Thursday, March 18, 2010

Teacher versus Parent

Are you a teacher? A parent? Both?

As a parent of school-aged children, I’ve had many discussions with other parents about little Johnny’s or little Suzy’s performance in school, and also about the teacher’s performance. I’ve heard expressions of complete satisfaction or complete dissatisfaction. Fortunately, I haven’t had any major issues with any of my kids’ teachers, but I have been in conversations with other moms and dads who tell me how awful a particular teacher is, what they think about a teacher, or what they’ve had to say to a teacher.

She gives too much homework.
Why did Suzy get a D?
Why didn’t Johnny get an A?
We told you we were going to Disneyland and that

Johnny would miss a few classes!
She’s not into hugging the kids.
Suzy is not challenged enough.
That’s too many books to bring home.
Why did he even become a teacher?

And this is the mild stuff.

Parents – are we brutal? Do we expect these mere human beings to perform miracles with our kids?

Teachers – are the media correct when it says you are failing our children?

Years ago, I received a letter from a friend who was a teacher. It was full of grammatical errors, I thought, “Hmmm… she’s teaching someone’s child.

On the other hand, I know many teachers who are well prepared and dedicated to bringing out the best in a child. And, a large number of parents are very supportive of their schools and appreciative of hard working teachers.

Thankfully, we can not generalize about every teacher, every parent, and every child.

Does the teacher versus parent dilemma have an ending? Probably not.

Parents: Can you share any “teacher” stories…good or bad?
Teachers: Can you share any “parent” stories…good or bad?


One Photo said...

As Mirabelle has only just started pre-school a few hours a week I can't really comment on a parental viewpoint. However, remembering my own years at school there were teachers who were OK, good teachers and then those who were truly great and inspiring. The latter are the ones we remember throughout our lives - my Math teacher at Grammar School was one of those, and thanks to her I headed down the University road and degree course that I did and into a career that I loved. We all have to hope I think that our own children have more of the great and inspirational type of teachers and less of the just OK and good. To be that kind of inspirational teacher is I think a wonderful gift also.

SuziCate said...

That will be a continuing drama just like the one between working moms and stay at home moms. Who's to say who's right. circumstances vary with each episode and the blame shifts. If we could each be accountable and agree to work together we might be able to come up with solutions.

Kate said...

Well I'm a teacher (although not back at work yet) and I can say what a hard, exhausting and very thankless job it can be at times. And when one does get thanks and appreciation - it makes a huge difference.
But I'm also a parent and understand how protective one feels over one's children, and how much trust we have to feel to hand over our precious kids into someone else's hands. It's hard to entrust their future and happiness and feel confident at all times that they're in the best hands.

yonca said...

I don't think it will be end.I'm not a teacher. But I have friends who are teaching 2nd and 3th grade.This is not an easy job.But being parent is not easy either.I think parent and teacher cooperation a must for solution.

Unknown said...

When I worked at an elementary school, I saw first hand the teachers that put so much of their heart into teaching. Some teachers literally cried when one of their students moved away and they were no longer going to be in their class. Other teachers cheered and beamed when a child finally got a concept. Teachers put their own money in to make their classrooms comfortable and a joy to be in. They work during the weekends on planning lessons and grading papers and God forbid there is an IEP coming up. They have some work to do before the meeting.

On the other hand, as a mom who homeschooled her kids, my main reason was that there were teachers who didn't know my child as well as I knew her. I knew her learning abilities and that gave me an edge to teach her the way she needed to be taught.

I have respect for both teachers and parents although there are some bad ones in each of those categories.

Robin said...

Overall Ive had really great teachers for my kids..ones who went over and above...that is my opinion though...many who also had the same teachers did not feel that depends on the kids as well and their social younger one is very social and mature..but also required a lot of feedback which made a few of her early (1st,2nd grade) teachers have a love/hate relationship with her...I could not blame the teacher for a relationship conflict.. If you are talking about a teacher having a lack of educational skills though, that's a different story...and no Ive never had a problem with that...I must say that I have seen a lot of problematic parents though..and I am not a teacher, but I do work with many parents and children and the parents have many unattainable requirements that really need to be addressed at home...Ok sorry ..I went off on a tangent..EnJoY YoUr DaY..!

Joanne said...

My children have gone through the school system, k-12, and what we've learned is that there are so many teacher styles and personalities. Some mesh, some don't. But even with the ones who don't, the grace is that there's still a valuable lesson to be learned, which is how to get along with all types of people.

Karen said...

The majority of our experiences with teachers have been overwhelmingly positive. I've known many that choose the profession because they have a love for it and a love for kids. There have been a couple that probably should have chosen something else. I think that for the most part teachers are undervalued and certainly underpaid. Just as you can't expect a church to teach your child everything he or she needs to know about God, you can't leave their education entirely up to the schools and teachers. It's a partnership and parents need to assume a leading role.

Anita said...

AGING MOMMY, SUZICATE, KATE, YONCA, CHOCOLATE, ROBIN, JOANNE, KAREN - Thank you for your valuable input. I wanted the post to be non-judgemental so that you would tell us of your personal experiences and not be swayed - and you have. Sharing your different stories give us all something to think about.


Anita said...

SUZICATE - I can't find your blog. do you still have one?

Lisa Smith said...

Each year we pray so hard for our children's teachers. We've still had difficult years...sometimes it's just we have a hard time jiving with the teacher's routine and expectations...not bad just have to work a little harder. Some years we fall in love with our teachers and they come to our birthday parties even after the children move on. I can say with confidence that I have been blessed with many teachers who love my children LOTS over the years and I love that! I love the ones that push my children to do more than they ever thought they could and we have a couple of those this year too. God knows just what they each need to succeed!

Buckeroomama said...

It's a continuing drama, I'm afraid. Just as there will always be people in every profession who are good and there will be those who are not as good, it's the same way with teachers. For some teachers, it's a vocation, a calling; for others, it's just a job. We just pray that should our children get a teacher who approaches teaching as "just a job," then at least he/she will do the job well. That's the least that I (and the school, for that matter!) would and should expect.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that some kids mesh with some teachers better than others. It's not the kiss of death for the student or the teacher. I've raised 3 kids, all college educated and there have been a couple of bumps academically but they were good learning tools for what waited in their futures, co-workers and supervisors.

My oldest is a teacher, now a SAHM with babies, but she put her heart and soul into her kids and loved teaching.

Only one incident in elementary school and that teacher wound up going into a facility for live in mental health care. Now that was a bad year for the entire class.

I applaud teachers. I loved almost every one of my daughter's teachers and was a very hands on parent in all of their schools.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Chocolate Covered Day Dreams.

I also think that a good teacher can only do so much and then when the child goes home, the parent must also do their part in their childs education.

What a great subject to talk about,especially since my children aren't of school age yet and it gives me something to think about and get ready for!

Chapters From My Life said...

I am a parent and a teacher and in short I can say I work very hard at both of the jobs.. because I know the future of those kids depend on me. I have had very good teachers in my life and now I am trying to give back to the society what I got from them

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

Being on both sides of the fence, I can also understand the issue from both perspectives. There are many factors that affect the dynamics of a classroom. The expectations of the learner, parent and teacher - their individual personalities may or may not mesh. Not to mention whatever goes on at home.I could go on and on. In a perfect world the teacher would be able to meet all the expectations placed upon them-but we live in reality. The reality is that no matter how "good" a teacher is there will always be that parent that has issues....that student that just does not excel..who's fault is it? The parents for not supporting their child?
The learner for not taking responsibility for their own learning? The teacher for not being "good" enough? These are very difficult questions.Teaching is hard, thankless work that does not end when the bell rings at 3:00pm. We put a lot of our own money back into our classrooms for materials, incentives, games...etc. We work weekends, holidays and until midnight during the week. Teacher burnout rate is high. Some of us push forward and some of us-fall over from exhaustion and quit. All in all-I love what I do and I have never had an issue with a parent that was not resolved after a meeting. Teachers are human-sometimes parents forget. The best parents were the ones who volunteered in the classroom. They saw first hand what it was like and they developed a new appreciation for our "job".

Georgiana Daniels said...

Great question. I think teachers are the most underpaid professionals, and most who go into teaching do so with a heart for kids and learning. My oldest has had some great teachers, who encouraged her to reach higher. That said, there have been some stinkers, teachers who were perhaps disillusioned and overworked? Either way, they were doing damage to the learning process. There are exceptional teachers, and crummy ones, just like any other profession, I suppose. Cheers to the ones who make our kids shine!

Abby said...

No, I also think "probably not". There will always be burnt out teachers, and there will always be high-maintenance parents.

Like you, I *knock on wood* haven't had any bad teacher experiences with my kids, but I also feel that I'm not too picky about them because education starts at home - that's my and my husband's job.

I will say that I spent half a year as a part-time teacher in a public school. Didn't leave me feeling too confident about public school! I saw too much! Yet, my kids still go there...

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Teachers - overworked, underpaid - and there a those that aren't worth a poop. But teachers alone can't solve the education nor should they take all the blame. If kids aren't fed, sheltered and cared for at home, hard to teach them. If parents don't actively participate, no support. Imagine if everyone worked together, what might occur.

Anonymous said...

Anita, Yes I still have a blog it's

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher and a parent, and I think both sides need to share equally in the education of our children. As a teacher, I've encountered many parents who don't take any responsibility at all for their child's education, and who expect the teacher to do everything for them. And as a parent I've encountered many teachers who just don't care, or who lack the insight to figure out that each child learns differently and some children need a different approach. I've also encountered wonderful, involved parents who work with their children and help them learn and grow, and I've encountered wonderful teachers who fully understand how important their job is and who treat each child like one of their own.

Education works best when the parents and teachers work together as a team. The parents know their child better than anybody else, and they can help the teacher to understand their child's individual needs. A good teacher knows that, and will try to forge a strong relationship with the parents; and a good parent will follow that lead and be involved and work with the teacher. A good teacher will then take what they learn from that relationship and use it to tailor their teaching methods, and to make sure that every child has a chance to learn and excel in the classroom.

It's a win-win situation when we work together. When we don't, it's only the child who loses. And I won't let that happen in my classroom.

gayle said...

As a Teacher Assistant...I would not want to be the teacher because we have more problems with the parents than we do with the kids. It is very hard to be a teacher now because in most all school systems the teachers are told what to do every minute of the day and this can be bad in many ways. As parents we need to try to remember that no one is perfect.

Annie Z said...

Last year, I discovered there were rumours being spread about my teaching by people making assumptions and not seeing the whole picture. Now without being ego-driven, I know I am good flute teacher. I have been teaching for 20 years with only good comments and (mostly!) happy kids.

Last year, I had a down year, the first in 20 years. It happens. Illness, family stuff, tiredness, things build sometimes. And thats all it takes so it seems.

Suddenly, there is gossip and a new parent worried about me teaching her child because of it. She came for a couple of trial lessons and left happy.

Will that be enough to shift the gossip? That and the fact that I back on board refreshed and renewed this year? Probably not. It seems to take a hell of a lot longer for the bad gossip to shift. But I don't care. I know I am once again enjoying my teaching, feel healthy and lively and my students are reaping the rewards!

Anita said...

LISA, BUCKAROOMAMA, MARLA, TRISH, FARILA, NAKAMURAS, GEORGIANNA, ABBY, MIDLIFE JOBHUNTER, JEFF, GAYLE, NEWMUM - more great answers and opinions! I'm hearing things that I hadn't heard before...a few more things that make me think...a few more things that will help me continue to have good relationships with my kids' teachers, for, as you said, the sake of the children.
TEACHERS - a special thanks to you - for what you do, and for enduring the hardships, and for sharing your opinions with the rest of us.


Kate said...

There's an award for you over at mine, by the way!

andrea said...

I have not yet had a bad experience with any of my childrens' teachers. I do believe that unless the teacher is way out of line, it is a parent's duty to back him/her up so the child has respect for the teacher's authority. I would never complain about a bad grade/detention/whatever my child received because they need to learn that actions have consequences (i.e. you come to school late, you get a detention). My sister, however, is a fourth grade teacher, and you would be shocked at some of the things she deals with from the parents. They make excuses as to why little Johnny didn't finish his homework, or whatever. It's our job as parents (and the teacher's job too) to prepare these kids for life in the real world. Or they'll get mad because their kid got a low test score. Hey, it's the kid's responsibility to study and do his own homework, and if he doesn't, he must face the consequences. It's a good lesson for the real world.

Anita said...

ANDREA - I'm all for teaching kids responsibility too, and I don't like to coddle - all for the reasons you mentioned. There's a real world out there that may surprise them if they are unprepared for it.
I'm quite sure your sister could tell us all a few stories! :)
Thanks for your input.

KATE - I'll head right over! :)


Menopausal New Mom said...

Great post Anita, so far, I'm just concerned with pre-school for my daughter which I'm happy to report I'm pleased with. both of the teachers there are wonderful with the children and my daughter looks forward to going each time making it a lot easier for me to leave her there. Once school starts in a couple of years, who knows what I'll run into. Let's just say that I don't envy any of the teachers I'm not happy with Lol!

Rebecca S. said...

I can't possibly add anything enlightening to this list of great responses to your post, but I did enjoy reading them all and agree that education starts at home, and unfortunately, in our society, much of our public education is becoming social work, which makes a teacher's job even harder when funding cuts for support services keep happening.

Hilary said...

When my kids were young, I spent a lot of time at their school on the parent council/parents' association. I volunteered in class, coordinated pizza day and various other fund raisers. I got to know many/most of the teachers and admin quite well. I often saw a direct correlation between parents' complaints about a teacher and very poorly behaved children. This is not to say that all of the teachers were wonderful, but most of them absolutely were and the vast majority of complaints such as you listed were ill-founded. It's always best to spend time connecting with your child's teacher if at all possible. Their education is a joint effort. There shouldn't be a feeling of "versus" about it. Great post, Anita. :)

Anya at Notes of Joy said...

As a teacher, I believe it's my responsibility to share joy with my students that shows them that I love what I do -- which, in turn, fosters a joyful atmosphere for learning, and allows the student to be comfortable as they grasp and understand new concepts.

As an almost mom (in October, if all goes well! :-), I love reading these posts and responses about the joys (and trials?) of parenthood. Thanks, Anita!

diney said...

My two have both been lucky enough (so far) to have had very inspiring, kind, engaging teachers but I do think it helps that a) my two are polite and fairly willing to be taught without being geeky nerds (!) and b) we are supportive parents who play our role too eg encouraging homework to be done and handed in on time - like most partnerships it is a give and take situation. Teachers are mere humans, poor souls, and sometimes it must be a thankless task. However, if I felt a teacher was not up to our expectations or if there seemed to be a personality clash, I would be straight into school to sort/discuss it - our kids are too precious for us to just shrug our shoulders and ignore a problem as important as their education and happiness at school.

Sharon said...

Hmm, as a parent of one high school teacher and a future elementary school teacher, I hope that parents will offer a bit of a break..but I must admit, I've complained about teachers before. I still think they should be accountable for the way they teach. One of the problems I'm encountering is burned out teachers, just collecting a paycheck. I would get fired if I performed in such a way.

Great thoughtful post!

Together We Save said...

Ummm... yesterday my 6th grader's teacher took her out into the hall to discuss why the boy sitting next to her had cheated on a class assignment. She was angy with my daughter because she was part of a conversation with several other kids about how they were surprised the answers were in the back of the book? I just don't see how this was her fault.

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Anita said...

Teachers, watch out for MENONEWMOM in a few years! Just kidding Deb. lol
REBECCA - Indeed you have added more. Funding is another component to comfort/discomfort level of the teacher, which affects his or her attitude, I'm sure.
HILARY - You are so right about getting to know your child's teacher and contributing time or resources to the classroom. It seems to make the parent more solution-oriented instead of problem-oriented.

ANYA - Congratulations! I'm happy that you're joining the mommy club. :)
Thanks for visiting the blog, too. I like hearing from you and hearing your opinions. Your attitude as a teacher is one that most parents would really appreciate.
I'll be stopping by your blog soon. :)

DINEY - may you have continued success in the process of educating your children. Sounds like you and the kids are on the right path.

SHARON - Thanks for your honesty. I appreciate all comments, even when it may be different from the majority. It adds more reality and diversity to the conversation.

TOGETHER WE SAVE - I hope the situation was resolved with your
6th grader, that there are not permanent hard feelings. I've heard of those situations before when you're totally dumbfounded by the situation.
Thanks for visiting!

SAFE HOME HAPPY MOM - Thanks for your visit. I will visit your blog soon. :)


Arlee Bird said...

This was several years ago: My son was new in middle school. He was always smaller than the other kids, but he was very bright and a very smooth talker. I started getting some bad reports from his teachers. When I'd discuss it with him he would give me very convincing stories about what was really wrong. I was convinced that it was a teacher problem.

Then the principal called me and my son in for a conference. When we arrived, seated at a large table in the meeting room were the principal, vice-principal, and every one of his teachers. My son realized he couldn't wriggle out of that situation and I realized he had conned me. It was a real eye-opener and after that benefit of the doubt first went to the teacher.

Anita said...

ARLEE BIRD - What's that kid doing now? I hope he's put that talent of his to good use. :)

Thanks for giving parents more to think about.