“I wouldn’t want to be your kid’s teacher.”….pause…. “I mean that as a compliment.” That’s what I heard from an administrator friend when I was telling him about talking to my daughter’s principal about the damaging effects of Accelerated Reader.
I’ve known him for a long time, and I know where he’s coming from. I also know it’s not my kids he would mind, it would be their mother. 🙂
Teacher parents can be the most supportive, most demanding, and sometimes most unreasonable, and they walk a fine line between being parent and teacher. I try really hard to keep those two parts of my life balanced. My kids attend school in a different district, so when I need to go to bat for them or speak out about something I perceive as wrong, I can do that without worrying about my work environment. However, at the same time, I have to ask myself, “Am I holding my kids’ teachers/schools to the same standard I hold myself or am I expecting more than I am willing to do for kids in my classroom?”
The most important thing to me, as a parent, is that teachers get to know my kids and build relationships with them. As a teacher, I do that. In fact, it’s one of my top priorities. If I don’t know my students, how can I reach them?
I expect my kids’ teachers to be prepared and to teach thoughtful lessons. As a teacher, I do that, too. Okay, reality is we’re all human and have those fly by the seat of your pants moments, but they should be few and far between.
I expect my kids’ teachers to stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in education. I do that. Not only have I continued my own formal education, I subscribe to educational journals and read books about education research regularly.
I expect my kids’ teachers to communicate with me when my kids are doing well and when they struggle. I do that. I have had success with some students only because I built a relationship with their parents.
I expect my kids’ teachers to listen, even when I’m questioning an assignment or a program within the classroom or school. Hmm, this one gets a little harder. 🙂 I do that, but I have to admit I don’t always have the purest thoughts when I’m listening. However, it is parent questions that often push me to question things that are ‘the way we’ve always done it’.
I expect my kids’ teachers to question and discuss grade level/building/district-wide programs and procedures. I expect them to be at the table when curriculum and instructional materials are being considered. I want them to base those decisions on what we know is best for kids not what is easy or comfortable. I have these kinds of conversations with teachers as well as building and district level administrators all the time. It is a constant striving to do what is best, never being satisfied with how things are, always looking to make it better, reach more kids, make a bigger difference.
I do have a few rules that I follow. I don’t call when I’m angry. I write emails, save them, and then ask others to read before I send them. I always point out the things I see as positives before I offer criticism. I’m sure I can be intimidating. I don’t usually approach anything educational without research to back me up. I don’t think my daughter’s principal was fully prepared for our conversation when he called me about my AR concerns. I do know that when we were done talking, I hadn’t changed his mind, but I had given him a different perspective to think about. I’ll give him time to digest the information, and then I’ll send him a couple more research articles.
I want what is best for my kids, the ones I’m raising and the ones I’m teaching. I think that parents who are involved, who question, who are present in the schools make a difference. Can they (substitute ‘I’) be a pain in the butt? Yep, most definitely. But the goal should always be to do what is best for kids, even if it means changing long-held ideas.
So, to my administrator friend who has been “sheepishly checking” my blog, “waiting for the smack down”, here it is. Thanks for thinking of me as one of ‘those’ parents. It means you know that if my kid was in your class, I would hold you to the same standards I hold myself, and that both you and my kid would end the year different than you started it.