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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More thoughts on subbing...

Parents can either make or break a child's education in so many ways. There is a whole spectrum of parental involvement in the school system, and in my short time as a substitute teacher, I got to see the results of them all.

1. The completely uncaring parent: This is the parent who is not involved at all in their child's educational process. The children of these parents don't have to worry about a parent yelling at them for bad grades, because their parents just don't care what their doing in school, as long as they're not getting calls from the school. These parents seem annoyed when you call them about child behavior problems. The kids never do any better because they are not expected to do so.

2. The overly-concerned parent: This is the parent who e-mails or calls their child's teachers every week to check up on their kid and make sure s/he is doing everything they're supposed to do and remembering to turn things in. Now, an involved parent is important, but this type of parent creates two problems: 1 - they drive their kid's teachers completely insane with mundane CRAP and 2 - they do their children a GRAVE disservice by not allowing them to learn to remember their responsibilities on their own.

3. The undermining parent: This parent seems to want to crap all over the teacher, particularly in front the child, severely undermining the teacher's ability to have ANY authority over their child. They question the teachers and principals at every turn, for every reason. They have no idea how hard teachers work and treat them as babysitters. These parents communicate to their children that teachers do not need or deserve respect and thus take away any control a teacher may have over them in class. Teachers deserve respect and need to be able to command authority over their class in order to maintain a good learning environment for all the students.

4. The nightmare parent: This parent takes being undermining to new heights. They threaten lawsuits at every turn, stick up for their kid's inappropriate (and sometimes violent) behavior, teach their children that retribution is the best way to handle a conflict, and allow their children to be holy terrors. I cannot express how frustrating it is to have this type of parent taking up time and effort from actual instruction.

5. The overly-strict parent: This is the parent who is not satisfied with any of their children's efforts. They put so much pressure on their children that their children can't help but feel completely suffocated. High expectations can be important, but sometimes it can get out of hand. I don't like to get the feeling that if I'm calling about a discipline or grade problem that there may be a chance (even slight) that the child will be beaten upon arriving home that night. I never quite got that impression while subbing, but I could see how you might get that feeling one day.

6. The perfect parent: You never really see or hear from this parent, but you know which kids belong to them. They're the ones that diligently turn in their homework, always give the teacher respect in and out of class, and know what's expected of them at all times (and meet that expectation, too). You wish every parent were this parent.

This may be an oversimplification, and I may be leaving some categories out. But these are the ones I can clearly categorize off the top of my head. I hope I can be the perfect parent, but I guess we'll have to see.

- The Hippy's Wife

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