Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quality Education: Partnership with Your Child’s Teacher

I used to blog for my old company, but they took the blog down. I am
not actually allowed to own the writings I put up on that blog, but as
I reference them on occasion in my writing I am putting those articles
up in my archives here for reference sake. I'll put the tag GS on those
articles noting that they were originally published on the

Education: Partnership with Your Child’s Teacher

19, 2008 – 7:16 am by

There are two things
true about being a parent: First, there is nobody in the world who
knows your child better than you, and Second: everyone else sees
things about your child you can’t or won’t.

Remember as a
parent, the ultimate decision about your child’s education is in
your hands. If there are any major decisions or choices to be made
about your child’s education you will be consulted. That doesn’t
mean that, if as a parent, you will always agree with the education
decisions or you will always get your way. What it means is, at the
end of the day if you, as the parent, are not happy with the
decisions made regarding the education of your child you will always
have the option of pulling him or her out and homeschooling your

Education is not
restricted to the 6 or so hours children are in school. It happens
all day everyday, even while they are asleep (it’s happening to you
too or you probably wouldn’t be reading this, I hope your parents
are proud). Teachers are only responsible for a small part of the
education of your children. It is the parents who have the largest
responsibility in the education of their children. It’s teachers,
though, who are specially trained to teach children most of the core
skills we are expected to learn as we grow up.

Parents are expected
to teach many social skills, personal responsibility, good habits,
and just about everything else related to character. This includes
skills necessary to be an effective learner. That is why it is so
important to have a working partnership with your child’s teacher,
even if you only meet face to face for five minutes at the beginning
of the school year.

The grand majority
of parents meet teachers about 4 times a year or less. As a teacher,
I met most parents at one of four times a year: meet the teachers
night and three parent teacher conferences. I always tried to go to a
few sports outings, where I could meet a few parents and of course as
in every school a few parents volunteer time. By the end of the
school year I would hope to at least be able to recognize most of the
parents of my students.

I am a firm believer
that the parents should meet and talk with a teacher at least once
during each school year. If you can’t make the meet the teacher
night then call

and ask your child’s teacher when would be a good time to meet.

Don’t be surprised
if the teacher is a bit hesitant to meet at first. Most parents only
want to meet a teacher when they are unhappy and want to complain.
Also, remember that if you wait until after work to stop by the
school to chat with a teacher, he or she is still at work. A lot of
teachers will still refer you to meet the teacher night, because that
is the purpose of the night, but most will make time to meet a parent
if they can’t make it to regular meeting nights.

As a general rule, I
expect parents to give me respect as a teacher, stay involved
everyday with their child’s educations, and offer to volunteer if
they can.

Parents who respect
teachers as professionals have children who respect teachers as
professionals. Respect doesn’t mean no questions asked. I, as a
professional, am more than happy to explain my philosophy of teaching
and support my teaching methods. Just be willing to be bored to
tears. Unlike most teachers though, I do this on a regular basis. I
am used to explaining why and how I teach to laymen. I don’t get
offended and I can usually point you to a research article or two
that are relevant. The average teacher usually only discusses the
finer points of education with other teaching professionals. Even
parent teaching conferences are usually limited to specific
differentiation for your child. It is ok to ask a teacher to justify
teaching methods, but if you are going to do so do it in a
non-confrontational way and give them the time to really give an
answer, even if it means they have to refer to books or articles.
Referring to research doesn’t mean a teacher has no clue it really
means the teacher is trying hard to be the best at what he or she

When discussing
education with a teacher, please keep in mind that all teachers are
required to study child development and methods of teaching before
they step into a classroom, even for observation. Also please
remember teaching children is different than training adults. I’ll
get into that difference some other day. If you only know one thing
about teaching know this, educating children is way more than
explaining how to do something then letting them practice until they

Keep involved with
educating your child everyday. Parents should reserve time for
homework every night and review the work done everyday (I did it at
school is not an excuse for not bringing homework home and showing it
to you). Not only does this foster good work habits that will benefit
your child throughout life, but it gives you the time to keep up
with what is going on in school. Homework is not about getting the
right answer, it is about the process. Homework builds good study
habits and gives the students time to explore and figure things out
on their own. Difficulty or questions that can’t be figured out
should be written down and asked about in class the next day. For
most elementary students, reading and discussing what was read at
home is also required.

I also like to see
parents volunteer. As a teacher, though, I spend most of my time
planning and teaching alone. Finding a use for a parent can actually
mean more work for me. Instead of offing time offer concrete help.
Take the time to look at the school curriculum and see what your
child is going to learn during the year. Then find a few spots where
your expertise can enhance the learning. Finally, tell your teacher
early. As a teacher, if I have a list of parents and what they can do
I can then schedule you into my lessons.

Good luck working
with your child’s teacher. Some years will be harder than others,
but all years will be rewarding.

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