Too Cool for School: 5 Tips for Xer Parents and Teachers

It's happened; kids and teachers are back in school and summer's ended. Office Depot’s sale bins have expanded with binders, backpacks, and pencil cases. The newly purchased “first day of school, I have to have it” outfit is a stained mess in the corner of the bedroom.

As a former school-age educator, I remember the feeling of a new crop of students running into school the first weeks. I felt hope and determination fill the hallways as friends reconvened, syllabi got stuffed into lockers, and the first games of four-square were played. I knew that the energy of those first few weeks was crucial; it set the stage for the year’s impending student-teacher, and parent-teacher, relationships.

Those relationships have evolved over the generations. Just look at the most recent shift from helicopter parents to jet-fighter parents as an example. At this point, most Boomer parents have had their chance to attend PTO meetings, drag themselves to back-to-school nights, and cut the orange smiles for weekend soccer games. Millennial parents are warming up to do the same in the coming years. So, that leaves Gen Xers as the current majority of parents to school-age children, and many of those kids’ teachers belong to the Xer cohort. Gen X parents and teachers, I have suggestions to make the first week’s energy awesome for the year ahead.


#1 - Learn about teachers’ lives outside of the classroom.
Gen Xers, you love getting down to brass tacks, handling problems, and moving on. This is one of those times when the relationship outweighs the efficiency of problem-solving. Teachers spend their entire day in the child domain, so take the time to ask about their lives outside of the classroom. This is a year-long partnership—you might as well get to know the person standing in front of your child for eight hours a day.

#2 - Tone down the Xer skepticism.
Gen Xers default to questioning mode easily. While this skepticism comes with the best intentions, it can cause teachers to feel that their expertise is being challenged.


#3 - Be straight and direct with parents.
Teachers are trained to couch tough conversation in niceties. Gen X parents aren’t interested in sugar-coated conversation. Remove the sugar and get to the meat.

#4 - Gen Edgers are NOT Millennials.
Millennials, famous for making the trophy business soar with honorable mention ribbons, have moved out of the school world and into the working one. Gen Edgers don’t favor the sixth place ribbon; they competitively strive for the first. Parents and teachers: celebrate this generation’s desire for achieving and pushing towards the top.

Most importantly

#5 - Don’t forget that you were once a kid too.
Kids get in trouble, they explore, they tantrum, they prank, they fight. So did you. In our adult years, it’s easy to forget our bright-eyed, bushy-tailed selves.