is a better teacher.
It all comes down to thinking about what we want for our kids
and supporting the people who could make our adult children
think back to third grade, or seventh or twelfth -- before they
make the right choices and do the right thing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the writer/producer of the
video: “ASPERGER SYNDROME: Success In The Mainstream Classroom.”
You’ll find more articles and information on his website at:
You can read our reviews of several of Dan's videos at
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