Contrary to popular belief, teachers rarely finish work at 3.30pm. After many hours on their feet in front of classes, most teachers stay in the school for several hours each day evaluating, tidying, planning and trying to stay on top of record-keeping.
And most continue to work at home in their evenings and during weekends. This means that a 60-hour week is quite normal, and the pressure from parents, school leaders and inspection agencies can make a busy job so stressful that even the long holidays are little compensation. One way in which churches and Christian parents can make a big difference is to develop positive, supportive and encouraging relationships with teachers and other school staff. It is easy, particularly when children reach secondary school age and start being taught by different people for different subjects, to think of teachers as anonymous agents of the state, or at least as faceless ‘service providers’, of whom we can make demands and from whom we expect to receive a neat finished product on exam results day. Remembering that they are human beings, made in the image of God, can
transform the way we interact with them.
Four ways to support your children’s teachers:
Teaching can be stressful. Praying as a family for teachers, school friends and other parents is powerful, and can also instil a sense of responsibility in your child for the life of the school. Visit www.prayforschools.org for ideas and resources.
2. Be positive and encouraging
Express respect for the valuable work the teachers do. Teachers often receive complaints from parents, so saying ‘thank you’ or sending a card or a gift can be simple ways to bless them in their work. Christians are the bearers of the Good News. You are much more likely to influence the school if you and your church are known as people offering positive help and ideas.
3. Be practical
Take opportunities to offer your skills. This could be with music, art, sport, going on school trips or simply listening to children reading. Or you or your friends may have a different cultural background or interesting experiences that you could share about. See our resources section for links to websites with more ideas of how you (or your church) can serve your local school.
4. Be a school governor
Join the Parent-Teacher Association at your children’s school — and show up to the meetings. Or become a governor. From shaping the ethos of the school to holding the headteacher to account, governors have a vital role to play. In Scotland, Parent Councils fulfil broadly the same role. To find out how to join a Parent Council visit www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone/gettinginvolved/parentcouncils
Christian parents should be the ones that teachers look forward to interacting with, not the ones they dread. Education is a partnership, and one that works best when the partners appreciate and respect each other.