How Educators Can Gain Credibility With Parents

teacher credibility

I’ll admit it.  I’m kind of a snob.

{At least when it comes to written communication.}

I’m by no means immune to typos, but I have very little tolerance for some of the most common and most irritating mistakes.  Especially when they come to me via email and/or notes sent home from school.

Even though I know teachers and school administrators are human and have their personal areas of excellence and weakness (just like the rest of us), I still have an expectation that the people charged with educating my child will send home grammatically correct and error-free correspondence.  And, fair or not, when they send out things with these ridiculous errors it really knocks their credibility in my eyes.

So, if you’re somehow involved in the education of children, take note of the following errors and do your best to avoid them.  It will really go a long way towards building rapport and credibility with the parents of the children you’re working with.

Don’t get so crazy with the apostrophes.

I’m no English teacher, but I’m fairly confident apostrophes are for making things possessive, while simply adding an “s” (without an apostrophe) makes things plural.  So, when you’re talking about a group of people or things, just add an “s.”  Lose the apostrophes.

Irritating examples:

  • Dear parent’s,…”
  • “On Monday’s we will go to the library.”
  • “The kid’s are settling in to the new year!”
  • “I’m excited to get to know all the mom’s and dad’s in the class.”
  • “Picture order forms were sent home, if you misplaced your’s you can get a new one.”

Think twice about whether you mean your or you’re.

I know it gets complicated, but the possessive “your” here does not contain an apostrophe (as in the previous item), and “you’re” actually means “you are.”

Irritating example:

  • “You’re child is doing great!”

Seriously, figure out their, there, and they’re.

I have nothing to say other than it drives me nuts.

Capitalize appropriately.

The first word in each sentence should be capitalized, as should the word “I” because I am not your BFF that you’re texting.  Also, please don’t randomly capitalize words that are NOT proper nouns and shouldn’t be capitalized, because it just looks ridiculous and it really throws off my flow while I’m reading.

Irritating examples:

  • “This monday is library day. please send library books to return.”
  • “I’m so excited to Meet all the Parents during conference week!”
  • “The kids and i have developed a nice routine.”

Use exclamation points sparingly.

I get it!  You want me to understand that school is exciting!!!  And that you love it, too!!!  You want to demonstrate your enthusiasm for your job and for my kid so that I, the parent, will realize they are in good hands!  And I want to appreciate your energy but I’m seriously worn out after reading your notes!  So please tone it down!!!

And finally, please use spell check.

To be completely transparent, these aren’t all examples from my son’s teacher this year.  I want to be clear about that because I don’t want to paint her in a bad light.  But they are real examples that I have taken note of over the past several years as I’ve read through daycare ads and websites, received preschool, elementary, and district-level correspondence, and received notes and emails from teachers.  And yes, I feel like these small errors seriously affect my perception of their professionalism and credibility.

And so I beg you, if you’re sending emails on a professional level to parents, please be mindful of these errors.  Even though they’re small and don’t necessarily reflect your true skills with the children, avoiding them will go a long way towards fostering a positive working relationship.

I’m a social worker, not an English teacher.  Am I wrong?  Am I too snobby?  Or are you with me?  What things drive you insane?

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5 thoughts on “How Educators Can Gain Credibility With Parents

  1. I wholeheartedly agree! And also, please learn the correct spelling of my child’s name. It’s Remy with a Y, not an I, or REMMIE, but Remy. An abbreviation of Remington, but with a Y, like it says on ALL of the paperwork. Poor kid is going to have a complex.

  2. While looking for childcare for my daughter before she was born, I was in contact with a perfectly nice woman who had no idea how to use proper grammar. She is probably and amazing mom and care provider, but it completely turned me off of her.

  3. Agreed. Of course my daughter goes to French school, so everything comes home in my second language so I’m in less of a power position to judge.
    But yes, the points you listed would drive me insane.

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