AN EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PARENT & SCHOOL

I’d like to start out by sharing a few real life and funny anecdotes with you to open our topic about the different types of relationships between teachers and parents:

 

A teacher caught little ‘Chaim’ with a cheat sheet during a practice spelling test. Every week the teacher gave a practice test on Thursday and if they got 100% they didn’t have to take the ‘real’ test on Friday. The teacher spoke to the boy about his cheat sheet and told his Mom about it and made sure that they both knew that he was not to cheat the next day on the test.  The next day, the teacher got a note from Mom saying that it was her fault because she had praised him too much the week before when he got 100% on the spelling test.  She said she had given him the test at home and he got 100% so the teacher should just give him 100% without him taking it over. HELICOPTER PARENTING/OVER INVOLVED

 

Every Tuesday, test folders go home for parents to look over, sign and return on Wednesday.  One parent sent it to the teacher the next day with a note that she was unable to sign it because she could not find something to sign it with.  EXCUSES PARENT (DEFENSIVE)

 

A few years ago a mother called the teacher to say that her child had strep throat and the doctor said she had to be out of school until she had taken the antibiotic and was fever free for at least 24 hours. The teacher thanked her for letting her know. Then the parent said, “She’ll still get her perfect attendance award at the end of the year, won’t she?” The teacher responded: said, “Well, no, not if she has to be absent.” The mother got all huffy and said, “I can’t believe you all count kids absent when they’re sick!” then she hung up on me. UNREALISTIC/PERFECTIONIST

 

I got a note from a parent that said, “I’d like to know why my son lost his recess yesterday so I can inform my lawyer.” (DEMANDING)

 

And one more:

Mrs. Greenberg arrived for her daughter's parent-teacher conference, the teacher appeared to be a little flustered, especially when she started telling Mrs. Greenberg that her little girl didn't always pay attention in class and, at times, was a little flighty.

"For example, sometimes she'll do the wrong page in her workbook," explained the teacher, "and I've even found her sitting at the wrong desk."

"I don't understand any of that," replied Mrs. Weinberg defensively. "Where could she have gotten that?"

The teacher went on to assure Mrs. Weinberg that her daughter was still doing fine in school and was a sweet and likeable little girl. After pausing for a moment, she added, "By the way, Mrs. Greenberg, our appointment was for tomorrow." (ABSENT or ABSENT MINDED)

 

We’ve just identified five archetypal negative parenting styles.  Can anyone label any of these five archetypes?

Can anyone give an example a parenting type that we just heard about?

Five types of (negative) parents:

  1. Over involved- helicopter. 

  2. Absent minded/disorganized- don’t pick up the phone or answer an email when teacher calls

  3. Demanding/uncooperative

  4. Defensive/excuse maker

  5. Unrealistic/perfectionistic

 

These are examples of things we hear of what parents want from teachers.  And while that is important, after all you are parents, I’m going to turn this discussion on its head and we are going to determine, what do teachers want from parents?

There was a recent show on CNN that explored this very topic.  Award-winning teacher in Atlanta, Mr. Ron Clark, identified 4 main things that teachers want parents to know.  I am going to paraphrase some of these points from his work.

  1. Teachers are educators, not nannies.  Remember that teachers sometimes see your children in a different light than you do.  Don’t dismiss off the cuff constructive criticism from a teacher.  It may be just the advice needed to allay future concerns.

 

A good example is a teacher telling a parent that her son behaved inappropriately at school and the mother turns to the child and says: ‘is that true?”.Think about that scenario for a moment.You are demeaning the teacher’s relationship with her students and weakening her ability to be effective if you question her like that, especially in front of her student.

 

  1. Teachers don’t want to hear excuses

Helicopter parenting

Not making your children responsible for their own actions just raises the chances that your child will be 25 years old and jobless and hanging out on your sofa eating potato chips or potato kugel.

 

  1. Teachers are looking for a partner instead of a prosecutor

It is OK for your kids to periodically get into trouble or not be perfect.This is where we learn to build character.Is there anyone in this room who hasn’t learned a life lesson in a difficult way?I can name quite a few of my own.

Don’t fight the teacher if your child gets a 79% on a test.It is better that teachers give honest grades, not the other way around. Think back to our example at the beginning when we mentioned about a parent hiring a lawyer for his or her child to defend against the ‘unfair’ teacher.

 

  1. Teachers deserve not to be walking on eggshells

Many of you are familiar with the book ‘walking on eggshells by Paul Mason MS and Randi Kreger that describes what it is like to be married to someone who has a certain personality disorder where they need to be right all the time and the need for control is pathological.The message of the book is:

 

I think since we are a Jewish school, I would like to talk about a Jewish perspective that we can have in a a mutually satisfying parent-teacher relationship. The concept of Dan l/chaf z/chus? Giving the benefit of the doubt.

In psychological terms, it is called reframing.Taking a negative thought and looking at things from a positive approach or at least more neutral place instead.

 

Here is an example that illustrates both points- dan l/chaf z’chus and reframing.

Let’s say a parent is very angry and wants to talk to a teacher.Instead of attacking the staff member because their kid came home complaining about something that the teacher ‘did’, how about the following intervention:

 

” I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class.I know sometimes children can exaggerate and that there is often two sides to a story.I was hoping that you could shed some light for me.”What a different approach.

From these five types of negative parenting, we can learn the signs of positive parenting.  Here are five positive forms of parenting:

  • keep the school informed about child’s strengths and challenges

ex: reviewing your child’s homework nightly

  • voice concerns and suggestions in an appropriate and timely manner

ex: responding to a teacher’s message

Easy going: supporting and helping implement school policy

ex: trusting the teacher to do his or her job in educating your child

Open minded: allowing for alternative opinions and perspectives

ex: I am not familiar with that way of doing it so I don’t know if I like it, but I’m going to give it a try

  • provide assistance which the child needs for success and communicate honestly about his or her efforts and concerns

ex: parent is cooperative when the teacher asks parent to lay off of the homework for the week to see if the child is motivated to do it on her own (joining)

 

Which parent are YOU?

Here are a couple of additional points:

  • Your child’s teacher is the second most important person in your child’s life other than parents, hopefully.  Teachers are not simply providing grades for your child’s report card, they are also offering a rich, supportive learning experience.  Included in a school experience are such lessons like developing curiosity, coping with failure, navigating the social environment, dealing with mistakes, fostering creativity, to name a few

  • Try not to brag – Of course your child is brilliant.  You may be unconsciously giving the teacher the message that they are somehow not capable of teaching your child since they are so smart.

  • Don’t project how you liked or disliked your teachers onto your children’s teachers-Leave the baggage of your childhood with your own parents!

  • Let your child develop his or her own relationship with the teacher

So I’d like to quote Nochum Kaplan in his writing on School-Parent Communications explains how school and home run on two parallel railroad tracks; these tracks are apart from one another yet always run parallel.  If the tracks went off into different directions, it would derail the train.

  • Likewise, school and home both run on parallel tracks.  Each are independent, each are important, and if one veers into a different direction, it derails the child.

  • Each role of school and home needs to complement one another for the success of the student, and to maintain their parallel course, each needs to share the same objectives and goals.

So let’s use this as a segue to talk a little bit about YCQ:

What are these goals for us here at YCQ as a school and as parents?

Well I think the YCQ Mission Statement states it excellently.  Let’s go over it:

YCQ Mission Statement: We provide innovative, stimulating and diverse learning opportunities in a nurturing atmosphere. A close relationship between home and school is encouraged to maximize the potential of each child.

Included in this mission is:

  • We will share in the responsibility of your child’s success

  • Make calls and follow through on phone calls and emails when necessary

  • Talk with each other not about each other (according to Kevin Swick in his book Building Successful Parent-Teacher Partnerships) – Be open to communicate in a clear and respectful manner. IN an inclusive and instructional way

As in other partnerships whether in our marriages, careers, or friendships, it is all about assertive communication, this means you proactively communicate your needs while respecting the other person’s right to his or her own opinion even if it differs from your own.  As partners, it is incumbent on the school and the parents to have this open, assertive communication.

Here’s a humorous and profound agreement that we can make with communication:


And let’s end with this beautiful poem written by an anonymous teacher who helps us solidify the perspective we all aspire to share when it comes to our raising our children to be happy, healthy, and productive human beings:

If I had my child to raise [teach] over again

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger paint more and point fingers less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch,
and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields
and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often.

I would be firm less often
and affirm much more.

I'd model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

Be open to compromise and will avoid hasty judgments, decisions, actions.

Cultivate a feeling of trust with your child (In the book, Trust Matters by Megan Tschannem Moran, she speaks about “classrooms as inherently social contexts, where teaching and learning help a child handle risk, vulnerabilities, and interpersonal engagement.  Much of what inspires children to invest in the effort it takes to learn happens in those interpersonal spaces”.

We are committed to the right kind of praise – According to Carol Dweck, if we tell Shira she is smart, she will become less interested in trying difficult things and risk little in order to maintain that praise label of “smart.” If we praise Shira’s efforts, she will likely embrace more challenges and work through challenging problems.

  • How does this work?

  • Simply: intelligence is innate and something out of a child’s control whereas effort is learned and with a child’s control

  • Practical application: Give honest, specific praise about the efforts and actions of the child

 

Here are some things to try at home (that do not take too much time, I might add) that can greatly benefit your child and that will assist in your child’s performance and experience at school:

  1. According to June Allan Corrigan from “What Teachers Want From Parents,” reading, reading, and still more reading at home with parents asking follow-up questions such as “what happened in the beginning, middle, and end? Who are the characters? What is the setting?” is thee surest way to help children soar in the classroom

  2. Breakfast – according to dietitian Naomi Kakiuchi, breakfast enables the child to have longer attention spans and better memory skills, not to mention fewer health issues and healthier body weights – for optimal results it is recommended that the breakfast includes fiber and lean protein like mozzarella sticks, granola bars, fruit, and eggs

  3. Allow children to brainstorm ideas for projects – let them come up with their own ideas

  4. Maintain balance of schedule so as not to overburden children

  5. Love (saying “I love you” every day) and affection (hugging your child) according to teacher Kathy Cox create centered, settled, respectful, well-adjusted children

To conclude, here are some takeaways that can allow the school-parent partnership to thrive:

  1. Assertive, honest, respectful communication between school and parents

  2. Involvement in the child’s work both in and out of the classroom

  3. Presence in the child’s life – observe and be in tune to the child’s particular needs and communicate them appropriately

  4. Regard and respect for the parent-school partnership – be open to different perspectives, use clarifying open-ended questions when there is confusion or concern, respect one another’s thought processes and unique expertise

  5. Praise and love the uniqueness and individuality of the child