Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘Parent’

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

Fabulous Phone Call!A Positive Message!

While attending the 2011 PLC summit, one of the presenters told us about an experience he  had while watching Family Feud. The question was, “What is the reason your child’s teacher is calling your house?” Not one of the “right” answers were positive, not one! An example of some of the answers were, “Your kid is failing” or “Your kid skipped school”. It reinforced the stereotype of parent/teacher communication; we’re the bearers of bad news. About a year ago, we had an idea forced on us by our principal, and it’s an idea I actually grew to like. We were forced, every Friday, to call a parent or two, and let them know something fabulous about their child. It’s called a Fabulous Phone Call. It’s not time-consuming, and there’s no out-of pocket expense. It’s exactly what it says, a phone call to a parent, telling them how wonderful their child has been. I try to choose a child who is always fabulous, they deserve praise too, and a child who was struggling to be fabulous. It’s not all about academics either. Maybe the student showed improvement in behavior, grasped a concept, or helped a friend. There are so many benefits to the Fabulous Phone call, the most important being that it provides teachers a chance to create positive communication with our parents. I usually begin my phone calls like this, “Hello, this is Mrs.M; your child is not in trouble.” I try to get that in before, “What did he/she do?”  Afterwards, we have an enjoyable conversation about their child, and it usually ends with many, many, thanks from the parent. I keep the phone call positive at all times. Monday Morning, I place a “Fabulous Phone Call” coupon on the child’s desk, which says, “Congratulations, you have received a fabulous phone call!” I also ask whether they were notified about the phone call. Who knew a simple phone call could bring such joy?Pick a day, any day, and make a Fabulous phone call to one of your students’ parents, and destroy those negative stereotypes!

Power of Positivity: The Friday 5 – A principal documents the power of a positive phone call!

fabulous phone call coupon

“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.

Top 10 Things a Parent Can “Give” a Teacher for Christmas!

10.  A notebook, pencil, and paper for your child. If they have a Wii, I’m sure you can spare some change for these items.

9.   Dress your young  ladies, like young ladies. I don’t need to see your child’s cleavage or half of her butt.

8.    Make sure your child is on time for school. You are setting up bad habits for life when they are consistently late.

7.    Make sure your child is in school every day!  A 1 week  family vacation during the school year is not recommended for a failing student.

6.     Discipline your child.  If they do something wrong, there should be consequences.

5.     Be the parent!  You are not your child’s best friend! And no, you do not have to be the “cool” Mom or Dad.

4.     Have your child READ at home.  I do not have a magic wand, if they don’t read beyond the classroom, how will they become better readers?

3.     RESPECT the teacher.  If you call me a ” “b$#%&” at home, how do you think your child will treat me?

2.    Stop blaming the teacher!  Sometimes events are beyond the control of the teacher, but can be controlled by you and /or your child. 

1.    Make your child’s education a priority! Trust me, it will all pay off in the end.

Youtube version – Enjoy my video version! 🙂

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.

“Thin Line”

The other day a fifth grade student came in with a green bracelet with the words “I Love Boobies” on his wrist. The teacher asked him to remove it, he asked her why. She explained that it was inappropriate for the class and made him remove it.  The next day, he came in with it on again, she told him to remove it. He said, “My mother called the principal and he said I could wear it.” He wore it the entire day making sure he showed off his arm as often as he could.  When the teacher went to complain to the principal, he told her that because it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it was a thin line that he would cross by asking the child not to wear it. Needless to say, the teacher was very,very upset. This parent, and the principal, not only undermined the teacher’s authority, but also gave this child, who is already insufferable, carte blanche to go to mommy and go over his teacher’s head! Wow! A thin line?  His bracelet didn’t mention Breast Cancer Awareness, it said “boobies.” He was showing it off to the boys in his class. And the parent? Her time will come when she can no longer deal with the monster she has created! They want to tie our pay to the students, when we’re not allowed to make decisions in our own classrooms? Please!

It’s Parent/Teacher Conference Week!

This week is conference week. So far, so good. I made life a little easier for myself by creating a form that answers questions parents should ask at conferences. I really enjoyed using it because it covered questions , I, nor my parents, remember to ask when we meet. Usually, after the parent leaves, the missed thoughts pop into my head. Of course, I’m seeing the parents whose children are doing well. I’m  glad they still come out, which in turn, is probably why their children do well.  I sent notices home, put reminders on the web page, and followed up with phone calls.  I had two parents just not show up, no phone call, email, nothing. But, one did come, and explained to me how her son comes home, and gets right to work on his homework.  He even wants to give up football practice in order to complete his homework. As I sat across  the table from this mom, I couldn’t help but smile at her pride in her son and the work he has done. Teaching is hard, especially when we get so caught up in what’s wrong, we forget to revel in what’s right!

Come to Me!

When I was a kid,  if there was a problem, my parents went to the teacher. Well, there was never a problem with me, I was a “goody-goody.”  As a teacher during the 80’s and 90’s, the parent would voice their concerns, to me. However, there seems to be a trend now where the parents skip the teacher, and go straight to the principal, or God forbid, the DISTRICT! Yesterday, I received an email from my principal,” Ms H, Jane’s mother (names have been changed to protect the guilty) called and would like you to call her and explain the grading system. ” Huh?  This parent is new to our district, so she might not be familiar with our grading system, that’s not a problem for me, that’s understandable. My problem is that she and I have sent emails back and forth where I have answered any questions she has had, why at this point did she feel she had to call my principal? And no, she never asked me about the grading system. Now understand, I send my students’ tests home with a checklist with the grading system on it. She signed the checklist, if she had a question, why didn’t she write it on the comments line?  Why didn’t she email me or call me?  Thankfully, I have a very supportive principal, because this seems to be a growing  trend.  One year I had a parent write a letter to President Obama(I’m not kidding) because her ill-mannered child couldn’t get used to the fact that there were consequences in my classroom. I believe it goes back to the whole idea of respect for the teacher  has gone out the window.  It’s as if, the teachers are not that important, which is strange, since we spend the better part of the day with their child. I feel as if it undermines my authority when a parent skips me and goes straight to the principal.  Why wouldn’t you tell me that Sam is bothering Trisha in the classroom? Why would you call my principal to tell him your child was upset because she couldn’t get on the SMARTboard today?  If  a parent  comes to me, and is not satisfied with the results, I say go for it. But it would be nice, if they came to me first. 

At our meeting today, my principal said, ” They skip you and come straight to me.”

Tag Cloud