Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Parents... Are you there?

As I reflect on my childhood, one thing that always resonates in my mind is that my parents were there and they parented my sister and I. They supported our activities and hobbies. They handed out consequences when we did not follow the rules and expectations. We also received rewards when we did meet their expectations.

One thing I vividly remember is all the special trips and outings Dad would take us on. My mom stayed home with us, so on the weekends Dad would give Mom some time and take us somewhere. We would explore museums, go hiking, see a movie (or 2) or even see Disney on Ice. These outings were memorable and meaningful. My parents were also there. They showed up to all the games, even when we were in high school and on into college.

The reason I bring all this up today is that I wonder how many children today have these same types of parents. I coach a high school swim team and out of 26 swimmers I can count on my fingers the number of parents that came and watched their child swim. My students do not do their homework. What are they doing when they go home? Why aren't the parents monitoring their child's school work? I had one parent tell me that his two children come home and play on the computer. He confided in me that he did not know what to do. I suggested he take the mouse and key board and hide it.

I mean...come on. Who is the parent? Why are so many adults allowing their children to roam free. I just found out that a young lady I know was just withdrawn from high school by her mother during her junior year. Now she sits at home doing... well nothing. When did parents become friends to their children? I hope and pray that this trend stops. Children need their parents to mold and shape them. We need to raise children in the way that they should go... but what way are we showing them? I hope it is the right one.

I would love to hear/read your thoughts. Please, feel free to share.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences

Twice a year teachers meet with the parents of their students. Some conferences are a breeze. These are the ones where I tell the parents that their child is perfect. They do their assignments, they follow directions, they are responsible, and they have a great personality. Personally, these are the conferences I prefer.

Then there are the other conferences. The ones that you know will last long beyond the 20 minute time allotment. These are the conferences where you have to use phrases like, "Your child seems to have trouble focusing." When you really want to say, "Your child does nothing in my class, and all they want to do is draw or stare into space." Or "Your child has trouble getting along with other students." Again what I want to say is, "Your child is rude and mean to the sweet children in my class." I would like to tell some parents that their child tests me each and everyday. Sometimes I would really like to say that their child drives me crazy when they refuse to following directions. But the truth is that no matter how I feel on the inside, it is my professional responsibility to keep these comments in my head. After all, I am sure that the parent is thinking the same thing.

With all frustrations and kidding aside, I believe that all children deserve the fair chance to learn and be loved at school. No matter how frustrated I get with the behavior of my students, I know that in their hearts they are sweet and want to be loved. I became a teacher knowing that it is not easy work. I love the challenge that my students bring me each day and I could not see myself doing any other job.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Patience of Job

I have been told that I have the patience of Job. For some reason, God bestowed upon me the virtue of patience. There are may days where I wonder to myself, "Self, why do you put up with all that you put up with?"

As I am sure you are aware, there is no perfect class of children. For that matter, there is no such thing as the perfect child. Sure you have the ones you love. Like the boy who writes his name on his paper and then follows it with the statement: Name loves marshmellows. Or the boy who hugs me everyday when he leaves (he is the only boy who does this, all others simply high five). Or the girl who knows about football (hey, she knows what team C.J. Spiller plays for). But every class has one or two children that can just change the entire mood of the whole room when they are there.

Today I hit my limit with two of my children. The teacher that co-teaches with me looked and me and said, "I can't believe that you have put up with all that you have?" Now my question is why. Why do I tolerate the child that does not write a thing in writing, even when consequences are present? Why do I reward the child who can sit still for five minutes, but the other twenty couldn't stay in his seat? Why do I let the child who has no self control (and this is true... I am not exaggerating here) stay in my room when they are bothering all the other students and myself?

I think I may have come up with the answer on my way home's because of the patience. I tolerate it because I can. I can handle the craziness. I can handle the talking back. I can ignore the behavior. The one thing I have to remember... I am not the only person in my classroom. The other students in my room don't have the same coping skills and patience that I have. So I have to ask... is it fair to tolerate disruptive behavior? I have come to the conclusion that it is not. Therefore... I sit here with a new attitude and outlook. I will not tolerate tomfoolery at the cost of my other students. I will put my foot down (gently mind you, after the broken ankle we don't need any unnecessary roughness) and give the other students the gift of learning.