I’ve said it before (see Not A Good Message Via Comic Strip (Or Any Other Medium)), and I’ll say it again — teachers have got to stop reacting to all the recent teacher-bashing by, in turn, bashing parents.
A recent piece in The Huffington Post titled Dear Davis Guggenheim, Sec. Arne Duncan, et. al falls into that same trap, and I’m hearing it more and more.
Yes, many of our students have challenging family situations, and those challenges make it more difficult for our students to learn. And their test scores are hurt as a result. And, yes, then that gives many so-called school reformers a club they can use to bash us.
But if teachers want to be effective, instead of feeling “right,” we need to emphasize reaching out and connecting with parents, who are our natural allies. In fact, they are probably our most important ones.
Let’s work with him to attack many of the problems that contribute to the challenges many face — lack of affordable housing, community safety, health care.
Let’s not “cut off our nose to spite our face.”
As a preservice teacher, I understand the desire to have parents become more involved in the children’s education. As a mother of five sons, I sometimes want to scream at teachers who insist I do more than I am capable of. Sometimes, I think teachers forget that just getting children fed, dressed, and out of the door and onto the school bus with completed homework and lunch money or a sack lunch is exhausting!
This is particularly maddening with my children. They are all five wonderfully obedient and respectful sons, but they each have their own issues. The oldest is a great writer but struggles with math. The next has a brain tumor and several issues related to his treatment and secondary health issues. The last three have all been diagnosed with ADHD (two hyperactive/ one inattentive). I tell you this not to bemoan my situation, but rather to say this: I want teachers to remember that I am only with my children for three to four hours each day, and that a large portion of that time is spent taking care of domestic issues. When my children come home, their medications have worn off for the day. I don’t get the quiet, focused children that they have during the day. I would like to have a little quality time with my children before I send them off to bed. Please don’t send home work that you have not prepared them to do on their own. I want to enjoy their company, not dread the few hours I have with them each day.
Yes, I am more than happy to make them do their homework. Yes, I will gladly go over math facts and spelling words with them, but I am not always able to do so. What we try to teach our sons, and what I wish teachers would help me with, is that their schoolwork is exactly that: It’s THEIRS!! They need to own it, to take pride in it, to do it! I don’t mind helping, but I become frustrated when a teacher calls and tells me I need to do more. I think that most parents, not all, are doing the best they can. I think the same is true for teachers. Why don’t we give each other a break, quit playing the blame game, and work together with the understanding that we all have limitations?
I agree with @DiDi that teachers need to understand where parents are coming from. I am a mother of four children and like you said they each have their own challenges to deal with just getting through the entire day. When my children bring home “work” that they didn’t finish at school that has little no meaning for their learning I get extremely frustrated. Since my oldest was in kindergarten, no teacher has ever called to ask if I could volunteer to help monitor independent work and answer the many many questions that children ask.
I am also a preservice teacher and at this moment I am in my “Field III” block of my senior year before I begin my internship. I have enjoyed this time, but it has made me a little frustrated, because the teachers obviously need a second person in the room to help! All children operate on different levels we know, but they expect one person to assist every child in the classroom at all times on every level. I sit in this first grade classroom every day and think how nice it would be to even have a third person in the room just to help the children remember strategies to help increase their fluency. Teachers are supposed to do reading groups every day, but then the other children are left to do activities that are meaningful to their learning if they have enough self-regulation to stay focused on the tasks. Majority of them do not,but when I am there I can give that little pat on the back or paper that helps them refocus. I can help clear up misunderstandings in directions. What happens when my teacher doesn’t have that extra help? What happens to those children?
So I say as a parent, don’t call me to blame me, but call me and ask me to help if I can. At parent teacher conferences don’t just give me general oh he is doing pretty good and then send home a C. If you have parents in the classroom more often, they would also understand better where the teacher is coming from when they ask for certain things.
I hadn’t thought about asking a parent to volunteer to be in class just to monitor what is happening in the class as I teach – what a relief it would be to have another pair of eyes! I am so frustrated at my best not being enough to achieve the results I want with my students, to meet all those other needs…..