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6 Ways to Help Your Kid Be a Teacher's Favorite

This is a guest post by Vanessa Van Petten from OnTeensToday.com. Vanessa wrote a parenting book when she was 17, called "You're Grounded!" and is now on a national speaking tour, reaching out to both parents and teenagers about how to cope and thrive as young people today. She is also working as a popular young parenting coach in California. Her daily blog, OnTeensToday.com is read by hundreds of teens and parents daily. She was featured on CBS 4 Miami and Fox 5 New York and has been in the Wall Street Journal, the Santa Monica Daily Press, Atlanta Insite Magazine and the World Journal. She has been an expert on Playboy Radio, KBUR, WCOJ Philadelphia and more for giving a young perspective on awesome parenting.

I was not typically a teacher's pet...although I will not deny that I always wanted to be. I talk a lot to teens and middle school and elementary school kids about how to put your best foot forward with teachers - they actually love getting these tips. I think that parents should actually talk more about this with their kids. Just as much as parents want their kids to be liked in the classroom, kids also want to be praised and have a strong relationship with their teachers.

1) Get One on One Time Just Because
I think it is really important for kids to always take one on one time with teachers if they are struggling or having a problem with the material. But, I actually make every single one of my clients schedule meetings with all of their teachers at the beginning of the year to introduce themselves and get to know the teacher a little bit. Teachers are so crucial in our kid's lives and I think it is good for kids to take note of this by scheduling a 5-minute meeting.

2) Respect Them When They Are Not Looking
I was going to have one of these tips be to respect them in general, but I think that one is obvious...and applies to all human beings not just teachers! I love to point out to students that you never know when a teacher is listening. And respecting them ‘behind their back' is just as important as respecting them to their face. If friends are complaining or you get a bad grade you do not like, calling them a name is never appropriate and teachers can pick up on the hostility.

3) Encourage Friends
When I talk to students I usually have them try to envision themselves walking in on the first day of school as the teacher and then trying to get 30 friends to like you, listen to you and learn something. They always are shocked at this idea and say things like, "oh ya, I guess it's really scary!" They can help teachers feel more comfortable and (like them more) by encouraging others to be quiet, listen or respect him or her more.

4) Ask Questions
Teachers usually love when students ask questions because it shows them that students are engaged and that they are trying. You would think this one is common sense, but you would be surprised at how many of my kids disagree with me on this point, saying things like,
"I am afraid she will think it is a dumb question."
"He might think I was not listening."
"But won't they be annoyed I am interrupting them??"

5) Ask the Right Questions
I always say the above student concerns are not true as long as your questions are:
-Not interrupting
-On Topic
-If they are something already said, just say, "I am sorry I think I missed something would you remind repeating? If not, I can come to you after class."

6) Try
Your student does not have to be the best in class to be liked by a teacher. I think most teachers just want to see that their students are really trying to do well. If you do your best, don't worry about the rest.
Sit down with your kids and show them this post, ask them if they agree or if they would make any suggestions. Most important is to get the conversation started and get them thinking about how to make their school lives better for them and their teachers.
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#1 Michael Johnson 2008-09-27 16:11
Great points Vanessa and spot on, as usual.

You should give a shout-out to the support staff as well. Secretaries, custodians, kitchen staff, and the all-important technology/comp uter support staff. That's me. ;-)

All your points apply to support staff though item #1 is rare. So I offer this suggestion for interacting with support staff.

Know and use their name. "Mr. Johnson" is appreciated. But "dude" or "guy" or "hey you" is not. "Sir" or "Mister" or "Ma'am" or "Miss" will suffice when you don't know their name. Be respectful and the response you get will be better.

A student will never know when they need a favor. Getting an item out of a locked classroom. Some special attention on an attendance issue. A problem with the funds in the lunch account. Or some extra attention on a computer issue. Being polite and friendly will help immensely.

But I guess that rule applies generally to life.

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