Monday, April 15, 2013

What This Parent Wishes to tell Teachers

Circle of Moms had a feature article by Amanda Morin entitled What Teachers Wish They Could Tell Parents. I find this ironic since it seems like I'm always hearing from teachers what they want from parents, and often in this type of "lecture" set-up with little opportunity for teachers to hear back from parents.

Whether or not you want it, here is one parent's response:

1. Morin wrote, "Dealing with parents is sometimes more difficult than working with students." My reply: "Dealing with teachers can be more difficult than dealing with my own child." I do not have the benefit of having been in the classroom when you assigned the homework or project. Even with your emails or online grade book (which not every teacher uses), I still wasn't in the classroom with my child and sometimes even when I try to help, I either can't because I don't remember the formula, or what I'm trying to explain is different than what you explained. And, sometimes, it is difficult to deal with my own children. Maybe your family life is perfect, but ours isn't, and the mother-daughter dynamics definitely can interfere with us having smooth communication all the time. And often, it's at its worst when we're working against a project/homework deadline.

2. Morin wrote, "The 'I wish I had a job that gave me June, July, and August off' comment gets old, fast." My reply, "While I realize teachers don't have summers off, I am not necessarily "off" every night, either." I get a little tired of the sanctimonious "I'm so busy" attitude that I hear from a lot of teachers, like they're the only ones with a demanding job. I work full-time, go to school part-time, volunteer my time for three different non-profit organizations, commute 3 hours a day, and am a full-time single mom. I'm not asking for your sympathy, but I don't necessarily have any to give to you, either.

Even more importantly than that, I am not always available to play the role of teacher's assistant while my daughters are doing homework. I don't always have the money in my budget to buy project supplies. I would like a more active role in deciding what my family does during non-school hours.

3. Morin wrote,  "Parents do not understand that their child isn't the only one in the classroom at one time." My reply, "Teachers do not understand that I have more than one child, and many other responsibilities, too." Actually, I am aware that there is more than my child in the class because I'm not totally stupid, but thanks for your condescension. At the same time, it's my job as my child's parent to be their advocate for that very reason. In this situation, you're the professional, and you're the one expected to act like one. I get to take this personally, because it is personal to my child.  I'm the mama bear and when necessary, I will act like one.

4. Morin wrote, "So much emphasis is placed on testing that we forget why we are really there." My reply, "We feel the same way." Look, we can get caught up in it too, at times, but much of that comes from the same place as you. We're trying to understand the impact on our own children and their futures. I feel like the only ones winning in this battle are the select few multi-billion dollar companies that make the tests. Wouldn't it be amazing if parents and teachers all came together and did something to change it?

5. Morin wrote, "The truth is we are overworked, underpaid, [and] frequently disrespected." My reply, "The truth is we are overworked, underpaid, [and] frequently disrespected." Yes, we feel exactly the same way. Do you actually think that our children respect and appreciate all that we parents do for them? Do you not realize that most of us are also living paycheck-to-paycheck? That we're going to school or working multiple jobs? And the majority of the time, all we hear from schools and teachers are all the things we're doing wrong as parents, and being ordered to stand in lines and wait patiently, help our children with homework we had no say in assigning, and fundraise, fundraise, fundraise.

And here's what I would like for all parents and teachers to realize.

If parents and teachers worked together as partners in education, we might actually be able to make a difference. 

We all chose this. We chose to become parents or teachers, and it's not all sunshine and lollipops for any of us. But the more we bicker at each other, the more our students/children lose.

Yes, there are bad parents. Yes, there are bad teachers. But I still have to believe that a lot more of us are trying to be the best parents and best teachers that we can. Instead of blaming each other, we have to start working together.

We have the same common goals. We have similar obstacles. If we played on the same side, we might actually make a positive difference for everyone. And I truly believe that quality education is the best tool there is for changing the world for the better.


Anonymous said...

Amen girl.

Tammy Kuiper said...

Thank you! Yes!

Anonymous said...

Agreed! The current state of the economy leaves most America families overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated.

I have many, many teacher friends whom I support, but I don't know any of them that would say that they don't enjoy having the summers off. The single ones travel most of the time NOT spend most of it in the classroom. The ones with kids spend most of it with their family which is nice.

There should be more benefits for time off with having a baby, but besides that, the benefits are pretty good. All of the teacher's I know in many different states have amazing health insurance. I work for a fortune 100 company, yet I pay over $10,000 a year out of pocket and when I have a baby? Well I pay $5,000 to the hospital when my teacher friends pay $100-$150 and that's it. Maybe my salary is larger than some teachers, but not by much and when you take out how much I pay for things like health insurance, I bet my salary would be the same or less... probably less if you look at hours worked.

Good for you for putting this out there because the preaching is getting old. If we want to work together than telling parents their a bunch of assholes all of the time isn't the way to do it. And like you said, I know you have a lot more kids than just mine, but if I'm not his advocate, who will be?

brainfade said...

What an interesting read! And very relevant to my experience of the educaton system over here in England too! Whilst I have sympathy for the workload of my children's teachers, I also take issue with some of their practises. My son brought home maths homework last school year that they had not been taught how to do in class. I was told it was a challenge for him to see if he could teach it to himself and that homework was NOT for consolidating what they had been taught already?! So essentially I was doing the teacher's job at home teaching him all about fractions - something I haven't done for at least 25 years. I am also fed up of the constant emphasis on SATS tests at the expense of the wider curriculum. I feel like the education system wants to deny children their childhood and push them into stressful tests at too young an age. Nobody gains from it - the creativity of the teacher is stifled, the child is unnecessarily stressed and parents are pressurised into helping their child revise before they have even left primary school. It is a huge step backwards to the days of rote learning. I am also frustrated byt he emphasis my children's primary schools put on 100% attendance - my daughter had 4 days off in the first term of Year R (she was aged 4) and I was sent a letter from the Head quoting stats about the correlation between high attendance and exam achievement! She was FOUR! They get all kinds of viruses and illnesses when they start school! There is such a lack of common sense - of course, most of the things that annoy me are due to directives from above, from the Government and the Inspectors that then get passed on to the school. they are not something the teachers have decided upon themselves. However someone needs to be bold and take a stand and decide things have got to change for the sake of the kids!