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Meet the teacher

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Starting off the school year on the right foot is easy if you stay positive and share in your child's excitement about school. But, if you freak out, they'll freak out! This is my 11th year teaching 2nd grade and let me tell you, the first couple of weeks are crucial! Parents should make an effort to attend all back to school events, it's so important to show a happy face, school spirit, and teacher support.

Please, don't listen to stories about whether or not a teacher is good! There will always be that "favorite" teacher parents hope their child gets. Let your child make the teacher they get their favorite and you will love her too!

Make it a point to start off the new school year right by attending that first "meet the teacher night" and "parent information night". This is your chance to make a good first impression too. Teachers take note of the parents that are there. Be friendly, and make sure the teacher knows who you are.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, but make sure they're questions the teacher can address to everyone. "Meet the Teacher Night" is not the time to tell her your life story or what a bad experience your child had last year. Teachers don't mind questions, and being aware of what goes on in class will help you keep your child informed.

Smile! That first impression is memorable, just as it is when meeting anyone for the first time. Lengthy problems or concerns can wait for a private scheduled conference; your first meeting is informal. Teachers want a chance to get to know your children on their turf before conferencing. Children act differently in front of their parents than they do in the classroom.

Make sure to go home and say nice things about the class, teacher, and school. I've had children come up with stories that I know I wasn't supposed to hear! Surely you can find something good to say that will help your child feel positive about being in the classroom.

The kids are excited and ready to go back with new backpacks in tow. Parents are excited too but also apprehensive because they can't control everything: the friends your child makes in their new classroom, the teacher their child was assigned, school schedules...But, parents can control their attitudes and be optimistic for a great start to the new school year!

It is important to be an involved parent. Attending "Meet the Teacher Night" is a solid way to start. Here are some of the basics you can expect from "Meet the Teacher Night" and/or "Parent Information Night":

1. Homework, correction policies, and discipline procedures. There is a student handbook that includes dress codes, school rules, schedules, a calendar of events and much more. These are valuable organizing tools for students and a clear-cut way to keep everyone on the same page.

2. Important notes the teacher may write on the board, so be prepared with paper and pen.

3. Your child's new teacher will share with you her experience, specializations, and expectations for the year.

4. The best ways to communicate with the school and the classroom teacher are by phone, e-mail, a note from home or a personal visit. Be sure to leave your contact information as well and an open mind about keeping positive contact with the teacher.

5. Volunteer opportunities (my favorite)! Teachers want you to be involved! If it is at all possible, take advantage of in-class assignments. It's an effective, nonthreatening way for you to see how your child is managing school and interacting with her peers and the teacher. Plus, teachers REALLY appreciate it!

6. Whatever your questions or concerns, you have every right to have them addressed. Don't be shy, but be respectful. Parents who are positive, informed, and engaged in school have children who are as well.

7. Volunteering is different for every family. It may mean signing up to work in the classroom, buying classroom supplies, grading papers for the teacher or helping with special assignments.

8. To find your special niche, look for sign-up sheets in the teacher's room at "Meet the Teacher Night" You could also contact a member of the PTA and mention your interests. They will find a way for you to help out at the school, the community and your child's education.

9. Enjoy "Meet the Teacher Night"! Get to know other parents, teachers and administrators. Come with a BIG SMILE on your face!

Every parent wants their child to have a great school year. While some things can't be controlled, there are many things that parents can do to ensure a stress-free, happy school year. Your positive and optimistic attitude is a step in the right direction.

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