Monday, November 2, 2009

I can't do this on my own...

This is my 20th year teaching and a lot has changed. I like: the standard based report cards that we use, the differentiated instruction that meets the needs of more children, time to collaborate with co-workers and the quality of educational materials that are available.

I don't like the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT (don't get me started), bullying on the rise, the cuts in art and music programs, the cuts, overall, in money for education, there is more information to teach and no more time in the day to do it, there is too much assessment, standardized testing is bogus, the spread between the have's and have not's continues to widen, the condition of school buildings is worsening, we are falling farther behind other countries, students don't have goals or values and they're just biding their time instead of enjoying the educational process.

Recently I read about the lack of parental involvement in Mrs. Bluebird's classroom. I find the same atmosphere in my school too. We are having our fall parent conferences right now. The first one I had on Thursday is a case in point.

"Mom" and I were discussing "Green Boy's" report card and she was shocked to see an "F" for the research grade. I explained to her that of the 3 reports we had done (we do one a month), He got a 50% on the first one, a zero on the second (he didn't turn it in) and a 70% on the third one. She become irate "WITH ME," wondering why I hadn't informed her and there must be some mistake, because she remembers "Green Boy" doing the report and I must have lost it. "Green Boy" took this opportunity to say that he remembered giving it to me.

I thank the Lord, that I am so organized and anal about keeping records. Not only did I show her copies of the first and third reports, explaining why he "earned" the grades he got, but I had "Green Boy" pull out his homework agenda and I flipped to the Friday report #2 was due and showed her where I had written the work not completed, (including report #2 not being turned in) and how she had signed the bottom of the page. I also showed her other Fridays where I had written work not completed, her signature being quite apparent at the bottom of the page.

This took the wind out of her sails, but she still added that I was giving to much work and she had a full time job and didn't have the time to read all the things I sent home to be signed. She also commented about how he was doing fine "last year" and has never had these problems before.

I feel like I spend half my time defending how I teach. I explained how I give study hall time every day, that I have no behavior issues with "Green Boy" and he is very bright and quite capable of completing the work, he is just not using his time wisely. I explained that this is a different year (that the odd numbered years are usually harder then the even numbered years), and there is new material being presented.

The educational system in America needs a major overhaul. Something has to change. I feel that, parents are more important then I am, in their child's education. If they don't "have time," why did they bother to have the kids in the first place? Parents need to get involved and stay involved and if they don't and nothing changes then an entire generation is doomed! So, homeschool parents, keep it up! Your kids are getting the best of you and they may have to run things if the public school parents don't pull their heads out soon.


(a public school teacher that is almost ready to call it quits)


RB said...

Great post Tracey! We just had our parent conferences and I had similar experiences. Not only do some of my parents not have the time, but they simply were annoyed that they had to be there in the first place. I am a firm believer that we are raising a generation of weenies. These kids (and parents) are just never held accountable.

Mountain Girl said...

AMEN! That is why I sort of left the classroom.....I think parents are lazy and should not be having children - most of them! I know one family who does NOT believe in homework and has stated that in front of their child. Cool move, huh?

Annie said...

Parent involvement is a two way street. We've had the teachers who don't want to meet with us until things are "out of control" we find that they are the passive teachers who don't address problems and find it important the they are the cool teacher. We had a teacher call EVERY night to check if our son was doing his homework. And then tell us that our son shouldn't be doing Taekwondo because he had gotten a 70 on his spelling test the week previous.

I'm sure you teachers can attest to the fact that sometimes the teachers are the problem. We've found that meeting with teachers early and often helps, but some don't want to. I sent three notes, a letter, signed the weekly folder indicating I wanted a conference, and even then couldn't see a teacher until parent teacher conferences, and she was upset that I didn't want to do a "paper conference" where she sends me a progress report and I sign it.
My husband volunteers at the school every day and still can't get five minutes of her time. So, some of us try.

I will say the other teacher in that school is very accomodating and communicates with us well. I too am about tired of public schooling, and hate the No Child Left Behind idiocy. And they want to take over our health care. God help us.

Melba said...

I think a BIG part of the problem on both ends are that so many people are maxed out these days. Exhausted, overworked, and underpaid...especially the teachers!!

You are right that the educational system needs a major overhaul, as does our economy! I couldn't agree more with all of the points you made about the things you don't like.

It's sad to me when teachers honestly feel like most of the parents they know are lazy and don't' care. We MUST find a way to revitalize the partnerships between parents and teachers if we are ever going to change anything!

Personally, I think MOST parents are trying to do the best they can with the information and resources they have. AND...I think it's important to remember that, whether we like the children or not, they are sending us the best they've got. I think many parents just don't know how to fix it when their children have problems or don't complete work. They are busy and overworked, and trying to balance family on top of everything else. Not making excuses for the inattentiveness, or the fact that parents blame teachers for their children's failures. My point is that there has to be some way to reach parents again, and to make them see that they are vital to their children's educational process.

Wow...very thought provoking post!


Headless Mom said...

Oh Tracey, don't quit! We need organized, caring, in-touch teachers like you!!!

I agree that more parents need go get and stay involved with their kids education. Problems with the public school system aside, (and I agree that there are many problems,) I think it needs to be a 'it-takes-a-village' approach. I LOVE our school and our teachers, but I'm in my kids' classes once a week helping the teacher with whatever they need help with. I have heard from other parents that bitch about aspects of our school and yet these are the same parents that are never there. Go figure.

I don't have all the answers, or any for that matter, but I know that when I'm at the school, my kids light up, get their work done, raise their hands in class. I even get hugs from other kids-even in the grocery store! I think most kids would respond in kind. I think that next to parenting, teaching has to be the hardest job in America and I THANK YOU!!!! for all that you do. I know that you may be the only person in some kids' lives that truly cares about them. I applaud your efforts, understand your frustration, and lift you up in prayer.

Kris said...

I think parents today (as a whole) are lazy today. At least in the state I live in, they are more interested in their kids' abilities on the football field...or whatever athletic field they play on. There is NOTHING more frustrating to me! Yes, there is a place and time for these activities...but ultimately, fore 99.9% of these kids their GRADES are going to be what gets them into college...what finds them a good job...what pays their bills. Somehow parents just DON'T GET THAT. It's the biggest reason we are leaving this state...Lord willing, soon.

I realize parents are busy...aren't we all? And what kind of message are we sending our kids if we "don't have time to read what gets sent home"? I mean, really? All goes back to those who tended to create their family easily just don't appreciate what they have on many levels.

Keep up the good what you can to inspire the kids who don't have parents inspiring them. Then go home each day knowing you did what you could, and pray that your time in their life makes a positive impact today and in their future.

Becky said...

Yes, many problems indeed, on both sides!
I taught public school for 6 years and then quit when we adopted my son. I've been out of full time teaching for 10 years now. The past 9 years I have worked part time in private Pre-K settings. Needless to say, very different.

I always thought that when my daughter started Kinder., I would return to teaching full time. Now, we are adopting again and I want my 3rd to get from being at home with me what my first 2 have. So....who knows when I'll go back. Hubby and I have already discussed that if I return to the full time job force, in the public school system, it won't be as a teacher!
If I could go and love on kids and truly teach, which I loved and was very good at, that would be great! But, that is not all there is to it! You have to deal with all the other 'crap' that comes from some students, parents, administration, the state, etc.
Too many headaches, not enough time, money, or benefits for those headaches!!

I believe that I would return to the school system in a para-professional role. Knowing that I would not make the money that my degree can earn me but, I would still get benefits, more money than I make now, and still have the same schedule and holidays my kids have!

I do understand and I do feel for you b/c I have been there. And, having a school ager who is in 4th grade this year, we've dealt with the sorry-a** teachers too!!
And, my husband teaches and coaches middle schoolers so......boy, do I know!

Thanks for all you do!
My best advice is to seek the Lord for what He wants you to do and where He calls you to be!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I'm homeschooling now after years of frustrations in public school. And I'm an involved parent! The system really isn't perfect, but we have to work with what's available NOW and work for change for the future, you know?

Good luck, hon.