My Edu-Parent Perspective: Getting Through the First Week of School

In parenting by rafranzdavis3 Comments

As a connected parent educator, it is tough to remain edu-neutral when it comes to who teaches my kids especially when they are in schools where 0% of the teachers are connected. I have to make this distinction between “connected” and “not” because of the difference gained through deep conversations and access to ideas from a broader perspective.

Face it, we are different…we just are.

I made the choice two years ago to leave my home town where I started my career but I also made the tough choice to leave my son in this school. Actually, with my insane schedule…it wasn’t really much of a choice. I could not move him and with that realization, came an embedded set of positives and negatives that I will have to face on top of the typical, “parenting a teenage boy” issues.

On the positive side, my son has to grow up and make the right choices, which he has honestly struggled with. At 15 years old, he needs this room away from me during the school day. On the other side, I have zero trust that his teachers are there to support his growth. I take that back. His football coaches are for sure. Academically, this one hurts more than anything.

I have always been a teacher who taught my students as if they were my own children. It’s tough being on the other side of this when other teachers are not the same. In my mind, this should be a minimal requirement.

About those trust issues…

The other day, I talked to a teacher in my son’s school who needed to vent about the new mandates that the new superintendent has placed on school staff. I sat on the other end of the phone as this person said that he did not have time for “this foolishness”. In case you ‘re wondering…here is what this supt is asking…

  • Teachers meet with subject area teachers to discuss instructional goals, students…etc (PLC)
  • Teachers must call a certain number of parents a week (this is an increase over ZERO)
  • Teachers must integrate technology (Last year, my son used zero technology)
  • Teachers must write actual lesson plans and maybe reflect on them

Normally, I am against mandates but to me, these seemed pretty minimal. In my mind, what this superintendent is requiring are things that good teachers already do but in this case, it is rare. I am proud that my hometown has a leader who wants to address the issues but I am sad because when you attach the word “mandate” to anything, it automatically becomes negative…even when it is good.

You can’t mandate a relationship though. That takes effort.

A Few Small Parent/Auntie Wins

My son came home and told me that a varsity football player tried to jump him in Geometry. He also told me that his friends handled it by snitching to the coach and he is fine. I was then told to keep it to myself and NOT intervene. He said that all he kept thinking about was his goal to stay out of trouble and he was more afraid of that than anything. (To be clear…this should not be on our children’s radar of worry. For me, the win was that he confided in me.)

He didn’t say not to blog about it though…so there’s that.

My nephew came home from school excited because he has a project to do with a team of students for science. He didn’t bring home a worksheet. He had a series of questions about paper airplanes to research. YES!!!

It’s only day 3.

Comments

  1. hi again 🙂 and again, I learn so much from these brief posts, it’s incredible (esp the taking permission from son about blogging; it sounds obvious but I bet not everyone does it).

    But can I bring up the issue of mandate/superintendent again? Would there possibly be a bottom-up approach to doing what he wants to do? As you said, most good teachers already do some of what you mention (though, I guess, your son’s particular school might not).

    Looking at the list, I’d think the lesson plan one is the most important one, but it comes last on your list (or is that a coincidence?)

    The technology one – I have to be honest with myself (because I teach ed tech to school teachers, too), and question the following:
    a. What is the pedagogical value of adding (which) technology? Just mandating using “some” tech without clarifying the pedagogical value is just… silly?
    b. How well prepped is the school for every teacher to use some tech? What kind of on-campus facilities are there? What kind of infrastructure do the kids have at home? Do their parents let them use whatever tech is available at home? I’m in Egypt so depending on the social class of the kids, these questions can become paramount; for others, they’re non-issues as each kid has their laptop and wifi and 3G and smartphone
    c. How will teachers be trained to use the tech? And we all know that this is so much harder for some people than others, right?
    d. What other constraints on teachers’ time exist that might make them resist introducing new stuff like technology that to them seems like “Extra work” and will feel that way for some time until they get the hang of it…

    To be honest, also, the “call a certain number of parents a week” looks a bit silly. I like the idea of teachers connecting with parents, but mandating a number? Wouldn’t you be more interested in discussing “when it’s a good idea to talk to parents” or discussing the quality of parent-teacher relations, modeling good examples, etc., rather than mandate a “number”?

    Again, I think if someone opened the floor for teachers to say “how they’ve tried to build relations with parents” and different teachers said their strategies (those who don’t care would shut up but they’d maybe listen and hear something good) – and then maybe the superintendent would give a list of “recommendations”. So the “mandate” might be a “value” of maintaining parent-teacher communication/relations, and the “recommendations of how-to” might include a list for teachers to choose from, e.g. emailing parents weekly, calling parents when there is trouble, etc.

    What do you think?

    P.S. I agree that connected people are different… It is such a shame that not-connected people have no idea what’s happening this side of the unvierse

  2. Your reasons for keeping your son in the same school is a reality shared by many. Acknowledging a sense of identity apart from achievement is a critical piece of development, too. Nice post.

    1. Author

      Thank you Mary. It’s definitely been a difficult choice but keeping these lines of communication open with him have been critical and affirming.

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