Monday, May 26, 2014

Parental Support and Involvement: Should Teachers Make Do Without It?

More and more, the buck seems to start and end with teachers.

We seem to be the only ones held "accountable" for all that goes on in our classrooms, and it is frustrating!

It's become the norm to send a child to school and hope for the best.

I have done what I need to do as a teacher to get parental support, and then some.

If I post videos and sites you can use to supplement what your child is learning in school, why aren't they using it?

If I send email reminders, and newsletters, with information about what is going on in class, why is it you still don't know?

If I ask you to read one of your child's posts on their blogs the entire school year, why is it you haven't read a single one?

Why is the test checklist signed every week, but their grades are a surprise at conferences?

If  I send an email, could you  take a second and say you received it? Or even respond to it if a response is required?

Why can trip slips come back in a day, but important notices take repeated phone calls?

Why have I never met you during the course of the school year?

These are just a few of the issues that continue to frustrate me, year after year.

All parents do not work two-three  jobs, are homeless, suffer from poverty, are on drugs, or alcoholics. This seems to be the consensus of why parental support is lacking. Others believe parental involvement is not necessary or useful.

Parenting requires hard work, effort, and sacrifice. It is not an easy job, and hats off to all who do it. If you are not willing to put in the hard work, make an effort, and sacrifice for your children when it comes to their education, teachers will work without you, but we can't always pull it off.

I don't want parents held "accountable", just as I don't want teachers to suffer from "accountability."

What I do want is a parent who realizes they need to join us in providing an education for their child. School is not a day care center. You can't drop them off, pick them up, and that's it. I know supportive, involved, parents exist, because I have worked with many of them!

If a teacher provides ways for you to support, and be involved, in your child's education, take advantage of it. If they don't, find out why. If you don't know what to do, get help! But be involved, your child is worth it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Does It Always Have to be the "Good" Ones? Giving All Students a Chance!

I was talking to a high school teacher about the mentor program that was established between the 5th graders and the high school football team.

The response was, "Which football players?"

When I said I wasn't sure, the response was, "I hope it's not the ones I'm thinking about!. really hope it wasn't those kids!"

I paused, and said, "Well whichever ones they are, they have done an excellent job with our boys!".

Why do we automatically put down our kids? Why are we so quick to label? Why do we want to put our kids into a box?

Don't they deserve as much of a chance to fail and/or succeed as anyone else? 

Shouldn't we give them a chance to prove their worth?

Isn't it possible that when we place them in a certain environment, an environment where we thought they couldn't, they prove us wrong, and show us they could?

I am guilty of this as well. When there's a chore outside the realm of the Job Cards, there are certain names which are always at the tip of my tongue. I have to consciously stop myself, and think of another child I can call on. 

Everyone deserves a chance to prove that they aren't what we think they are. Some will succeed, some will fail.

Our kids loved having lunch with their mentors every week, enjoyed talking to them,  the field trip to their football game,playing with them at recess, and got a special thrill out playing with them in the End of the Year Flag football game. Whoever these young men were, they were a positive influence on our students.

I loved watching them interact with our "babies." Watching their eyes light up when they came for lunch, and greeted their mentee. The pride they felt in being a mentor.

I don't know which football players were chosen, but our kids loved them. 

It doesn't always have to be the "good" ones.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"I Salute Those Who Stay!" Appreciating Tenacious Teachers!

This is not to take away anything from those who quit.

You have quit for only reasons you know, or have shared with thousands of viewers on Youtube, in articles, or on talk shows.

I attended the 74th annual Eastern Regional Conference of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. this weekend. The keynote speaker told  a story about a young man who was a fantastic, motivated, teacher.
One day the young man approached him and said, "I can't take it anymore. I just can't take it anymore. And he quit.

He said that between the disinterested students, the nonsupportive parents, testing, administration, he was done. Another good one was lost.

The speaker was upset that he quit, but he could also understand his decision.

Then he shouted, "We talk a lot about those who quit, but today, I want to salute those of you who stay!'

Thunderous applause!!!!!!

We stay. We stay, even though we are bowing under a lot of the same pressures this teacher faced. We stay. We refuse to give up, even though some days are harder than others.

We worry, who will be left to teach our children? If we leave, will our children be left with teachers who see teaching as a job, a paycheck? Will they be stuck with teachers who don't share our passion?

One thought that was repeated this weekend is that teaching is a ministry. You have chosen to do this, or it has chosen you. Regardless, most of us want to do it well. Most of us are in it for the kids.

The speaker talked about how he is torn when young people come to him and want to join the profession that could quite possibly suck the life out of you.. It reminded me of Pernille Ripp's article about her daughter who wants to teach.  His first thought is to tell them to run, but on the other hand, he knows what kind of teachers we need in the schools.

I salute all who not only stay, but stay and do their job well amidst all the chaos called teaching. Those of you who continue to challenge, encourage, engage, inspire, support, love,  praise, push, prod, and most of all, teach our children. Those of you who realize that if we all quit, who would be left to teach our children?

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I salute those of you who stay!!!!