Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I Really Want to Tell Parents and Teachers

I have read two articles recently that have both stirred some strong feelings in me as a parent and as an educator. The first was an article titled “What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents” by Ron Clark. In this article Clark goes on to list a handful of things teachers should be telling parents or at least wish they could. Some of the things on this list offended me as a parent and yet some I found myself nodding my head with as a teacher. The second article was titled “What Parents Really Want to Tell Teacher: What You Do Hurts Our Children” by Laurie A. Couture. Her article is in direct response to the Clark article and goes through a list of things parents want to tell teachers. She lists ten items that outline how teachers are failing kids and essentially blames teachers for a long list of offenses towards children. As a teacher, I was sick to my stomach reading many of her claims about teachers.

Both of these articles are more destructive than positive. They make broad generalizations with little actual substance. Guess what? There are horrible parents out there. For some kids, the best part of their day is being with loving and supporting teachers at schools. There are also parents out there that due to working conditions are simply not home when kids are home. It is the teachers at school that Couture claims are “hurting” our children that are there to pick up the pieces and help a kid learn and grow as a person and a student. Regardless of what systems are in place, it is still individuals that make the difference.  

Yet, there are great parents out there…lots of them. They support teachers and help in any way they can. Many of them are members of PTOs and volunteer as schools. When their kids get home from school, they are there to help them with homework and be loving and caring parents.

On the other side of things, yes there are bad teachers out there. Some are mean to kids and some are “hurting” kids. I am not now nor will I ever defend these teachers. They should be removed from classrooms immediately. However, to assume that due to a few bad apples we have to condemn a profession is ridiculous. There are also bad mechanics out there but I still take my car to get fixed by one. In addition, there are bad barbers out there, but I am not swearing of haircuts and growing out my hair. I work with amazing human beings that choose to dedicate their lives to helping kids learn and grow on a daily basis. This is something that should never be condemned no matter what systems might be in place.

There are also amazing teachers out there. I should know because I teach with many of them every single day. The give selflessly of themselves to ensure every kid is loved, nurtured and inspired in the short time they are together. I see them working tirelessly to help kids regardless of what the parental support is at home. They do this even within the system that many claim is broken and not working.

For every bad parent out there, there are millions of good ones. For every bad teacher out there, there are millions of good ones. In my classroom I teach my students that we don’t make judgments or assumptions about people. Both Clark and Couture make judgments about groups of people possibly based on their prior experiences. I choose to treat people as individuals and teach my students the same. One of my students got picked on by an 8th grade student. Did I tell him that all 8th grade students are bad and should be avoided? Nope, because that would have been wrong.

What I want to tell teachers is that not all parents are bad. Parents are a key part to the success and failure of a child. I want to tell parents that not all teachers are bad either. Teachers are a key part to the success and failure of your child. We can’t judge groups of people because we are individuals and should be treated as such. 
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