Life

Dear Parents of Students

September 26, 2016
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Dear Parents of Students,

School has started back up, grades are coming in, and everyone is getting back in their routine.  Things are going great, and then, it happens.  Your child comes home with a questionable grade, a discipline referral, or detention.  The way you handle this situation could have a major impact on how your child views school and educators from this moment on.

Let me start off by saying, I know you love your children.  I know that whatever reaction you have, it is because you love them. However, we live in a digital day and age, and immediately going to social media outlets to vent may do more harm than good.

You may get frustrated with us sometimes and believe we made a bad decision.  Educating children is hard work.  We are responsible for teaching little (and some big) humans how to read, write, do math, understand science, learn from history, and be contributing members of society.  Few, if any, educators get in to this career for the money.  Yes, the summers off are nice, but the long hours spent planning, grading, attending extended learning classes, meetings, and training more than make up for them. Although we try out best, it is not inconceivable that we sometimes make mistakes.

I teach students at my school every day “before you post THINK. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind?”  This is an important lesson that even adults benefit from.  The internet is forever, and when a post is deleted, it doesn’t go away.  What happens when your child sees what someone has said about their teacher or principal?  Is it worth compromising the reputation of a professional for one post?

Lately, I have seen posts on message boards, Instagram, and Facebook from friends and strangers starting off with “Parents, help me out. My son/daughter just came home from school and told me…”  My heart breaks as I read countless responses to “too much homework” or “cruel and unusual punishment” as parents offer their support, but tear down a teacher for something no one has any information about (other than what a 5-18 year-old reported). I have read comments suggesting a teacher be “fired” for too much homework, or having a child write an apology note for being mean to another student.  There are even Facebook groups where parents can rant about teachers and district policies.  Honestly, I could give countless examples of posts I have seen in just the last few months.

When a child is doing well in school, and brings home a grade that is out of the ordinary for them, you may be concerned.  This can be even more difficult when you don’t agree with the grade.  Yes, grades are important, but they don’t determine the whole value of a person.  Instead of reacting in front of your child or posting to social media to rant, email the teacher and ask to speak with him or her about it.  A simple phone conversation or face to face conference may clear up any doubt you may have, and eliminate unwanted negative tone a full email may convey.  If your child thinks they can complain to you and you will “take care of it,” they may start to think they don’t have to work hard anymore.

The same thing goes with discipline concerns.  As an educator, when I see parents posting on social media asking for “advice” on a school discipline issue with their child, I get nervous.  I know what kind of comments follow those posts, and they aren’t particularly helpful.  As their parent, you should listen to your child, encourage them to tell the truth about what happened, and let them know there are consequences for their actions. If your child thinks you are upset with the teacher, they may start to develop a “parent versus school” mentality.  When they see that you are on the same team, they will continue to respect both of you.  If you believe a punishment doesn’t fit the crime or that your child was wronged, take a few deep breaths and calmly request a conference.

Please, refrain from intentionally or unintentionally bashing the teacher or educator on your page as your first step.  Don’t ask for advice from people who are removed from the situation.  If you want to understand what happened, go directly to the source.  I have had several conversations with upset parents that were quickly resolved after hearing the adult’s perspective on the situation.  No, I am not saying your child is lying, but often times a child’s perspective can be a little off.  Instead of immediately posting, THINK.  Take a few deep breaths, and request to speak to the teacher directly.

I believe most educators, like parents, have students’ best interest at heart.  Most of them are passionate about making a difference in children’s lives and have been called to education.  We believe that education is a team effort.  Without your support, our jobs become a thousand times more difficult.  Please think before you post or comment.  Your child picks up on your attitudes and beliefs, so choose an attitude of mutual respect toward your school and its educators.  If you can model effectively how to handle conflict, your child will be an even better person.

Sincerely,

An Educator/ School Counselor/ Former Teacher

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