Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘parent accountability’

Help!: I Cannot Do This “Education Thing” By Myself!

 

Usually, I take this “education thing” in stride. I deal with the every day ins and outs, trying to avoid as much stress as possible. But the other day, grrrrrrrr….I was so frustrated! I can notdo this education thing by myself! I need this to be understood.READ MORE…

I’m Going to Disney World!: Vacationing During School!

Disneyworld

“Mrs.M, I’m going to Disney World!”

“Fantastic, have a wonderful time! When are you leaving?”

“The week before Spring Break,we are going for a week!”

My mouth opens, and closes, because I can not say what I want to say. One of my students reminded me years ago, “It’s not my fault.”, and he was right. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.READ MORE

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

Why Can’t We Hold Parents Accountable Any More?

I’ve noticed that whenever someone starts talking about  “the parents”, people want to shut them down. The immediate reaction is a harsh backlash, usually accusing the author of parent bashing.  “The parents” are off-limits. But, I’m going to go there.:)

I believe society started a trend from which there is no escape, and no turning back.  Parents were allowed to relinquish the reins of raising their children. They relinquished them,  handed them over to the schools, to the teachers. They stepped back, and said, “You take care of them!”  You make sure my child eats, you make sure my child can read, you make sure my child gets enough exercise, you make sure my child doesn’t bully anyone.”  The list is endless! How did this happen?

They are parents, and that is a job that should be taken seriously.  My mother raised 5 children, the key word being “raised”.  She took responsibility for us, she did not make excuses. She, (my Dad helped a little), made sure we were clean, completed our homework, ate dinner, played outside, she did this.  We were all reading before the first day of school. It seems to me that when you know that someone else is going to feed your child, clothe them, teach them, make sure their work is done, where is the incentive for you to do it?

I understand that parenting is difficult, but you can’t just stop once they enter school.  We need to hold parents responsible for providing the things their children need to be successful in school. If a child can come to school with the latest sneakers and/or latest video game console, why can’t they bring in a pencil, a notebook, the bare essentials for a classroom? If there is no Internet access at home, why can’t the parent take their child to the Public library, it’s free! Do you know how many parents look at me as if I have two heads when I suggest this?

We have to stop saying, “Oh, you know they’re not going to do it, so we (teachers) might as well.” That is not acceptable.

Do I mean let a child in your school go hungry, freeze, or not provide notebooks because their parent lost their job, or is on drugs, or any other catastrophe that can’t be controlled? No, I’m not talking about that parent.

I am talking about the ones who are perfectly capable of providing what their child needs, but refuse.  The parent who will not attend conferences because they are “tired”,  but will call you in a heartbeat to find out why their child didn’t go out for Recess today.  The parent who signs tests and notes, as they push their kid out of the car in the morning, and then call you to ask how their child is doing.  The parent who asks for extra work for their child, a day or two after the phone call informing them that their child is not doing any work in class or at home. The parent who won’t pick up a book to read to their child at home, yet complains to the teacher about the child’s inability to read. (A parent told a friend of mine, “That’s what you’re here for!”) The parent who takes their kid to Disney World while school is in session because it is cheaper, and then asks you to provide a week’s worth of work!

I have had many wonderful, supportive parents, who will do whatever they need to for their child, make the sacrifices that are required. But, I have also had the other ones. And I feel if they are going to hold us accountable, then our parents should be held accountable as well! Remember the triangle? Three legs,the child, the parents, and the school.  Unfortunately, every time a parent lets go, that triangle collapses! How can we get our parents to pick up that leg?

Parent Accountability: LETTER TO A PARENT #2

Dear Parent,

What possessed you to make the decision you made today? About a  week ago, I handed out test folders in the  morning to avoid  the chaos of handing the folders out at  3pm dismissal.  Everyone, including your daughter, was asked, if they were missing anything.  Everyone responded, including your daughter, that they had everything.  Three days later, when it was time to collect the folders, your daughter claimed that she did not receive a checklist  . She didn’t say it nicely either. Now she could have taken the initiative and asked you to sign the tests, but that’s not something I would really expect from your child.

Today, I reminded my students with missing folders, that during recess, they would call their parents, and give a friendly reminder to sign their checklist and return the folder.  Every child, but yours, accepted this responsibility. Your child became very snippy, told me she never got one, and how unfair it was. Oh well! This is how it works in our classroom.

However, while I was outside with the other students at recess, your daughter convinced the indoor teacher to let her call you. She called you, sobbing, (as you know, she can produce tears on demand),  telling you how unfair I am. She was heard to wail that I was not being fair at all!  And what did you do?  D id you tell her that you will deal with this at home?  Did you fuss at her for making a non-emergency phone call from school?  Did you ask to speak to the teacher? Did you tell her life is unfair,ask her to  hang up the phone, and deal with it like a responsible 5th grader? NO!  You came to the school and picked her up!!!!  

Two hours before the end of school! She missed a crucial math lesson.(Remember the conversation we had at conferences about her struggles with math, and I asked you to stop picking her up 20 minutes early just  so that you could avoid sitting  in the student  pick-up line?) When you came to pick her up, did you notice the smug, satisfied, look on her face?

But, don’t worry, she will be held accountable by me, even as you cater to her every whim.  She will learn that in our classroom there are rules to be followed, and consequences.  She will learn that Daddy and Mommy will not always be able to pick her up.  I will be glad to do this favor for you. You can thank me later.

Parents: Enabling Your Child Isn’t Helping Him

“They Did Not Choose Their Parents”

These words were spoken at the 2011 PLC Summit I attended in Arizona last week.  “They didn’t choose their genetic pool”. “They couldn’t say I want two college-educated parents who love me, care for me, and make education my priority.”  

 I realized after hearing this statement,  that many times, I get frustrated with my students  about things over which they have no control.  When they come to school without school supplies,  their parent doesn’t sign a form,or  misses a scheduled appointment, or has made the child stay home to babysit, again.  These are things that the student can not control, but yet, year after year, my frustration is placed on a  child, who is probably just as frustrated as I am!  How many times has the child walked in the day after parent-teacher conferences, and I’ve said, “Your mother scheduled an appointment and didn’t come”  The child stands there wide-eyed, not knowing how to reply. Maybe they know why, maybe they don’t,but  that’s not the issue.

We need to work around the parents who are not supportive, the ones who just don’t have the time.  We need to tell our children, “You do you.”  “You do what you need to do to succeed.”  Let’s not hold them accountable for the mistakes, or neglect, of their parents and guardians.  Let’s not make them bear the weight of their parents’ transgressions.  Why say to a child who is late every day, “You’re late again.” Knowing  the only way the child can get to school is if their parent drives them.

So, I’m taking a new outlook, and it began yesterday.  I have a student who is out every Monday.   I would fuss at him every Tuesday about the work he had to make up or didn’t understand.

 “Well”, I would say sternly, you need to be here on Mondays.”

 He was in school yesterday and instead of a  “Glad you could make it”, I smiled and said, “I am so glad that you are able to be here today.”  A smile lit up his face and he said, sincerely, “So, am I.” The next time he’s out, I will work with him and help him catch up. Am I a” bad” teacher? I don’t think so, but I’m certainly not the best I can be. I’m learning though, and I’m willing to take a good, hard, look in the mirror, and correct my mistakes.

Productive Parent Teacher Conferences!

Parent Teacher conferences. Twice a year,(or more), we sit down with our students’ parents and relay the good or bad news about their child.  A parent teacher conference can go two ways, productive or non-productive. I recall  many conferences, and  many types of parents. The wonderful, supportive, parent, the hostile parent, the parent that won’t leave no matter how many times you stand up, the ones who just nod, the appreciative parents, the ones who share every aspect of their lives, while the letters,  “TMI” run through your brain,and my favorite, the  parents who share how much they and their child love you.

 Year after year, I have tried to find a way to make my conferences productive. I have  attempted to find a way to share information, no matter the parent type.  I have always felt frustration, when after a parent leaves, and I think, “Oh, I forgot to tell her/him….”  Last year, I created a form based on  some of the questions from a worksheet that my  Phi Delta Kappa soror shared with me. Parent teacher conference form revised  The  first question is ” What are your concerns or comments?” This allows my parents to feel, as they should,that I care about what they think.  As we complete the form, using the questions to guide the conference and open discussion between myself and the parent. I feel that the form  answers questions parents have, but  forget, or don’t ask. After the form is completed, the parent signs it, thereby giving me a document supporting that I have kept the parent informed. When I used the form,  the conference moved along smoothly.  I keep the original, and send a signed copy home to the parent the next day. I also send filled out forms home  to parents who don’t attend,and  have them sign it.   This marking period, I am going to review the first form with the parent, and see how it compares to the current marking period. As a parent, I know conferences aren’t always easy, especially if the child is not doing well. Hopefully, my form makes it easier to focus on  the purpose of the conference, bringing together the parent and the teacher in a productive atmosphere.

Pardon the Interruption!

Due to the restrictions bought on me as a result of my robot teacher status, my Math lessons are taught at the end of the day.  In other words, I don’t have a choice, because my schedule is decided for me by administration. Teachers pretty much aren’t allowed to make any decisions nowadays, but I digress.

My Math lessons have become a constant stream of interruptions from parents who feel that 3:05 is too late for whatever urgent matter is at hand. I’m teaching, getting a point across, and then, “Mrs.M, could you send TS for dismissal?” One day, I had three students leave halfway through the lesson.  There is a correlation between being there for the lesson, and doing well, am I right?  Funny enough, these are the same students whose parents say their kids are struggling with math. 

And of course, the student doesn’t just get up and leave without interrupting or causing interruptions.  “Anything I have to take home?” Or the reminder I have to pass on before they exit.  Or the students who feel the need to watch this student pack up and leave, even if I begin teaching again!  I lose a number of my students as this one student whose parent didn’t feel like waiting on the car line leaves. I know there are times when students have no choice but to leave early, it happens.  However, I feel we need to go back to making education a priority.

I wrote a small reminder to my parents today about the importance of their child being in school until the end of the day, hopefully they will understand.

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