Sunday, November 13, 2011

Schools, Parents, Mixed Messages and a Thank You

My younger sister and I talk on the phone a lot regarding school and parent issues. Since I don't have any children, I often ask for her (a mother to 4) perspective when I am not sure why a parent behaves a certain way. Since she is not a classroom teacher, she frequently will share teacher stories with me, and I will tell her why we teachers do and say certain things.
The other day I shared a brief story with her about how I quickly acquiesced to a parent's firm request regarding a late homework assignment. Since the matter was of little significance to me, but apparently quite significant to the parent, I let it go. As a result, my sister explained that I have taught this parent that when she doesn't agree with a teacher, she simply needs to write an angry, stern letter, and she can have her way....even if it may not be in the best interest of the child. This situation, of course, frustrates parents like my sister who try consistently to support teachers' decisions and procedures- even when they may not agree with them. Consequently, I realized during this conversation that we teachers don't thank you enough.
* Thank you to the parents who support the consequences we have put into place at school to manage poor behavior and to curtail irresponsible choices.
*Thank you to the parents who encourage outside reading and who emphasize the benefits of solid efforts in academic pursuits.
*Thank you to the parents who know that my job is not to give out A's.
*Thank you to the parents who recognize that a B is actually a good grade and that your child may not be excellent/outstanding in all subjects.
* Thank you for knowing that sometimes your child makes mistakes and for recognizing that my job is to call him/her on it.
*Thank you for being nice, for saying hello, for writing those emails with positive feedback, for helping with classroom activities when needed, and for speaking about us in a respectful way with your children.
I promise we DO notice you; we DO appreciate you; we DO smile when we see that you are next on the list of conference appointments, and we DO know that we need you to help us do the best job possible. Honestly, we may even tussle over who gets to have you as a classroom parent.
We are grateful and we don't say it nearly enough.
Thank you.
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Barb, sfo said...

(Former teacher, current parent)
I have made exactly ONE request of a teacher regarding a late assignment. That's when my older son (now 19) was in middle school. He had finished an assignment on time and was carrying it to and from school in his folder, never turning it in--for weeks. I finally found out about it and attached a note asking the teacher to please grade the assignment, but not to give him credit for it in her grade book. I wanted him to see what his work WOULD have earned if he'd bothered to follow through and turn it in on time. It was an A paper. Weeks late, he got a 0 - as he should have.
It did the trick.
I appreciate that his teacher went to the trouble of reading the assignment and letting him know what he would have gotten on that paper. That really made an impact.

Terra said...

I love what Barb did, brilliant!

Lisa said...

Awwwww... you're welcome, Laura.. (I'm kidding!) Seriously. We so appreciate our teachers who "go the extra mile" with our kids; who are understanding when necessary, tough when necessary; who make their subjects fun -- but also challenging and do their utmost to draw out everyone and give grades that reflect what the kids deserve. Not all teachers are created equal, either. And though we've never had the privilege of getting to have you for a teacher for any of our kids (you living 2,000 miles away from us and all...), there is no doubt that you are top-notch. Your students -- and their parents -- are blessed.

kkollwitz said...

"...I have taught this parent that when she doesn't agree with a teacher, she simply needs to write an angry, stern letter, and she can have her way."

I'd say it pays to pick your battles.