As I travel to schools as a consultant, I am always amazed at similarities between schools. The issues and concerns are pretty much the same no matter where I go. The only difference is the names of the towns, schools, and people. For example, as a teacher and later as an administrator, I often thought I was the only one who dealt with parents who did not have a clue as to the role of the school and their role as a parent. I often felt like every clueless parent in a one-hundred mile radius had boarded a helicopter with my school as the final destination. However, I have discovered more than likely helicopters filled with clueless parents are landing daily at every school across the country.
I am not pointing a finger at every parent. There were many wonderful parents when I was a teacher and school administrator, and there are many wonderful parents at the schools I now have the privilege to visit, but why can’t all parents be wonderful? All of us, teachers and parents alike, have the best interests of the children in mind, so why do some parents have to be so adversarial when they come to the school? Why do some parents “get it” while other parents enter the school house as clueless as a Betsy bug? After mulling over this dilemma at length, I came to the conclusion that some parents may not have been properly educated in regards to the finer points of school and parenting. So, I have made it my civic duty to give these parents some guidance for their role and the school’s role in the education of their children. Hopefully, the twelve tips I have provided will significantly increase the number of supportive, wonderful parents in schools across the country.
12 Tips about School Some Parents May Not Know:
- School starts on time and at the same time every day. It is impossible for the school to sync its bell schedule with every parent’s watch. It is the parent’s responsibility to sync their watch with the school bell schedule, so they can get their child to school on time.
- Teachers are human and have feelings too. PETT (People for the Ethical Treatment of Teachers), a teacher rights campaign designed to bring attention to and end verbal and physical abuse of teachers, states that abuse of any kind is not an acceptable occupational hazard of the teaching profession. Recent research conducted by the Heinemann Institute confirmed teachers are sensitive to harsh vocal tones, extremely loud name calling, cursing, threats and intimidation. The Institute’s findings support the earlier work of Dr. Gwendolyn Haystacker that confirms the humanity of teachers.
- Use your inside voice when talking to the school receptionist, principal, and teachers. It is also advisable that if you are within six inches of the school employee’s nose, that you use a breath mint as well.
- Schools hold your children in the hallways during severe weather for their safety not to punish them or to inconvenience you.
- Custody battles are hard enough on children without bringing the battle to school as well. When it comes to custody battles, the only side the school is on is the child’s.
- A child’s attitude toward school is usually a direct reflection of the parent’s attitude toward school.
- When you cover or lie for your child, you are teaching them more about how to conduct themselves in life than teachers will ever be able to teach them.
- Homework and outside projects are for the child, not for the parent. There is no justifiable reason for a parent to do the homework assignment, science fair project, or reading fair board for the child. Stop making excuses for your child not completing his/her homework or project even if it is too hard for you to do. It is their assignment, so teach them to take responsibility for it, especially when it is difficult. You are doing your child an injustice when you teach them to look for an excuse when things get tough. You are the most important role model in their lives, and what they learn from you at an early age, good or bad, will influence them for the rest of their lives.
- The teachers are not always right, but they are right often enough for you to show respect and listen to their side of the story before you jump the fence with fire in your eyes.
- Embrace new ways of teaching! Get use to the idea that school is no longer the school you attended ten to twenty years ago. Get use to the idea that the world and school is rapidly changing whether you like it or not. You can resist all you want, but we are not going back to the good ole days.
- Accept the fact, that although your child might never lie, children act on a need to know basis. They tell adults only what they deem they need to know, which does not include self-incriminating details.
- Remember this the next time you hear someone comment about teaching being a cushy job with loads of free time. The average person works 1920 hours in a 240 day work year or an average of 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day, and they also receive overtime pay for any hours over 40 in a week. The average teacher works 2,035 hours in a 185 day work year or an average of 55 hours per week or 11 hours per day, and they do not receive overtime pay for any hours over 40 in a week including the weekends they work.
This list is certainly not all inclusive, so if you can think of anything else that may help all parents “get it,” please feel free to share. Schools need supportive parents, so whatever we can do as educators to help parents be more wonderful, we should do our best to make it happen.
©Jack Linton, September 7, 2014