In 1944, Isidor Isaac Rabi, an American nuclear physicist, won the Noble Peace Prize for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance used today in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). When asked who most influenced his life, Isidor said,
My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: So? Did you learn anything today? But not my mother. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist.
With a simple daily question, Isidor’s mother unknowingly inspired her son to engage in the classroom setting with his teachers. Imagine the teacher's delight when Isidor asked well-thought-out questions during class.
As a school administrator, I observed similar constructive practices of parents and teachers that profited students’ long-term academic advancement and spiritual growth. At the top of the list ranks the intentional collaboration of parents and teachers. This partnership forms the best possible foundation for a child's educational journey. A critical component in the parent-teacher alliance is honor.
When we consider honor, most of us immediately think of respectful behavior, such as good manners. Although respect is a part of honor, honor goes much deeper into the heart of a relationship. The Greek word 'honor' in the New Testament comes from timae, which means worth or value. Bonds grow stronger when we value each other with our words and deeds.
How can parents purposefully honor teachers?
I encourage parents to highly esteem teachers publicly and privately, especially in front of their children. Teaching is a calling deserving of the highest honor and praise. Should you question this statement, step into a classroom, and teach for a day. Periodically consider sending a heartfelt email or card expressing gratitude and appreciation to your child's teachers. Stating something specific a teacher did to encourage your child adds a dimension of sincerity to the message. Authentic honor and gratitude energize and motivate teachers to go the extra mile for your child. Let your child know how much you appreciate teachers, and together, pray for them.
What should you do when teachers share hard-to-hear information about your child's academic progress or peer conflicts?
Lean in. Listen carefully. Ask questions.
Don't forget; you are a team. Be assured teachers love their students and are committed to their growth and development. Teachers are eyewitnesses to your child's learning style and peer interactions at school. They have valuable perspectives of your child. Seek teachers' viewpoints, provide insight when needed, and together develop a strategy to address concerns.
If a concern surfaces, contact teachers directly to seek their perspective. The quickest way to bring resolution to a situation includes gathering insight from all involved. Take time to prepare before meeting with teachers. Parents, you have great insight into the uniqueness of your children, including their long-term academic and social interests. When meeting with your child’s teachers, share the 'inside' story of your child’s nature and needs. For example, if you recognize your child’s character gift of serving or a sharpened interest in a subject area like math, let teachers know. If your child struggles at home with a subject, let teachers know. When your family goes through a difficult time, let teachers know. This 'inside' information helps teachers genuinely appreciate your child's needs and abilities more quickly. Children flourish when they believe they are loved and understood by their primary influencers, both parents and teachers.
How does honor enhance a parent-teacher relationship?
Honor authenticates the worth of another in tangible ways. Honor fortifies relationships, and motivates those who receive it. Ultimately when parents and teachers are in an honoring alliance, every child wins.