The relationship between teachers and the parents of their students can be a tricky one. Both supposedly want what is best for the student, but both sometimes have very different opinions about what the best thing is.
Here are some tips when it comes to dealing with parents (for all teachers, but new ones especially):
(1) Think of parents as partners in achieving a common goal, not as the enemy. Hopefully you are both on the same side of the fight.
(2) Don't let parents boss you around. A parent is not your boss. They have no power to tell you to do anything. They should be able to ask whatever they want, but don't let them try to own you.
(3) Don't fear parents. Some parents will try to intimidate you into giving them their way. Stand your ground if you think you are right about something.
(4) Answer parent calls/emails as soon as absolutely possible. You are not doing this out of fear, but out of respect for them. They deserve to know what is going on with their child.
(5) Keep your cool. Parents will go absolutely bonkers sometimes. The best approach to dealing with a crazy acting person is to stay as unemotional as possible. Either that or leave.
(6) Try to get an administration or another teacher in the room with you if you are going to be meeting face to face. I was very glad that I did this with a crazy parent early in my teaching career. For one, the parent was ready to fight me. Two, if there are no witnesses then it is your word against theirs if anything strange happens.
Teaching is hard enough to do without having to struggle with crazy parents. Follow these tips and hopefully they won't be able to get to you too much. Also, if you work for an administration that supports parents over teachers, be ready to make a decision about where you stand on certain issues. Some things are worth fighting over more than others.
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I recently did a guest blog for Linda Kardamis at teachfortheheart.com. Here is a portion of it:
Teaching is a tough job. Anyone who doesn’t think so has probably never done it before. Many people think that teaching is easy because they sat in class as a student and they think this qualifies them to know what teaching is like. They don’t realize the effort and stress that actually go into doing it well.
My first year teaching was so tough that I decided to quit seven times during that school year. I even told the assistant principal that I quit one of those times. Luckily, he told me to go home over the weekend and think it over before making a final decision. I agreed, and I changed my mind. I was that close to leaving the profession before I even got started.
So, new teachers, I feel your pain. Here are a few tips to help you make it through your first year or two:
(1) Be healthy. Watch your eating habits, exercise, sleep, etc. Even walking for ten minutes before school can do wonders for relieving stress. I am not saying that you have to be perfect all the time, just be careful about eating too much comfort food every time you get stressed out. I know you may be young, but neglecting your health can literally make you sick if you aren’t careful.
(2) ALWAYS try to save one day per week to do nothing school related (obviously either Saturday or Sunday). I can’t stress this one enough. I am a big believer in staying mentally fresh and keeping your teaching life separate from your private life. I know that this may not be possible all the time, but trying to get one day per week free can help keep you from burning out.
See the rest of the article here
Today I am featuring a guest post by Linda Kardamis.
About the Author: Linda Kardamis is a teacher and writer who is passionate about helping other teachers be more effective. She is the author of Create Your Dream Classroom and blogs at Teach 4 the Heart. You can follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.
As teachers, we realize that discipline problems are just going to be part of our lives. Kids are kids, and they’re going to test the boundaries, make some bad decisions, and get themselves in trouble.
We spend lots of time discussing how to handle discipline problems, but there’s one key strategy we sometimes overlook: how to prevent them. Many (although not all) discipline problems can be prevented if you run your classroom well.
To prevent problems, concentrate on these areas:
1. Be organized. The more down time you have in your classroom, the more opportunities you give your students to misbehave. If you’re organized and keep the students busy the entire period, they won’t have as much time to get into mischief.
2. Be interesting. Keep your students engaged by making your subject matter come alive. Bored students start looking for something else to keep their interest, so don’t be boring. Even the most tedious tasks can become engaging when you teach them with high energy, creativity, and passion.
3. Have control procedures. Good procedures are key to success in the classroom, and control procedures in particular can really help prevent problems. Control procedures help students make the right choice by making the wrong choice more difficult. For example, don’t let your students grade their own papers. It’s just too tempting for them to cheat.
4. Deal with issues when they’re small. I didn’t do this my first year teaching, and I sure paid a high price. (I share that experience here.) What I learned, though, is that if you deal with issues when they are small, they typically won’t escalate into bigger issues. “Dealing with” a problem doesn’t necessarily mean handing out a punishment, but you must address the small misbehaviors with at
least a look, a prearranged signal, or a conversation with a student or the class.
5. Develop proper relationships with your students. The more your students know you genuinely care about them, the more they will want to learn in your classroom and the less they will want to cause trouble. But be careful – you shouldn’t be trying to be their friend (that will quickly backfire and create even more problems.) Instead, view yourself as their mentor.
These strategies go a long way to preventing discipline problemsin my classroom. What other
preventative strategies do you use?
Image credit: Flickr user
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I recently had an online discussion with a public school teacher about the recent trend of teachers being forbidden to give zeros for grades. The reasoning is that a zero grade is too hard to recover from for the student. This was her comment:
I heard a principal say "meet the students halfway." By this comment he explained that if a student didn't do his homework or simply placed his name on the test, to place a 50 and not a zero for the grade. He further elaborated and said that teachers to encourage students to meet them at at least 10% of the way to average out to at least 60%. He further warned that placing zeros in the grade book meant teachers would have to begin RTI on every zero for students and that teachers with too many failures meant that teachers are classified as Tier III (meaning being fired or transferred)
This kind of policy drives me crazy--another case of the "wussification of American" that I have written about in the past. Refusing to give zeros means giving students unearned credit. Personally, I think that principal should be fired or reassigned for having such a ridiculous policy, not the teachers that he is blaming for disagreeing. Of course, you will also hear very intelligent people say that one should be fired for NOT having that kind of policy.
When it comes to giving zeros, I like to think of grades as a total, rolling average for a given grading period (whether that be semester, nine weeks, or whatever). So, if you get a grade of zero on one assignment and 100 on the next, then that means you only know half of the material. I don't think that deserves anything but an average of "F."
If a zero is too hard to recover from, then the student is the one who should be motivated to avoid earning it. The teacher should not be motivated to avoid giving the grade. I see grading as keeping score. I don't consider the impact of the grade I am giving. I simply keep track. Don't get me wrong, I do my best to help the student be successful before the grading begins. Once it is time for that, though, they are on their own.
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The practice of giving students unearned grades seems to be growing in popularity. In some schools, it is hard (or impossible) to fail a class or grade. Some places even refuse to give F's. A teacher in British Columbia, Canada was fired for insisting on giving zeros on assignments when the school board made a policy forbidding the practice (see Huffington Post article). What is going on here? Have we gone crazy?
Like many hot topics in education, there are valid points made on both sides of the discussion by very smart people. However, in most cases one side usually turns out to be clearly better. Even very smart people can be wrong every now and then.
Cases for giving unearned grades:
*It might hurt the self esteem of the child. Uh, yeah. This thinking is one of the number one causes of the wussification of America (and Canada too it looks like). Whatever happened to teaching kids how to deal with tough situations and failure?
*Teachers and schools are judged by passing rates. This one is hard to argue with. Compensation, and sometimes the very survival of some teachers and schools depend on passing rates. The question for people in those situations, then, becomes "What is more important, your well being or the well being of the people you are teaching?" It is a shame that sometimes it comes down to having to make a choice between the two.
*A zero and a score of 100 percent still averages to an F. This is unfair! Um, no. This means that you know 50% of the total material.
*Statistics show that kids who are held back have a higher chance of going to jail, committing murder, etc. So don't fail anyone! Hmmmmm. So was it the failing that made these students turn into criminals, or were they the criminal types already? Sounds like a case for Freakonomics to investigate. Using that logic, if studies show that people who don't pass the test for a drivers license the first time have a higher chance of causing accidents, then we should just pass everyone who takes the test, regardless of how they do. Problem solved!
I think the key in this discussion is to look at the long term impact of giving students free points or even free yearly passes. Yes, letting a student slide by because you are afraid of what would happen to them if they were left behind sounds like you are being kind and thoughtful. But it is damaging to them in the long run.
The problem with the practice of passing students for entire grades (and therefore, giving out free diplomas) is that you are weakening the value of graduating. It used to mean something to graduate from high school. It used to mean something to pass a grade. The reason these things had value is because you actually used to have to do something to get credit. When these things are automatically given to every student who gives effort (or just shows up in some cases), diplomas aren't worth the paper they are printed on. It seems like a case of cooking the books to me. The more we let any and everyone graduate, the lower the value of a high school diploma becomes.
We are going down a dangerous road in education if we continue giving students credit for work that they did not do. I know that our system of education is currently being criticized and changed, but let's be careful about assuming that any change will automatically be for the better.
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