The purpose of this blog is to know and understand the teacher's perspective concerning current issues on education reform and the teaching profession. Inputs from the ones who probably knows what is best for students academically -- the teachers -- are rarely considered in decision making of policies. Yet, these so-called education experts and lawmakers dictate how we do our jobs and what we should teach. That's not right!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Where is the Village? Part 2 -- Parents

Nearly a week and a half ago, I came across this blog article entitled 9 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew. The general consensus among teachers, according to this article, are as follows:
  1. Don't be a stranger! (Parents, get to know your child's teachers; it is prudent to do so early in the school year)
  2. Learning doesn't stop at 3:15. (Parents, once your child leaves the school house, you have to assist him/her with their learning process)
  3. Stay involved -- even if you don't know the material (Seek help elsewhere or from the teacher)
  4. Keep your child organized. (This can be achieved via modeling)
  5. Let your child makes mistakes  "HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!" This is my favorite tip; can't you tell? (Seriously, mistakes are the best teachable moments and learning ever! You are doing a disservice to yourself and your child by enabling him/her. This will catch up with you as your child become an adult)
  6. Raise a good reader (Again, this can be achieved via modeling)
  7. If a teacher deserves a good grade, give him/her one (Parental support is awesome and greatly appreciated by teachers)
  8. The teacher is on your side -- give him/her the benefit of the doubt (For we are all in this together; work with us, not against us)
  9. There is a secret to better grades (There is no I in TEAM and SUCCESS; let's work together)
If there are two groups of people who love to play the blame game more are the parents and the teachers. Teachers mainly complain about the lack of parental involvement, lack of student discipline from the parents, or the disregard parents have for teachers as their child's authority figures. Parents mainly complain about the alleged professional incompetence of the teacher, the lack of special treatment for their child, and the application of school/class rules toward their child. Honestly I entertained the teacher rhetoric when I was in the classroom.  Nevertheless, I was grateful when parents were willing to work with me. To a teacher, it makes a world of a difference. We should be partners, not adversaries...especially in the presence of children; it speaks volumes to a child and instill in the child respect for authority.

However, I would be remiss if I don't say this: Over my ten years of teaching, I have met my fair share of parents. For the most part, I have had a pretty good and respectable relationship with my students' parents. Yet, there are handful whose company I can live without. And that's OK; there are instances in which parents and teacher will disagree. It is how the disagreement is handled and resolved, if possible, that matter most. I am not one to give parental advice; for I have no children of my own. However, I have worked with children long enough to recognize good parenting. If I am fortunate to make contact with the parent, as a teacher, I become highly discouraged when I hear a parent tell me such things like these:
  • My child is a good child. He/she will never do that...
  • My child said you did ________ and I want to know why...
  • My child didn't do that; you're lying...
  • I know my child. You don't know what you're talking about...
  • You do what you have to do because I am through...
  • I don't know what else to do...
  • What do you think I should do?
  • Don't tell me what to do with my child...
Now, I cannot and will not speak for every teacher; I can only speak from my own teaching experiences. I believe an effective teacher should keep the lines of communication open with parents regularly, while handling the misbehaving or academic problems with the child firsthand. As a teacher, I strive to resolve any issue with the student first before informing the parent and, when necessary, the administrator. But we can't do this alone. Parents, we need you to support us by doing your part and being impartial. If you need to hear the two sides of the story, then fine; but don't entertain the notion the teacher is always out to get your child (see Tip #8 above for reiteration)

In addition, parents, please understand this: Unless it is legally mandated, we teachers will not give your child special treatment. We are there to help every child assigned to us. That's our job as teacher. The class rules posted by the teacher and the school rules established by the district apply to every student, not some. These rules will be enforced as such. Ideally, this should be done consistently. In reality, that may not always be the case. Nevertheless, as a teacher, I strive to be fair, firm, and consistent with every child in my class. Have I made mistakes? Sure, I am human like you. When I do, however, I will acknowledge them and do what I must to make it right. I show this same courtesy to students and parents alike; so why can they reciprocate that to me, the teacher?

Regardless of the societal ills in the world, the outside family issues, or the current economic climate, the parents are the tone-setters and the first teachers.  Nowadays, parents don't have the outside support their parents had growing up. It doesn't excuse any parent to always seek the best interest of his/her child. Parents, we teachers are your partners, not your role player. Yet, this is one of the many hats we teachers have to wear because there are folks who are not properly doing their job as good and responsible parents. Remember this: on average, a school day is only 7-9 hours. There are 24 hours in a day. What happen during the other 15-17 hours with your child should not have any bearing on the teacher, unless the teacher is also the child's parent. We teachers can only do so much. Please refer to Tips #2, 3, & 6.

Also, today's parents are not as firm with their children as their parents was growing up. Some days during my planning period, I used to sit in the main office and spectate. It is astonishing how the parents behave; surely, I can easily tell that "the apple didn't fall far from the tree". I partially blame the judicial system for this; while the children laws are intended to protect children from any form of abuse, to a certain degree, they inadvertently strip parents of their rights on how they are to rear their children. Also, I partially blame socioeconomic factors as well. I understand many children come from single-parent homes, and single parents have to work long hours to survive and provide for their children. While it is easier said than done, there must be a balance present. Then there is the other extreme when children comes from affluent, two-parents households and they are given anything and everything they want but perhaps don't need. How is the child suppose to learn responsibility and work ethic when he/she is given whatever by the parents? Parent, you will not always be around. Let them fall and earn their keep; see  Tip # 5. Adversity built character and good character is essential for future success. I remember growing up, my friends and I used to say this all the time: When I have kids, I don't want them to go through what I went through growing up. I will give them whatever they want; our parents were not bad or abusive to us. The last high school graduation class I taught was this year; under ideal situations, if the average graduate was 18 years old, then he/she was born in 1992. I graduated from high school in 1991. Therefore, I have been teaching the kids of my peers! Oh, Lord, what in the world were we thinking?

Finally, parents, we teachers are taxpayers too. When some of you have the audacity to throw tantrums and threaten to have us fired because you "pay our salaries", that is beyond demeaning and arrogant. All school stakeholders has a vested interest in the success of our public schools because we all invest in them. Please respect us as the professionals that we are. While we teachers are obligated  by law to serve you and your children, we are not your doormats.

Kudos to the parents who are doing what they can under the circumstances to provide for their children and concertedly work with their children's teachers. For the parents who are seeking role players, stop it, play your role, and follow suit.

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