A Back-to-School Note

As school resumes this week for my children and so many others across the Claremore area, as a parent I’d like to launch this new school year by raising up an appreciation to all our teachers and administrators. “THANK YOU!” Thanks for all your caring service to our children in previous years. Thanks for your willingness to serve in this same way during the 2013-14 school year.

school-bus-1368136904lVvPlease know that you are in our hearts and prayers throughout – when it’s relatively smooth sailing (and maybe this lasts only an hour or so the first day), when you’re seeking some wind to keep sailing forward (maybe during those last, long stretches prior to winter and summer breaks), when the waves are high and the sailing is rough (perhaps those days when every student’s had 3 donuts and a pint of chocolate milk for breakfast and just happens to be one of those no-recess-due-to-bad-weather days).

I’m also raising up a challenge to my fellow parents who have children in public or private schools. SAY “THANK YOU!” Maintain an active, practical display of your gratitude for our teachers throughout this school year. Avoid the “this is just their job” attitude. It is their job but it’s a difficult one, and like most of us, a demonstration of sincere gratitude can help them thrive in their job.

Our teachers and administrators receive an overwhelming flow of complaints, and many of these are given critically and ineffectively. If you have a complaint, certainly communicate this concern to your child’s teacher. But before you complain, take a deep breath and write it down. Then, if necessary, when you do speak to the teacher, speak respectfully, knowing that she or he also wants what’s best for your child, and focus on specific actions or attitudes rather than character or intentions. And always be open to listen at least as much as you speak. After all, this is a collaborative effort.

So here’s an idea – make a vow to do two things this school year:

(1) Once per week, identify something you appreciate related to your child’s teacher and their teaching, even it’s a seemingly small thing – the smiley face she drew on your child’s paper, the extra beautiful items she provided for your child’s art project, the really creative activity he did in class that helped your child better understand a complex concept, the thoughtfulness he demonstrated to communicate with you about an area in which your child is struggling – then take a moment to compliment them by sending them a text or leaving them a message (ask which is best for them) so that they’re aware of your gratitude. (2) And once per month, choose one of these weekly compliments and forward it along to one of their supervisors (i.e., principal or other administrator).

Jim-counseling1I know that we’re all busy but for this the time required is minimal and the benefit provided is much. So, will you accept the challenge?

May God’s blessings of insight and energy be upon all our school personnel in all their efforts with our children this school year.

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