Be kind to your children's teachers.
Be damn kind to your children's teachers. If you drop off your child in the classroom, say hello. Compliment the new decorations. There's a good chance he or she worked off the clock to make the room festive. Remind your children to listen to their teachers. To respect their teachers. And don't forget to respect them yourselves, because if your kids see you act disrespectfully -- even at home, even on the phone to your friends -- then they will, to.
Be understanding to your children's teachers. Don't be that parent who points out a typographical error in a newsletter. Understand that the newsletter was probably typed up at midnight on a schoolnight, with tired, bleary eyes desperately trying to blink away the exhaustion. Understand that, much like the decorations, she's doing this on her own time.
Be realistic in your expectations. Your children's teachers are doing all they can to make sure everyone gets a quality education. That those who need individual education plans will get individual education plans. That those who need a little extra help will get that extra help. But he is one teacher amongst upwards of 45 students. If your child is getting a D in a subject, don't yell at the teacher. Don't demand an explanation as to why your child isn't making the grade. Help your damn child. Study with him. Work alongside the teacher; see what you can do to complement the day's lessons. Don't have the time or energy to help turn that D into a B? Then don't expect your child's teacher to, either. You might've had a 45-hour work week; your child's teacher has a 45-student classroom (and probably a 60-hour week to boot).
Stop it with the snide remarks. Teaching is not babysitting. Teaching is not a part-time job. Don't like how kids are taught to take tests? Take it up with the school district. Take it up with your local, state, federal politicians. Support government officials who campaign against standardized testing and universal, cookie-cutter lesson goals. But, for the love of God, do not use that against your children's teachers, or any teacher. Odds are, they are just as frustrated as you, being forced to go down such a formulaic route that sucks all the joy out of learning.
By the way: "those who can, do; those who can't, teach"? Nah, kid. Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize.
Show your gratitude. Your teacher could be in any other job, with better pay, fewer hours, and considerably less stress. A job that doesn't force her to attend hours upon hours of workshops -- usually on the teacher's dime, and in their free time -- in order to keep their job. With the burnout rate as high as it is, it is small wonder if any teacher can stay at any school for longer than 5 years. But your children's teachers are there. Working tirelessly, usually with administration breathing down their backs, usually with parents who drop their kids off at 6:30 in the morning, pick them up at 5:30 that afternoon, and still make the joke that teaching is a part-time job. Show that you acknowledge and respect what they are doing.
Tell them this. Sometimes the only time a teacher hears anything from a parent, it's in the form of a complaint. Sometimes a formal complaint that will go on the teacher's record, sometimes over things as tiny as a typographical error or shoddy penmanship (you laugh, but I've seen it happen). Thank them. You don't have to buy them presents on Teacher Appreciation Day, but you damn should write them a Thank You note. Have your child help you write the Thank You note, if not write a note as well.
Be active with your children. Sometimes the best, kindest thing you can do for your children's teachers is the best thing you can do for your children themselves. Care about their field trips. Attend their Open Houses. Ask about their day and work with them if anything is the matter. For the love of God, get off your damn cell phone when entering the school.
Be kind to your teachers. If you go in with a low image of them and the education world at large, if you go in already expecting the teacher to mess up the education of your young child, if you go in with any type of improper attitude, you are doing a world of damage.
They are not miracle workers. They are not there to raise your children in place of you. They are not there to move mountains, even if they wish to. They are your partners in education. They will do whatever is in their power to provide instruction and guidance during school hours (and sometimes beyond). They will lay the foundations that only the nurturing from the child's guardians can build from. They will set the base that only life experiences outside of the classroom can continue from. They will butt heads with administration, advocate when no one else is advocating, and sacrifice more than any teacher should sacrifice in the name of their students.
So you better be damn kind to your children's teachers.