Thursday, November 7, 2013

Don't Buy It (Dear Katie #2 V10)

Dear Katie,

I realized that I must have participated in over 1000 parent teacher conferences in my career.  Over that time, I have heard some sad, encouraging, and rude words (both toward me or their child)  fly out of the mouth of parents. 

In a few weeks, I will switch sides of the desk as I attend my first parent-teacher conference for your little cousin.  I know what questions I will ask or want answered by her teacher ("Is my daughter respectful to you?", "How does she get along with the other kids?" "Is she at grade level in her academic work?")

The ONE statement I have heard on a few occasions that I will NEVER say to the teacher is...

"I am a teacher, I would never (or never heard, or don't believe, etc) that YOU ____________"

Being honest with you, what goes through my head when a parent says that is

"You may be a teacher, but it doesn't mean you're a good one."

If you think about it, what the parent is saying is the same thing I am thinking.

First, I am not a kindergarten teacher.  A different skill set is required for that position that I do not possess, need or use.  Even it we both are middle school history teachers, I have always recognized that teachers approach the subject differently.  And teaching my children to adjust and succeed under people who have different styles and methods is life.  Adaptability is a great thing to learn in school.

As a young teacher, do not allow a parent who is a teacher to assume any sense of authority over you.  Does your principal support what you are doing in the classroom? That is more validation than a student's parent who happens to be a teacher.  

It is a badge of honor whenever someone tells me 
my classroom is not run in the typical way, 
both when it is complimentary or said derisively.

When another teacher is telling you to do things "their way" it does not logically follow that it is the "right way" or what will work best with "your way". 

"I am a teacher, I would never (or never heard, or don't believe, etc) that YOU ____________"

Remember, a teacher who has the arrogance to use this line does not have your best interest at heart but is out to gain an advantage for their child. 

I don't mind if I am asked questions about what I do, because I believe I am competent to answer them. I have taken the time to reflect on what I do in the classroom and why I do it.  You should prepare yourself to answer any questions to why you do what you do in the classroom.  And if you can't, or you realize your answers are less than satisfactory to the parent, maybe you need to think about what you do and retool.

But no parent should believe they have some kind of position of power over you just because they happen to be employed in the same field.  

"I am a teacher, I would never (or never heard, or don't believe, etc) that YOU ____________"

Don't buy it.

Uncle Kevin

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