Ron Clark, author of “The End of Molasses Classes: Getting our Kids Unstuck, and Disney’s American Teacher of the Year as well as Oprah Winfrey’s pick as her “Phenomenal Man” recently wrote an article for CNN describing what he claims “teachers really want to tell parents.”
Clark maintain, “For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don’t want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you’re willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.
Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, “Is that true?” Well, of course it’s true. I just told you. And please don’t ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.
Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don’t want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren’t succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.”
At a time when parental involvement is getting more and more legislative attention and funding, Clark’s message may resonate with teachers and school officials who are striving to implement effective parental involvement programs. The research supports it, teachers corroborate it, and parents generally accept the impact of their role in education. Yet, engaging parents in supporting learning at home still seems to be such a challenge for many.
Federal Title I legislation defines parent involvement as: The participation of parents in regular, two-way, meaningful communication involving students’ academic learning and other school activities. The involvement includes ensuring that parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning; that parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school; that parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decisionmaking and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child.
Resources like the New Path Learning Curriculum Mastery® Take-Home™ Edition enables schools to easily extend time-on-task for an individual student at home as a homework assignment. It also involves the entire family in the learning process. Students will also benefit when parents see the kind of learning that the school expects for their child.
Maybe Clark is right about what teachers really want to tell parents. But I also believe that there are parents out there that want to help at home but are ill-equipped to do so. It is definitely a two-way street – teachers need to communicate with parents and give them the tools they need to help at home, and parents need to support the education that happens at school and extend it beyond the classroom walls. Helping with homework, family game night, grocery shopping, cooking, and gardening are all perfect opportunities for parents to support education and incorporate learning experiences into healthy everyday family activities.
Read Ron Clark’s article here and let us know what you think. We are also interested in learning more about the parental involvement programs out there. Is your school or district implementing a system that enables parents to participate more? Or are you a parent who has made a commitment to your child’s eductation? Let us know… we’d love to hear from you.
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