Tag Archives: parents

Overwhelmingly Low

Every now and then, and too often, for that matter, I am amazed at how low some of my students are.  I have two girls who almost always get all their homework wrong.  A’s homework is ALWAYS at least 90% incorrect, WITH HER PARENTS’ SIGNATURE.  So that means her parents either don’t care that she’s getting them wrong, or they don’t know.  Either is scary, but I’m not sure which is scarier.  Even her 2-digit by 2-digit subtraction was all wrong.  And I know she had to regroup in every one of the 8 problems, but you’d think (or at least, I would think) that her parents could at least use a calculator to check them.

And guess who didn’t return their note for conferences.

I get so frustrated.  Don’t these parents know their child’s future (and relative happiness) is at stake?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  I used to think their parents want to help, and try to help, but can’t.  But now I think they just don’t want to.  They figure any education their kid gets is better than nothing.  And their life, their home, is chaos.  They probably feel overwhelmed.

But I’m sorry.  They need to do better, for their kids.  They need to do more, help more, give up more.  Their child needs them to.

I’ve got 4 students who are averaging at most 40% in spelling.  That’s not easy to do.  You have to spell a lot of fairly simple words incorrectly to average 40%.  Even if you didn’t study.

I’ve got 3 or 4 students who can’t add 2 numbers under 10 together without great difficulty.  I have a boy who can’t write a sentence with words all under 6 letters long without getting 95% of them spelled wrong.

It’s nuts, when you can’t get any help from home for these kids.  I was telling a teacher friend of mine that at least the parents want their kids to do better in life then they did.  But my friend didn’t think so.  She thinks they don’t want them to do better.

I end up thinking that the parents are just thinking of themselves.  They want what THEY want, and their kids’ education is up to their teacher, not them.  I think that is the truth.  Teaching their kid is my job, not theirs.

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Parent Conferences (and other ravings)

I don’t understand parents sometime.  What makes them think that it is okay to request a time for a conference, confirm that time, and then not show up to that conference, without a note or a phone call?  Do they not care about their child’s education?  Do they not think it is rude to just not show up for a scheduled meeting?

I honestly think a large percent of these parents do not place much value on their child’s education.  Maybe they figure that they didn’t get one, and they’re doing alright.  So anything their kids do at school will be an improvement.  I don’t know.

But I keep reminding my students if they want the best chance to do something for work that they actually enjoy doing, they had better get an education.  If they want to avoid working every day doing something they don’t like, they need to get an education.

But I think most of the parents think they have no control over what their kids do at school, and how much the child learns.  They expect the teacher to do all the work, and I think most are too busy and too tired to really put much effort into their child’s education.  Let me say that again.  I think most of the parents feel they are too busy or too tired to put much effort into their child’s education.

And I think the parents just feel they cannot get their child to do what they want them to do.  Between the TV, the game system, and their busy schedule, they feel like if they ask their child to do something, when the child doesn’t, or says no, then there is nothing they can do about it.

Two things I know.  If my kid was as low as some of my students, I would be in communication with the teacher frequently, and asking for help, and working night and day with my student to get them up to grade level.  And the other thing:  I would hate to spend a week in some of these kids’s lives.

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The Note

Every week my class puts all the papers the school wants to send home, or all the papers I want to send home or return, in their cubbies.  On Monday’s we bring that stack of papers home, with a note attactched asking the parents to sign and return it so that I know they have seen the stack of papers returned to them.

Here is a note I got back today from one of the families, written on the back of an unused envelope:

Dear (teacher),

My husban (sic) and I feel it is pointless for us to sign a paper saying we saw all the papers that we had all ready signed.  If you want us to sign the paper for the pack of papers then don’t have us sign every paper he brings home.  Otherwise it’s pointless.  Thank you

(signature)

PS

Any questions Call me

Let’s just say I was a little . . . upset.  Okay, they are wrong.  They do have to sign their child’s homework after it is finished and before they turn it into me the next day (this family hates to sign that as well).  But I’m not just sending home homework.  WHATEVER.  It’s the end of the year.  I don’t need to fight this battle.  Next year’s teacher can deal with it.

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Discipline Notes

Remember Billy and the discipline notice he got on Tuesday?  Well, Billy is supposed to get the notice signed by his parents and return it the next day.  But he didn’t.  Today he brings it in, but it’s signed. . . in pencil . . . with no capital letters.  Hmmmm, do I look stupid?  I think his mom’s name is even spelled wrong.  Billy, Billy, Billy.  Now I have to call mom, and not only tell her that Billy received a discipline not 2 days ago, but that he tried to forge his mother’s signature and turn it in.  Mom is not going to be happy.

I give Billy the choice; I can call mom right now in class and tell her, or he can.  I figure he would much rather have me tell mom, but he does the bigger thing and decides that he will tell her.  That takes guts!  It turns out mom wasn’t happy, and seemed very supportive when I got on the phone with her after her and Billy talked.  She assured me Billy would be punished at home for what he did.  It’s nice to know some students get real consequences at home for bad choices they make at school.  For a lot of students, missing a recess for bad behavior is something they have learned to live with and accept it as the price to pay.

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Teaching in a Public School

I’ve been teaching for 15 years now, all in a district in Orange County, California.  It’s not the most afluent city in the county, but it’s not the poorest, either.  In fact, it does have a few things going for it, and it pays its teachers well.  I’ve spent most of my career in the lower grades, but I’ve been teaching Fourth Grade for the last 2 and a half years.  I like it.  They can actually do some things on their own.

But the district has a lot of what we call “English Language Learnings.”  That usually means their parents speak something else besides English, and their English language is limited.  So we have to do a lot of English language develevopment.  What we call ELD.  But we can’t call it that, because what about those kids who ONLY speak English.

What this means to the teachers in my district is that many of our students get very little help from home.  I have my students get their homework signed every night to make sure their parents have at least seeen the work, but still, it is not unusual for someone to bring their homework back done completely wrong.  I ask them, “Did your parents sign this before or after you did this work?”  They always tell me it was signed AFTER  they did the work.  So I don’t understand how a parent can send their child’s homework back with every answer wrong.

And communicating with parents is difficult as well.  For the most part I can’t send notes home because a majority of the parents only read Spanish.  And almost all of the parents speak at best in broken English.  Now, I do have a few English only families, but they are rare.  This year I have 2 white kids, a couple Philipinos and the rest are hispanic.  It is incredibly frustrating to not be able to communicate with a parents easily.  Almost everything has to be translated first.

Teaching is not always easy.  And not always fun.  But that’s okay.  It isn’t suppose to be.

*****

I frequently hear that California’s public schools are failing our students.  I beg to differ.  The students in California cannot learn what they need to from only their teachers.  Sorry, it’s not going to happen!  There is too much to learn, and not enough time to teach it so that everyone will learning it.  What must happen is that parents need to be the primary teachers for their children.  Parents need to know how their children are doing at school, and make sure they are up to speed on everything that they are learning there.  If not, it is THEIR job to make sure their children are grasping what is being taught.  That is their job!  So I hate to say it, but if students are failing in public schools (and they are, trust me!), then their PARENTS are failing the students.  Not the teachers.

I’m not saying the teachers are completely innocent and not at fault.  But I have seen to many struggling students, who dispite report cards, parent conferences, and papers sent home, still have no idea what their students need educationally.  They keep asking, “How is my child doing?”

I keep thinking, “Aren’t you paying attention?  Haven’t you been listening?  Haven’t you seen all that work I’ve sent home with your child?  Did you not see his/her last report card?”  Parents, listen up!  If your student is not at grade level in any aspect of their education, spend the time and get them there!  You are their first and last hope!  It’s up to you!  I can’t get all the students who are below grade level up to where they should be.  There are too many of them.  Your child’s teacher needs your help.  And so does your child!

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