What Teachers Wish They Could Tell Parents

[deleted account] ( 17 moms have responded )

Read this on CNN recently. Thought it would make a good discussion.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/06/living/tea...

I can understand all of her points. I try to be on the same team with my son's teacher at all times, and thus far (we are in 2nd grade) I have had not found this difficult at all.

J is not a perfect child, but I work diligently with him at home on his behavior as well as his academics so that when he is at school, the teacher can focus on NEW academic studies. I do not feel it is the teacher's job to teach my child how to behave in a classroom. That is my job, and by not doing it myself, I rob her and the other classmates of valuable class time which should be spent learning, not repeatedly telling Joe to get back into his seat, or to stop talking to his neighbor.

I also feel that the job of "nailing down a concept" falls to the parents. A teacher's job is to introduce a new idea. ONCE. It should then be the parents' jobs to reinforce that idea and make sure their children have a full understanding of it. My son's teacher recently had to spend an ENTIRE TWO WEEKS on simple 4 digit subtraction because her students were not discussing them at home with their parents to gain a full understanding. They have the info--she sends home a weekly syllabus which corresponds to the yearly syllabus so that parents know what we are studying and when, regardless of whether she sends actual homework home for every subject. She tries not to assign more than 3 subjects per day so that children still have time for play and other activities, but she finds that unless the subject matter is covered in actual homework assignments, parents are not reviewing the subjects and concepts their children are learning, and sometimes even those they are struggling with.

We also have Compass at our school. It is an online program where teachers record grades and notes. Parents can then log in with their child's individual username/passwords, and see exactly what they are doing, how they are doing--what they are struggling with, what they are succeeding with, and spot problems long before they get to a point where she has to contact them, but they don't use it. We have 20 kids in our class, nearly 1/2 have never logged into the Compass Program.

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Jodi - posted on 04/19/2013

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Actually, Mapuana, you can learn ALL of those thing by studying past mistakes, which includes the heartbreak, loss of life and cruelty in the wars. As a teacher, teaching modern history to Year 10 students, I can honestly tell you that the compassion and integrity I saw in our class discussions surrounding the issues of World War II were amazing. Studying history isn't about JUST studying the facts about the battles, but is also about evoking empathy and critical thinking about the key issues involved. Wars have been a big part of the history of humankind, and frequently result in changes in society, rights and freedoms that need to be understood by our young people. Any system that is NOT teaching all of these things to our young people is not a school system worth having.

Only by understanding our mistakes can we ever hope to avoid them in the future. Should we not teach our youth the horror of the Holocaust? The ongoing consequences of the atomic bomb? The harsh treatment of prisoners of war? The implications of greed and power? IMO, these are important in any child's education. To dismiss wars as a topic that can't teach various virtues is to not truly know about how to teach it.

Elizabeth - posted on 03/11/2013

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I also want to say I have found myself guilty of the parent/ teacher issue. My 19 month old daughter can specify and differentiate many things, however she cannot always tell me about her body parts (pointing to eyes, nose, ears, etc.) my reaction to this when her doctor told me she should be able to do this was "Well I work all day and that's what I pay the daycare/ preschool to do." I could not believe I found myself saying that. I immediately caught my words and I was like... okay maybe when I taught preschool I did all of these things but it was up to the parents to reinforce it. I take my daughter to a $140 a week daycare where most of the teachers don't speak English, how can I expect them to teach her these things? Maybe she knows them in Spanish. I work with her in Spanish and English but teaching her is very hard, she gets frustrated and hits or bites me or sometimes just spaces out and runs away from me. No she does not have a learning disability, she very smart, she just has a hard time sitting and being taught. So how can I expect these women to teach her on a daily basis? I don't know. But I will admit that after working as a preschool and Montessori teacher myself and having seen teachers who go above and beyond with children I am a little critical and do expect a little much from these ladies. This conversation string and the pediatricians comments, however, really made me realize "Hey I need to be working with my daughter even more than I do now." ... and I really do work with her as much as I can for the two hours she is awake after I get off work and pick her up from daycare.

Denikka - posted on 03/08/2013

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My kids aren't in school yet, but my grandparents (who I lived with) were always supportive of me in school.
I was a good kid. I just about never got in trouble. I did have a few occasions where I had run ins with teachers where we disagreed about grades or something to that effect and just about every time, I dealt with the issue myself.
But, there were a couple of occasions, my grandparents, specifically my grandpa, had to step in.
In elementary school, there was an incident with a friend of mine. The sub-teacher accused her of having attitude and sent her out of the room. There was honestly no attitude (the entire class agreed with me) and so I stood up for my friend. This friend had 2 older brothers who had also had issues with this teacher (justified or not, I don't know, but the level it escalated to with them was inappropriate at best) and so it truly seemed that this teacher had it in for her (constant picking on really tiny details, refusal to acknowledge or answer questions about work, etc) I also got in trouble for standing up for my friend (which I did respectfully, no tone, no attitude). So my grandpa stepped in (as did my friends mother). There was a list of complaints on this woman a mile long (so it wasn't just us).

There were a couple of incidents in high school also. The one that really sticks out to me was my 9th grade drama class. Day 1, yes, I had goofed off a bit, gotten off on the wrong foot a bit with the teacher (nothing major, just talking during a time when I shouldn't have been). Day 3, during an activity, the teacher made a call that was wrong (that my partner and I weren't doing the activity, when in actuality we had been). He sent us out into the hall and said he would come talk to us in a few minutes. Had he actually come out in a few minutes, nothing would have been done. As it was, we waited 40 minutes (had been sent out 10 minutes into class and the class was only about 75 minutes long). We eventually got fed up, so I went and used a pay phone to call my grandparents to let them know what was going on. We were gone 5 minutes and went straight back to where we were supposed to be. We ended up waiting until the end of class and then the teacher came out, threw our bags in our direction and proceeded to yell (literally) at us about, basically, what bad kids we were, how disruptive, how disrespectful, etc. At that point, I was honestly scared of this teacher (he was also the wrestling coach, very muscular, standing over us (we were sitting down, as instructed) and berating us) and so, when I went home and told my grandparents exactly what happened, my grandpa went in the next day and had me removed from the class and that teacher was spoken to by both my grandfather and by the principal.

In both instances, both teachers swore up and down that *I* was the problem, that *I* was the trouble maker, etc. Had I not had my grandparents support, I firmly believe I would have continued to be targeted by these teachers. As it was, the sub never taught in any class that I or my friend was in again (she sub'd for all grades, k-12) and the drama teacher ended up teaching my gym class the next year and, after he took me aside and apologized (first day of gym, completely on his own), we got along extremely well and he helped me a lot in that class.

The only time I have gotten my grandparents involved in a dispute about my grades were 2 incidents in my grade 10 year.
Once in Social Studies. The teacher had an obvious bias for girls who showed their cleavage. I compared my work and test scores with a friend in the same class (she was very pretty and tended to wear flattering clothes, while I was heavier and wore baggy t-shirts). There is no way that she would have better grades than me, but she was almost at an A (her worksheet and test scores were at a C level and she never participated in class discussion) while I was almost failing the course (yet every test and worksheet was at a high B or A level and I made sure to answer/input at least once, if not more, during class discussions). Unfortunately, my grades were not changed and I passed by the skin of my teeth, but the teacher was fired at the end of that year for inappropriate behaviour towards the female students and that partially came about because I had called attention to it.
The other incident was in my Science class. We had a substitute for about 2 weeks during the first part of the semester. A couple weeks after the teacher came back, she did a grade update (let us know where we were, if anything was missing, etc) and I was informed that I was missing a large portion (about 2 weeks worth) or my work. I had handed it in and gotten it back (marked), so I brought it up to her to show that I had done it, it just hadn't been recorded or something. She refused to accept the work or the grades, accusing me of cheating/marking it myself...because the marks/grades weren't in her writing. It was done during the time the sub was there. I explained that fact and she absolutely refused to listen. 6 weeks into the class with 2 weeks of work missing (including a rather large project) and I was failing quite badly because of the incident, through no fault of my own. My grandpa got me switched into a different Science class (after the deadline allowed for switching classes)


Sometimes parental intervention is completely necessary and I greatly dislike when people say that kids should handle all their own school problems (something that I have heard from people in my own life). In my situations, I felt like I was unable to handle those instances appropriately or in a way that would actually help the problem.
I will do the same with my children. If they feel they are being treated unfairly, I encourage them to come to me. After discussing it with them, I will determine if my interference is necessary or not.

I do agree that there are many parents in the schools who go in and just butt in. Who *force* the teachers hands when it comes to grades or other petty things. Those are things that are best left to the children. If they feel the grade is unfair, the student can take the case to the teacher. I expect the teacher to listen, but not necessarily change the grade.

I think that as long as the teacher is open to listening, open to discussion with the children and the parents, and as long as the parents keep an open conversation with the teachers, and are willing to step in and defend their children, but have the ability to step back, let their child take the lead and only step in when the problem is outside their child's ability to handle (such as a teacher bullying the student, etc), teachers and parents can have a pretty decent relationship.
It's just knowing where the line is. And far too many parents think, as previous posters have stated (and I think is an awesome analogy), that the sun shines out their kids ass (and I think that applies to many aspects outside the school also).

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Mapuana - posted on 04/18/2013

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Wars??? Oh my goodness!! Of all the things we should teach our children, wars should never be on the top of that list. Peace, Christlike Love, Work Ethics, Service (how to help others in need), Integrity, Honesty and other valuable virtues that this world already lacks in buckets.

Mapuana - posted on 04/18/2013

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If you feel the teacher is wrong in her curriculum, then perhaps you should get a degree and a teacher's license and be a teacher yourself if you aren't already a teacher. To criticize a teacher's curriculum is not a good thing. You can get a district exception and have your child transferred or better yet, have your child placed into another teacher's classroom. In any case, you will probably not get the results you are looking for unless you do it yourself. It's easier to tell a teacher what should be taught instead of helping the teacher to teach your own child. Why don't you show your child how the information can be obtained instead of throwing that on the teacher's shoulder? After all, the ultimate teacher of a child, is the parent!!! It frustrates me when parents are demanding and yet, will send their children to school without their completed assignments and sometimes even sick. They use schools as child care systems and not a place of learning.

Valerie - posted on 03/11/2013

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I think my job as a parent would be much more difficult if my daughter's teacher cut me down in front of her. So why would any parent cut a teacher down in front of their child? Unless their conduct is truly inappropriate (ie, abusive), I see no reason not to collaborate. In my experience, when a teacher reaches out to me about issues with my kid, if I respond in a collaborative and attentive way, it always turns into an opportunity for both of us to gain insight into how to best interact with the little one. And seriously, if you cop an attitude and make yourself completely detestable to your child's teacher, do you really think it will make their day-to-day easier or more pleasant?

[deleted account]

I understand that not all parents have access to internet for the compass system, but there is a letter sent home at the beginning of the year explaining how the system works. Attached is a note parents can sign requesting physical printouts from the Compass site. It is completely confidential--no one but the teacher EVER sees it (we do collect numbers to though so that we can utilize that technology if it is widely available). The parent could also call the school, email the teacher, or let her know in person if they need printouts. Teachers simply print the screenshot of the overview page when they enter grades and send it home with the student. This year, we had 2 of our 1160 students request printouts. Last year, we had 4. For OUR school, lack of internet access is not the reason these parents are not logging in.

Perhaps my son goes to a very good school--I will openly admit I have been very pleased with his experiences there--I do not feel that the basics are being overlooked or forgotten. My son is in 2nd grade. He has learned to print, and is now learning cursive (handwriting) as well as typing. I will admit that I sometimes feel his teacher spends too much time on certain concepts that *i* do not feel are important.

For example, they are currently learning about all 50 states (we're in the US). They spend one day on each state learning the capital, population, location, and a few interesting facts about the state. I don't feel like they need to waste 2 months learning all these little details that most of them will forget as soon as the chapter is finished. Instead, I think she should teach them that each state has a capital city, is a part of our nation, and has unique features of its own, then teach them HOW to find that information if they need it. Same with the Gatlin gun--the teacher should not have to explain what the Gatlin gun is, or why it is important. She should only need to teach the student how to find out for themselves.

If a student is simply taught a large set of facts, the student can only learn what someone else is there to tell him/her. But if we teach them how to learn on their own, how to teach themselves, the amount they can learn is infinite. We need to focus on scientific methods for experimentation, different avenues for research, how to interview someone to learn the most from them--what questions to ask, how to ask them, etc. I think these ideas are far more important than specific facts about different places or events. I also feel it would be impossible to teach everything important over only 12 years. Even with extensive college, there is no way to teach everything one should know.



I do feel we can learn some from wars, even if all we learn is how NOT to repeat them. I'm surprised by the lack of coverage on wars in history classes. Of course my son is not at a level where we are learning about wars yet, but I do know that our high school curriculum breaks History up into several distinct areas--wars are covered in a completely different class than economic history and development. I hope that a history class that covers wars more deeply is on the horizon for your child, but if not, I hope she is taught how to do the research herself so that she can learn about them.

Elizabeth - posted on 03/11/2013

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Denikka-

I agree with you so much about how the basics in school are neglected, and boy I cannot stand poor spelling, even though I myself am not the best speller, we can all get our "their, there and they're" correct if we were taught properly.

High school math does not prep for college at all, I memorized my formulas and still failed college math because I didn't how to show work nor properly use the formulas correctly because college algebra is about knowing how and when to use which formula correctly.

About the history thing though, High school's try their hardest to prepare for college history I think. I myself am a History minor and I can say that there are two separate classes for covering wars and trading. There is even a greater break down of classes covering the different wars. They aren't not focusing on the important things, just trying to fit them all in. Trade was very important in revolutionizing society and sometimes a big reason for most of the wars that occurred.

Denikka - posted on 03/10/2013

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I couldn't agree with you more Evelyn Witt.

The basics are being sorely neglected.
In my grade 11 English course, we were told straight out that spelling and punctuation would not be marked during essay writing. There were times when the teacher had the students go over each others essays and some of the spelling was so bad that they were unreadable.
In Math class we were taught to memorize formulas, but never taught why they did what they did. We never showed our work, it was all done on a calculator.
In Social Studies (I suppose it's similar to History classes), MUCH more emphasis was placed on the stupid small things than on the big events. For example, we spent 3 weeks learning the details about the trading that went on (how much a beaver pelt was worth, etc), and skimmed over the World Wars (I believe there was 1 day where we briefly talked about them. We were never taught who was even involved in the WWs, why they started, etc).

It's pretty sad really.

Evelyn - posted on 03/10/2013

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I would like to add something to this. I am a preschool teacher. So, to a point I can relate to teachers who have troubles in their rooms.

I want to address the point made in the OP about how parents should be on top of their kids' work and keep up with the grades online. One has to stop and think for a minute about this. Yes, parents should know and work with their kids on things that is expected. But you must also keep in mind that a lot of kids have single parent families and its hard for the parents to keep up well and they do the best that they can do. Also, not all families have a computer with internet handy to look at their kids' progress in school and keep up with the class subjects too. It is then up to parents and teachers to meet to keep up with things. Not everyone can afford a PC and internet. Also its ridiculous that teachers expect some homework to be done online at home when those kids do not have access to a computer nor a way to go to the library. It does happen.

Another thing I did not see mention is testing. A lot of schools across this land do not cover subjects but cover how to test, what the test is over, and that is all they do. Our kids are not learning the multiplication tables anymore, to hand write anymore, and a lot of things that they learn are watered down such as historical events and things. My son came home telling me his history teacher could not tell him what the Gatlin gun was and who invented it. I was a bit surprised but not really. I know when someone goes to school to become a teacher of a particular subject that they cover a lot of things. But that fact should have been known anyway as it is a part of US History.

My worry is this: With all the water downed versions of lessons, the lack of teaching basic math skills and writing, is that all our next generations are going to not know how to do anything if we end up loosing computers altogether. Kids can not even address an envelope! I think we need to rethink our ways of teaching.

Momma - posted on 03/08/2013

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In addition, I in no way told my kid anything. That was a conversation between myself and the teacher. She was told to listen, pay attention and do as he asks. Simple as that. ;)

~MeMe

Momma - posted on 03/08/2013

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Oh I do understand why in some instances, kids say the teacher is mean. Which is why at first, I liked him. Then after talking to him 4 times, I realized what they were saying. He was very inapt to be flexible and was very obnoxious. When you have a class of 35+ kids, you need to be able to listen, understand and stick to your guns. He was not able to do anything but be completely inappropriate and show strongman behaviour. You cannot expect anyone to respect you, if you do not respect the other. Again, my daughter has multiple teachers and never ever, have any of them complained of her behaviour. When there is one teacher out of 7 complaining, then I have to dig deeper and figure out what is occurring. Which is what I did and I found the answer. He was expecting things that were not reasonable. No one is perfect and I get that. I still back him, as required but I will not back him if he is crying wolf, frequently. Which is my point, here. It is NOT always the kid. Sometimes, it is the teacher. I have had hard teachers, that does not mean I did not like them. However, if they were inappropriate, so was I.

My daughter also has an "A" in his class. Therefore, it is my opinion she IS doing as she should. He just needed someone to complain to and those kids that show their parent is involved, were the ones that got phone calls. I am here to work with the teachers but I am not here to sell my kid out, when it is not appropriate.

~MeMe

[deleted account]

One of my very closest friends is a professor at a university here. His students don't like him at all because his assignments are difficult, he pushes his students beyond what they believe their limits are so that they can see what they are truly capable of--the classes are hard.

He has had parents come to him to dispute grades for their children--He teaches post graduate level university courses!!! He has an open door policy, if a student feels a grade is unfair, the STUDENT can come to him and dispute the grade--often he will change the grade if the student lays out a good argument. He wants the STUDENT to come to him, not the parent, and he makes that very clear. Yet the parents still come.

Last year, he even had a parent threaten to withdraw funding from the school unless he was fired (this parent makes very large, frequent donations to the school). That's what it took for this student to finally stand up to his father and say, "Hey, I failed this paper because I wrote it 3 hours before it was due without doing any real research." The father had insisted that because his son and other students said that this teacher was "difficult" "mean" or "unreasonable" that the teacher was the problem and he should be replaced. It's like it never occurred to them that their kids could be capable of earning less than stellar marks.

Jodi - posted on 03/08/2013

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" also let him know that all the kids are complaining and saying that he is "mean""

Do you understand why kids consider their teachers "mean"? I was told I was a "mean teacher" just the other day. Why? Because I gave a student the choice of turning her phone off and putting it away, or putting it on my desk. Sorry, but when a kid calls a teacher mean (or even lots of kids) you have to take it with a grain of salt.

Parents need to be better supporters of the teachers. The MINUTE you tell your kids , yep their teacher is fucked up........you have fucked up yourselves. If you have an issue with a teacher, you have the obligation to discuss it directly, on a personal level, with the teacher, What you do NOT have the right to do is screw up the potential relationship between your child and their teacher without having those other conversations first. And unfortunately, that happens far too often.

Momma - posted on 03/08/2013

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I have always ensured to be available for my children's teachers. I believe it takes the parent and teacher to form the child educationally. I encourage all of their teachers to contact me for any reason, whatsoever. I have only had a slight issue with one teacher and that was this year.

My daughter's Math teacher is new and I have heard many complaints of his inability to listen to the children. He has sworn at them and tries to be very "hard". Of course, kids in middle school don't take well to that form of authority. I have never ever had a bad complaint from a teacher, then suddenly this teacher had called me 4 times saying that my daughter was being rude. At first, I thought, OK, maybe something is going on...even though, I was skeptical because she KNOWS better. I discussed it with her and she jumped up and down with the allegation being untrue. I started to think about it and knowing not one other teacher has ever told me such things, something was not right. He did say that she was by far not the worse in the class but he was trying to catch it before it got bad.

So, the last conversation with him, I let him know that I was dumbfounded and perhaps his technique with the kids was not working. I mean my daughter is truly not a rude person. She is very shy and quiet. I also let him know that all the kids are complaining and saying that he is "mean". I am sure not something he wanted to hear but I am black and white. Well, since then, my daughter said he has made changes in his behaviour and that the class is listening better, to him.

So, no, I don't think the sun shines out any of my kids ass but I do know when there is something unbelievable. In this instance, it was the teacher having way to high of expectations and the kids pushing back. He was simply going to the parents that he figured would back him and not freak out on him. I did not appreciate that. I found him to be very obnoxious when speaking with him. He constantly told me that he was a "hard" teacher. I originally told him I like that but then I realized he was being too "hard". I am a "firm" disciplinary but I also know my kids and this was way out of the box for my daughter.

My point being, it is NOT always the kid. ;)

~MeMe

Elizabeth - posted on 03/04/2013

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@Jodi- Hah... I agree with all that you have said, even though I have only ever been a preschool/daycare teacher. Try being told "fuck you" by a two year old and having his dad laugh in your face when you tell him why his son had to sit in time out during play time.

Once I became pregnant with my own child I had to get out of that environment. The kids were awful! If they're that bad at that young age, 2-4 years old, I don't even want to imagine how they will be when they're older. On the other hand my best friend has taught grade 3 through 5 and loves it! She says her students are the best and if there are any with behavioral issues the parents are understanding... She must work at the PERFECT school.

Anyway, parents enabling their kids to behave badly is just a travesty to the school. Have these parents not been through themselves? Do no they not know the important of college and career prep? Homework is the only thing that teaches kids they MUST study if they want to make it. Also how many times a year does someone have to bring their work from their job? Teachers have to do it to get their papers graded, I'm just a document control specialist and even I have to bring work home sometimes, my fiancee works nonstop at work and at home. We all have HOMEWORK for the rest of our lives, might as well learn at an early age!

Teachers rock!

Jodi - posted on 03/04/2013

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I only have a moment, because I'm off to work shortly (to teach the dear little cherubs of the parents who think the sun shines out of their child's rear end).....but allow me just to say that at my school, they do actually send out a list of parents no teacher should contact, only the Executive teachers should ever have contact with them. Why? Because those are generally the parents of the children at school who have consistently ongoing issues in and out of class, right from poor attitude to never working, and the parents will scream a teacher down for not doing their job.

While I was doing year 10 assessment last year, I was told that if a particular child was given an E his mother would be the first on the phone challenging the school. This particular child never stayed in class (and sorry, but he was built like a brick shithouse, I wasn't going to ever "make" him stay), could be found frequently truanting class, never did his work, not EVER. And she could never understand why her darling Johhny got Es on his report card. What we really want to say? "Because your child is a little shit, and you are his enabler, lady!!!"

My husband was telling me that one of his staff at work, who has teenage children, thinks it is okay for his kid to tell a teacher to fuck off. Um, yeah, really.......Apparently that attitude is that if the teacher was doing their job properly, they wouldn't need to be told to fuck off. Nice......I wonder how he feels as a parent when his kid tells him to fuck off when he isn't doing his job. I'd say it is unacceptable at home, why should it be funny when he says it to a teacher?

However, having said all that, kids these days don't do homework. They seriously don't. Well, some will, but the majority won't. Another parental attitude. School is for school. We shouldn't be sending it home - we have enough hours in the day to do it all in class (not....).

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