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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26 Comments

  • Reply Chelsea September 26, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Jessica. I love your blog because I’m currently in a Master’s program for school counseling and these posts all become so real for me as well. I think it’s just plain rude to bash a teacher; like you said, teachers truly have the children’s best interests at heart. I think we underestimate the power of COMMUNICATION…a conference instead of just complaining about the issue. I love your heart.

    • Reply Jessica September 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks so much, Chelsea! You are seriously going to be a fantastic counselor. I love reading your blog for that reason.

  • Reply Nellwyn September 26, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Wow I can’t believe parents are writing posts like that on social media! I’m sure they’re concerned about their children but I think parents and teachers should try and work together to give kids the best possible education and life skills.

    • Reply Jessica September 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      Absolutely! I think they use it to vent and have people tell them they have a right to be upset, but it is getting out of control.

  • Reply Lindsey September 26, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I have so many friends who are teachers that deal with these types of posts daily! It’s so hard when people speak up on something that they actually know very little about. Good for you for sharing about this topic!

    • Reply Jessica September 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks, Lindsey! It really is a difficult profession for many reasons, but having their character questioned with strangers is one I cannot continue to watch happen. 🙂

  • Reply Neely (@Neelykins) September 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    YES YES YES! I see this al day on Facebook.

    • Reply Jessica September 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks, girl! 🙂

  • Reply Kerrie @travelswithmum.com September 26, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for the reminder for all the parents out there! I steer clear of anything like this on social media, if I have a problem (only once in many years) I go to the source to discuss it with them, not behind the teachers/schools back with people on the Internet who have no real idea of the actuall situation.

    • Reply Jessica September 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      Exactly! Which helps solve the problem much quicker. 🙂

  • Reply Crystal // Dreams, etc. September 26, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Yes! This is so important… I think it can be so easy to post things that aren’t helpful to a situation instead of having a conversation with the teacher to check in. It’s always better to check in than post something online. Not just with teachers but with friends and family too. 🙂

    • Reply Jessica September 26, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      Yes! Exactly! It works for any relationship for sure. 🙂

  • Reply Rachel G September 26, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    I think it would help so much if parents went straight to the teacher to ask what they can do to help their student–rather than ask social media? Social media is not known for giving the best advice. 😉

    • Reply Jessica September 26, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Haha. You’ve got that right!

  • Reply Rebecca Hicks September 26, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you for this! It’s so true, and I hate seeing teachers bashed because parents heard what their child had to say and immediately vented on social media. It’s always better to talk to the teacher, and build a relationship with them from day one. That’s the best way to avoid miscommunication and getting upset when there was no reason to be in the first place.

    • Reply Jessica September 28, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Of course! It has been bugging me to see my friends and family fall in to the social media trap. Talk with the school first!! 😉

  • Reply Erin September 26, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Teachers deserve so much respect for the work they do. It’s difficult dealing with kids, administration AND grouchy parents. I agree with your thoughts…if only more parents would take the time to learn all sides of the story before venting on social media, it would benefit everyone involved.
    xoxo, erin | sandsunandmessybuns.com

    • Reply Jessica September 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

      Yes it is, but it is such a rewarding career. I will deal with the poor pay and grouchy parents to see these kids every day. 🙂

  • Reply Aditi Singh September 27, 2016 at 7:48 am

    That’s a great post. I totally agree with you. We need to be better examples.

    • Reply Jessica September 28, 2016 at 9:09 am

      Yes. We absolutely do. 🙂

  • Reply Kim September 27, 2016 at 10:36 am

    YES! I don’t know why parents find it easier to blame the teacher. Our school has a FB group and people get on there and bash teachers for correcting, or grades or what not. But they don’t realize that half of the people in that group are our teachers. Makes me beyond angry and sad. They spend their whole day teaching and nurturing our kids, they deserve more respect for sure!

    • Reply Jessica September 28, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Thank you, Kim. It’s so true. Hopefully if less people comment on those types of posts, they will eventually quit.

  • Reply Lane & Holly @ With Two Spoons September 27, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Such great advice! Communication is the key! Where would be without teachers?

    • Reply Jessica September 28, 2016 at 9:11 am

      Exactly, girls! So very true. :0)

  • Reply Lauren White September 27, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    From one educator to another, thank you. Is was such an insightful post.

    • Reply Jessica September 28, 2016 at 9:11 am

      Thank you so much Lauren. Thank you for what you do. 🙂

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