Teachers explain what they really need from students this fall

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 31, 2016

 Students arrive for the first day of school last year at Martell.

Students arrive for the first day of school last year at Martell.

File photo by Donna Agusti


METRO DETROIT — Hey there, parents. How’s that back-to-school shopping going? Got all those shiny new sneakers and fresh pairs of jeans ready to roll?

Well, unfortunately, you’ve only nailed down one of many steps to getting your kids classroom ready — and it’s not even the most important item on the to-do list.

Ask teachers what they really need parents to do before the bell rings each fall and you’ll be surprised at what they suggest.

Like Nazik Najar, a teacher with Bloomfield Hills Schools. After parents do all that school shopping for clothes and supplies, she said, it’s strange to see many students empty-handed on their first day back.

“Make sure school supplies are brought in on the first day of school, because we start teaching almost immediately.” 

If children don’t bring what they need, “it’s disruptive to the class and embarrassing to your child if he or she is not prepared,” Najar said.

That’s not the only first-day obstacle kiddos can face. Does your child walk to and from school, or do you have a ride arranged? Is he or she taking the bus, or going straight to sports practice or tutoring? If children don’t know the plan, they might try to get it figured out when they should be learning.

“It’s disruptive when kids need to use the phone or text to see where they’re going, and it’s anxiety-provoking for kids,” she added.

And by the way, what’s your school’s policy on cellphones? That’s something to think about before you send your student off to class with smartphone in hand. It can be a handy tool, but it can also be a major distraction — even when they’re not using them.

“Many of my students have confessed to sleeping with their phones under their pillows or close by, which disrupts their sleep and causes poor performance on tasks for school,” said Michelle Clancy, an 11th- and 12th-grade medical English teacher in Chippewa Valley Schools.

“I’d suggest a family charging station (at home) where all phones are located at night and not a temptation for children and young adults,” Clancy added.

Parents may also want to double-check their back-to-school goodies with the school’s policies, too. Najar said you’ll want to make sure those new duds aren’t in violation of the dress code and that lunchtime snacks fit in with any allergy restrictions.

And if your student is issued a locker, it’s a good idea to run through using the new padlock a few times so he or she feels confident using it. There’s enough stress on the first day back — you don’t want to add a tardy to the list if your child can’t get in there to get a book.

All of these might seem like little things to worry about, but Najar reminds parents that they want to help their kids’ transition back as smoothly as possible, so all they have to worry about is being a student.

“This is all about the children being ready to learn and setting them up to soar this year,” she said.