The Best Teachers: What Do Parents Need to Know?

The Best Teachers: What Do Parents Need to Know?

Education September 09, 2015 / By Joanne Foster, EdD
The Best Teachers: What Do Parents Need to Know?

This twelve-point checklist about teachers' work provides a framework to help parents support them in nurturing children’s abilities.

Is your child’s classroom a place where creativity abounds, and students are motivated? Are individual learning needs taken into account?  Is intelligence-building a priority? Is the educational environment safe and welcoming?

Parents who understand something about teachers’ professional responsibilities are well positioned to be effective collaborators and advocates for children’s learning.

Heads up—this article is NOT about making judgment calls about teachers’ levels of competence. It IS about understanding and appreciating their work. Informed parents are better able to forge meaningful collaborations and partnerships with educators, leading toward positive outcomes for children and teens. With that in mind, what do the best teachers aspire toward in order to provide optimal learning environments? Here are twelve points to consider:

1.     Professional Development – The best teachers are confident, and challenge themselves to become more effective by acquiring a wide range of tools, skills, resources, and supports. They engage in learning opportunities, attend conferences, network, and find other ways to enhance their professional growth.

2.     Acknowledging Individuals – No two learners are alike. The best teachers find out about the individual, and show that they care. What does your child’s teacher know about your child’s self-confidence? Resilience? Social networks? Areas of strength and weakness in different subject areas?

3.     Mastery – The best teachers recognize the skill sets that each student has already mastered, and builds instruction from there. This includes paying thoughtful attention to what fits a particular child in a particular situation, setting appropriate expectations, and providing the kind of help that is most beneficial.

4.     Motivation – Motivation is the engine of progress. The best teachers are motivated themselves, and ask the question, “How can I inspire students so they become more excited about and invested in learning?”

5.     Virtues – The best teachers demonstrate integrity, kindness, honesty, fairness compassion, patience, and other virtues because they matter—and because children learn from what they see, hear, and experience.

6.     Working Together – The best teachers find ways to improve upon their connectivity with parents, colleagues, and students so as to create rich, stimulating learning environments.

7.     Creativity – Creativity knows no bounds. The best teachers are imaginative, stimulate curiosity and inquiry, and are willing to try new approaches. They encourage creativity and playful exploration in the classroom—and beyond.

8.     Growth Mindset – The best teachers model and teach children about a growth mindset including positive habits of mind, a sense of industry, goal-setting, and how to cope when things get tough.

9.     Preparation – This is a core foundation of good teaching. The best teachers seek to better prepare, manage, and enhance day-to-day classroom experiences for students. Preparation time is not a perk. It is a necessity.

10.  Differentiation – The best teachers reflect upon and implement strategies to differentiate programming, instruction, assessment, and other aspects of teaching in order to address individual learning needs and ensure that there’s a proper educational match for each student.

11.  Senses – Aside from the regular five senses… The best teachers have a sense of humor, a sense of balance so as to juggle work demands with personal ones (including time for family, recreation, and rest), and common sense so they can handle the many ups and downs of daily life at school.

12.  Co-creating the Learning – The best teachers ensure that children participate in co-creating their learning, encouraging them to reflect on their experiences, and to be actively engaged in developing their own intelligences.

Teachers’ work is not easy, and they cannot do it alone. When parents and teachers appreciate one another, work together, and strive toward empowering children to be the best they can be, then everyone benefits. 


For additional information on this and related topics, see Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination by Joanne Foster (Great Potential Press, 2015), and Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster (House of Anansi, 2014). For resources and articles visit

See also:

How to Build a Strong Parent-Teacher Relationship by Andrea Nair 

Invaluable Allies: Partnering with Parents for Student Success by Margery B. Ginsberg   

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Ed. by Carol Ann Tomlinson (ASCD, 2014) 

The Immeasurable and Enduring Role of Teachers and Parent Involvement: A Two-Way Partnership with Schools  both by Marilyn Price-Mitchell

Parent Involvement: The Missing Key to Student Achievement by James Norwood at 

T is for Tips for Working with Teachers by Joanne Foster from Parenting for High Potential (2014), posted under “ABCs of Being Smart - Letter T” on the resources page at

What Students Remember Most about Teachers: Advice from a Veteran Teacher by Lori Gard 

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Enter a back-to-school challenge and win 4 copies of Beyond Intelligence for your child's school HERE

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