Parents and Teachers

September 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Life, Things I think | Leave a comment

It’s back-to-school time again. As a teacher, one of the things that can make or break (perhaps not break, but impair?) a classroom are the parents.  At best, parents work with the teacher as partners.  Good parents can help take field trips or large-scale class projects from possibility to reality.  On an individual basis, a parent works with the teacher to ensure that their child is getting the best education possible.  A high school teacher routinely has over 100-150 students depending on the subject taught, and can only provide each student with so much individual attention, so a good parent will step in and provide extra help when needed. This could be anything from helping the student be more organized, giving them extra help at home if possible, etc., but most importantly, just being involved in the child’s life.  Not every parent has the capability to furnish tutors, or spend hours working on projects, but I believe that parents owe it to their children to at least be aware of their progress in school.

Cooperative parents make a teacher's job even more enjoyable!

Award-winning educator Ron Clark says it best in this article on cnn.com.  Everything he says here resounds with me, especially the part about disagreeing with a student’s grades. (This was a bit of a sore spot with me, having worked for an administration that routinely encouraged teachers just to pass their students.)  What parents need to keep in mind is that by and large, teachers really do have their students’ best interests at heart.  We’re not witches who take joy in using up boxes upon boxes of red ink pens.  Imagine how motivated your child will be if he begins to think, ‘It doesn’t matter what I do, my parents will get it changed.’

American teachers are overworked and underpaid.  We can spend so much more time planning interesting and engaging activities if parents are involved at home.  As a teacher, I try to make a point to make a positive phone call or email in the beginning weeks of school to establish a good rapport with parents.  But I also love it when parents take the initiative to contact me to ask me how their son or daughter is doing.

This is my plea to parents: Please be informed of what’s going on with your child: what classes he’s taking, what activities he’s involved in, what his grades are.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you suspect your child is having trouble.  I will be happy to work with you to find solutions.  Please do not do your child’s homework for them; homework is usually given for a reason, and I need them to have that practice.  Please do not make excuses for your child’s behavior, especially in front of them.  Please be willing to listen to what I have to say and know that I have the best intentions.  If I tell you that your child misbehaved, it is not because I dislike them or enjoy punishing.  It’s likely because your child’s behavior is affecting the rest of the class and that needs to change.  If you are dissatisfied with your child’s grades, please come to me before going to the administration.  I am happy to show you samples of your student’s work and to go over exactly how that grade was determined.

This is starting to sound as though parents are all horrible; this is simply not the case.  But there are far too many parents who view teachers as enemies instead of allies. I hope that in a few years when my daughter is in school, I can keep these things in mind.  As a parent, it’s natural to want to stand up for your child. But to assume that they can do no wrong and that teachers are out to get them is really not doing anyone any favors.

What’s your take, as a parent, teacher, or student?

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