Dear Helicopter Parents: Please Stop

I want to be on your team. Will you let me?

Dear Helicopter Parents: Please Stop

Hi, I’m a teacher.

And you might be a parent. Meaning you care about your child a whole lot. And you want what’s best for them, and for them to feel good about themselves, and to enjoy school, and learn how read, and get a great score on the SAT, and be able to solve tough equations, and make friends.

Well I’ve got great news. So do I.

It’s why teachers devote the vast majority of their time in life surrounded by children, because we care about them. Believe me, we don’t get paid enough to do it for any other reason.

So please trust me when I say that teachers have your child’s best interest at heart. We do. We want your kid to achieve greatness. And if we start from that perspective, we can do amazing things for the life of your child.

But too often, I’ve experienced parents coming from a different perspective. One where the teacher is the enemy. Someone who has it out for your child and devotes all of their time to sabotaging them and giving them an 89 instead of a 90. One who gives your child detentions for not really doing anything, and singles them out in class, and loses their papers.

I’ll sit with a parent and student and say “Your son did this in class,”

And the parent will turn to them and say “Is this true?”

Yes, of course it’s true. I’m not making it up. Your kid being in trouble doesn’t bring me joy. Actually, it feels like failure for us teachers when a kid has a bad moment. But we also know that kids learn the most from the tougher moments in life, and sometimes that’s when they get in trouble. And it can be very hard for them to learn that lesson when their errors are swept away by the excuse that it was the teacher’s fault. It’s so difficult to earn a student’s respect when they know their parent doesn’t give it.

And it’s almost impossible to teach a student when you don’t have their respect.

Teachers, like everyone else, are far from perfect. Of course we make mistakes.

But what if instead of that email with bullet points listing why I am failing your child, you make a phone call saying, “Hi, my son or daughter said this happened in class, and I know there’s two sides to every story, and I just wanted to hear your end of it.”

Then we can have a conversation. And we can work to get on the same page to best help your child.

I know you love them more than any other person in the world, and you really do want what’s best for them. And that’s why you’ve got to trust us to be the professionals that we are.

So here’s what teachers everywhere ask of you: Partner with us. Be a part of our classrooms, share your talents with our kids, join your kids’ learning with us. We’re open to your concerns, but also your encouragement.

You are welcome here. Just not hovering over us.

Helicopters are kind of loud.

Trevor Muir

Posted by Trevor Muir

I am a teacher, writer, speaker, and storyteller from Grand Rapids, MI. I have a narrative podcast called Stories From School. My spoken-word poem, “Coming Alive at 14” was featured in the Huffington Post. I also gave a TED Talk about authentic education and project based learning at TEDxSanAntonio. I think learning should be memorable, exciting, and epic.

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