Saturday, September 22, 2012

Double Message

When I attended the middle school back-to-school night last week, I felt like there was something bothering me, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

Was it the 95 degree heat?
Was it the 47,000 papers I was supposed to take with me now that our school is paper-free?
Was it the mwa-mwah-mw-mwa-mwa-mwahhh quality of the PA system?

No. It was none of those things.

But on the drive home, I figured it out.

It was the double message that we parents are subjected to when it comes to parental involvement in our children's education.

On the one hand, we are told that our children have reached an age where they need to learn independence. We snicker at the idea of "helicopter" parents. We shake our heads in dismay at parents who micromanage every step of their child's education. We enthusiastically agree that we need to let our juniors falter here and there, so they can learn from their mistakes. Learn to organize and manage their time and study without parents questioning them, checking up on them, editing for them, doing their work for them.

And I agree. With all of it.

But on the other hand, we're supposed to log in daily to check teacher websites and Parent Portal, so we can get up-to-the-minute updates on what was assigned and when it is due. We are expected to check agenda books as our darlings walk in the door. We should know the syllabus, understand the grading system for each class, and ensure that homework is completed neatly, accurately, and on time.

One teacher even let us in on the fact that she can check Parent Portal, too. She can see which parents logged in, and how long they stayed on for! So now I can add log-in time on Parent Portal to my keeping-up-with-the-Joneses list.

Great.


My idea of homework help can be boiled down to two questions:
"Do you have any homework tonight?"
"Did you do it?"

Why do I need to look up which pages and numbers were assigned? Isn't that my kids job?

I don't know if I'm old-fashioned or lazy or if maybe I just have too much faith in my kids, but I don't wanna go there. I don't think we should go there.

Everyone loves to throw around the words accountability, responsibility, and independence, all the while throwing more of those things into the laps of the parents and less in the hands of the kids.


And as parents, we're stuck in the mud. If our child fails struggles, it's b/c we dropped the ball. We didn't look to see when that assignment was due or we didn't keep the arsenal of poster board topped off, or the number two pencils sharpened to surgical precision.

On the other hand, if we have produced a high school student that can't wipe his own butt fill out a job application or register to vote, we have coddled too much and not allowed him to think and do on his own.









So c'mon teachers. I love ya', but you can't have it both ways. In the interest of continuing my lazy parenting style producing independent thinkers and doers, ask not what I can do for my child, ask what he can do for himself.












Image courtesy: Gary Larsen, via rethinkhr.org


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In case you didn't know it, I'm like the queen of blog-hoppin' lately. It's kind of like square dancing but without the dated outfits, smelly gym, and elderly caller.

Here's the schedule I keep:
Monday: Homestead Revival's Barn Hop and A Cat-Like Curiosity's Monday Mantras.
Tuesday: Heavenly Homemaker's Gratituesday
and Wrinkled Mommy's Tuesday Archive Link-Up
Wednesday: My Life and Kids Finding the Funny
Thursday: A Rural Journal's Rural Thursday Blog Hop
Friday: Deborah Jean's Dandelion House's Farmgirl Friday
Saturday: Camera Critter's Life With Dogs Pet Blogger Hop and Country Momma Cooks Saturday Link-Up

Since today is Saturday, that means I'm linking my post "How to Grow Healthy Pumpkins" with Country Momma Cooks Saturday Link-Up, and "Another Shoebox Funeral" with Camera Critter's Life With Dogs Pet Blogger Hop.
Come join the fun!







18 comments:

  1. I could have written this post, word for word! I could not agree with you more. I felt the same after our middle school open house this week, and ranted it all to my husband on the way home. Checking the website, comparing the agenda to the pages in their homework folder? Um no. Many a times I shook my head "yes" when asked if I had seen x, y, or z already this year because I should have seen them by now, even when I hadn't. I am there if the kids need me, but I'm not doing any of it for them. It's craziness.

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  2. I used to teach middle school and one of the biggest things I fought with the administration about was STUDENT accountability. Everything is heaped on the parents and the teachers, the kids get a free ride 'cause "Well mom/dad/Mr. Smith didn't tell me." When I was a kid I made my own choices (usually to NOT do my homework) and it was my problem and dealt with as such.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, YES, Ann! I was a Nat'l Honor Society student b/c I was self-motivated to do my own work. I usually didn't even get asked if I HAD any h/w, let alone any specifics.

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  3. I don't know how parents who have multiple kids in a school outside the home do it. we homeschool our young children and I feel so free knowing that everything I need to know is under my roof and in my control. They do take a couple Enrichment classes while my husband teaches high school chem and Biology there.

    It blew my mind when hubby returned from his first class of teaching with an email/phone/cell phone list provided to him of all the parents. I get not having a students personal email or vice versa, but we belong to a very large Enrichment program and they have web sites for the teachers etc to update assignments.

    Now imagine these care kids who only get an hr a week with my husband. He told me was warned about the parents. The parents will hound him and it was his job to let them know that this is an "Enrichment Class" and that they are expected to have already read everything and taken quizzes at home etc. So far the kids are on top of things it seems. The parents however are always asking for MORE reading and assignments and additional texts he recommends. Mind you this is the first time teaching and he is a Dr and is offering up what he has to these students for basically very little pay.

    So in this situation it is more like the parents are not letting their kids be independant with figuring the class out. The kids in Bio are highly motivated. when he asked the Chem kids why they took his class they said "my mom signed me up....it was required"....On the other hand his Bio students all want to be Drs etc...

    All I know is my son went to K in public school and had boatloads of homework every night and papers to sign and reading and writing assignments...in K!!!! I was over it in a New York minute....or a Michigan minute in this case:)

    Good luck in the portal!

    Liz

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    Replies
    1. We're in a vicious cycle, Liz. Kids are doing worse, parents are blaming teachers, teachers are blaming parents, and kids are just coasting along not really caring. Ugh.

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  4. I wish Infinite Campus had never been invented. I dread checking it for missing homework, late work and test grades. And now we have TurnItIn.com to see if our kids are plagiarizing. Big Brother parenting.

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    Replies
    1. I guess those must be the equivalents to Parent Portal, Nancy. I love your phrase "Big Brother Parenting". That's exactly what we have now.

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  5. Ann - yes! "I made my own choices (usually to NOT do my homework) and .. dealt with it as such."

    Even my current college does not seem to grasp this concept. I cannot tell you how many syllabi I have received that state absences are penalized and a note from the health center is required in case of illness. Really?! I am 21 years old. I do not need the school nurse to make my decisions for me.

    I'm not likely to be skipping class anyways, but ... it's offensive. And not terribly promising for the future of our country.

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    1. Oh my gosh, Katy, that is ridiculous! If you're a college student and you don't go to class enough, you will fail, and not get credit for that class. That's the consequence, and as an adult, a college student should be able to make that choice for himself. Unbelievable. Thanks for sharing....

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  6. While we're on the subject, I am also loathe the "reading logs". My middle schoolers have to read at least 20 minutes a day and fill out a log saying how long they read, how many pages, and a one to a few sentence comment about the reading. (Also fill out info about the book, title, author, etc.) They also have to weekly make a comment about what they have learned about themselves as a reader. OMG. It makes me irate. My kids LOVE to read. You know what's going to make them hate it? Filling out some damn "log" every freaking day. Nothing like making reading a huge pain in the ass to encourage them to love it. NOT. Given the opportunity, my kids read. They read and read and read and read. 20 minutes a day is a joke, they read hours if they have the time. And what happens when there is a day they don't have 20 minutes? They get penalized? Now they get penalized because of reading (or not?) SO what if they read 2 hours the day before right? It was seriously on the tip of my tongue at that open house to ask how they could guarantee their reading logs weren't going to make my extremely avid readers hate reading? If there hadn't been students in there with us I think I would have.

    The 6th graders are supposed to read 2500 pages by the end of the year. The teachers went on about all the ways they will help them reach that goal. (Oh they have to log their reading into a binder at school as well. MORE WORK.) Their in class reading can count etc. My kid will easily have those pages done by Christmas. It's such a joke. I also wanted to ask that if they read their 2500 pages can they stop the logs? I may still ask that, again I didn't want to ask in front of the students.

    Oh, and the bonus? I get to sign the damn thing every week. Awesome.

    I did my best to stay positive and talked with the kids (who know how I feel about these things) about how it's an easy A. The logs are 20% of their grade, and so if they just do it, they will have an easy A for 20% of their grade which could be helpful. I am working VERY hard to see the positive. But I HATE reading logs. Reading just to read should not be work, ever.

    Ok, I should have just done a blog post. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Sarah, my blog is not letting me reply using the reply button, so I am replying here...

    First of all, you are too funny. Yes, I guess that was a blog post, wasn't it, haha!

    But you are so right. All these reading logs and agendas that we have to sign is just ridiculous. And, guaranteed to get our kids to hate reading!

    Know another thing I hate? Summer assignments. Not so much the concept of assigning some math and reading in order to keep skills up, but I hate how it's a major part of their grade, and there are huge projects involved. Do it like the libraries that encourage summer reading: give incentives for it, but not punishments if it's not done. For example, if the kids did their reading over the summer, give them free h/w passes or something.

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  8. I have kids in 5th,6th,7th,and 8th grades. I am very much the odd man out when it comes to keeping tabs on their homework. I have never, not once, checked the teacher websites to see what the assignments are. When a group of parents are talking about homework, I can only add, "I have no idea what this week's homework was." That or, "There's a test tomorrow?" It's a big problem with parents. College professors and even employers are getting calls from parents to discuss their children. I can't even imagine. All that to say, I'm with you!

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    1. Oh, Coop, I love it! That is SO me, and I always feel like the odd man out, too. I remember my jaw dropping once when I was at a friend's house, and her middle school dtr gave her an essay for review. Mom reviewed it, said she saw some spelling and grammar errors, and suggested her dtr go on up to bed and she would retype it for her! Nooooo!

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  9. I am a middle school public school teacher, and I could not agree with you more! I assume that parents don't check the portal, and I get annoyed when parents call to ask me why a grade hasn't been entered in yet (we do more longterm projects rather than daily assignments). Someone else mentioned Infinite Campus, it is a huge pain in the butt from the teacher side too, riddled with charming technical glitches!

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    1. Ali, it's so refreshing to hear a teacher on "our" side! Thanks for coming by and commenting. Good luck with your school year....

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  10. Wow! My daughter goes to a private school where I go to church, so hopefully I won't be experiencing any of this. ;)

    I'm stopping by from the Naptime Review. I'd love for you to visit my blog at http://www.fashionablysaving.wordpress.com

    Have a great day!

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    Replies
    1. Let's hope so, Susan. Thanks for stopping by. Off to check out yours now...

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