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The Parent/School Partnership
Mom with a View

The Parent/School Partnership

We need to be actively involved in our children’s educational lives.

by

It’s that long hard stretch in the middle of the school year – when the weather is gloomy and the next vacation seems far away. Kids are restless – and so are their parents! We search frantically for someone or something to blame – the weather, the teachers, the whole system! We need to take a deep breath and reframe our attitudes. (Think of what positive role models we’ll be for our children!)

Educating our children requires a partnership between parents and the school. This is why we must choose our children’s school wisely; it must be a place that reflects the values we want to inculcate in our kids and a place we are proud to partner with. If we feel hostility to the philosophies or personalities at the school, our children will respond accordingly. (There’s always one teacher who makes you crazy – depending on the age of the child, I have found it necessary to acknowledge the teacher’s challenges in the classroom while reinforcing my child’s need to be polite and respectful; I won’t reveal my success rate here!)

But in general we need to work together with the teachers and the administration. We need to be our children’s advocate but also demonstrate our own respect for the hard work of their educators and our empathy with their frustrations. “How can I help you? What can I do to make it easier for you?” are always welcome questions. Appreciate the challenge in running a school (I would never want that job!) or even teaching a classroom full of energetic adolescents (I would never want that job either!) and your attitude becomes more appreciative and grateful.

We can’t just shut the door in the morning, breathe a sigh of relief and go about our business.

We can’t just shut the door in the morning, breathe a sigh of relief and go about our business. We need to be actively involved in our children’s educational lives – and not just by paying tuition and/or taxes. We need to show them their learning matters to us.

This is true of all their learning. If we treat some classes as jokes, so will they. This is an attitude that will then generalize to other subjects and therefore needs to be nipped in the bud. This is particularly true when our children are involved in Jewish studies, in learning our Torah, its values and its precepts.

Frequently groups of parents get together and complain about the quality of their children’s Jewish education. We forget how lucky we are that there are Jewish schools for them to attend, how recently Jews throughout the world were denied those opportunities.

The rabbi who married us told us that his grandfather’s family was too poor to send his father to yeshiva. So his grandmother sold her stove to pay for his education. This was in Poland (and you think winter in New Jersey is cold this year!). Our history is replete with stories of sacrifices parents made so their children could study. And up to today where day school tuition continues to increase (and tuition tax credits remain a pipe dream), parents and families are still sacrificing. But we should (try to) take pleasure in the sacrifice and the opportunities. Instead of complaining about carpool, we should think of the Jewish mothers throughout the generations who were willing to do just about anything (like sell their stoves!) so their children could get a Jewish education. Think of it as (quality?) time with your children.

I confess to being a little grouch about homework. But that, too, is a mistake. We should welcome the opportunity to reinforce the important ideas and values that our children are imbibing at school – at the very least we shouldn’t yell at them!

The school days can be long, the quality of the teachers can be uneven, our children’s ability to sit still and process the information varies – there are lots of areas of potential and real frustration – but in the end we need to appreciate how lucky we are to have so many talented teachers who are willing to give (at their salaries, it is giving!) their time to educate our children and so many schools available for them.

Published: February 13, 2010


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Visitor Comments: 12

(12) Anny Matar, February 21, 2010 11:00 AM

Parental support for teachers and school helps a child's development

I am a teacher and have been one for the last 50 years (as you'll understand I'm past first youth) and I know something many parents ignore:" the attitude parents have and teach their children towards those who are "supposed" to teach them, (education should be given at home) teaches children respect to their elders." Not all elders are wiser because of their age nor are they up to the progress in technology the children adapt to so easily. Many teenagers, or even younger, look down upon their elders, who are anaphalbets in their eyes, and therfore don't show THEM respect. Not all teachers are good and clever, therefore not appreciated by the pupils, but children educated to respect their superiors will do so at home and beyond. DON'T FORGET their grand or greatgrand parents might not be up to modernity but they should be respected. Anny Matar

(11) EA, February 19, 2010 4:38 AM

Respone to LS

L.S. you must have some major history with bad teachers. I'm sorry that you have such a negative impression. Many of my teachers besides for being brilliant ( many of my teachers graduated from top colleges such as columbia brandies harvard etc.) many of my teachers have changed my life. Teaching is a full day job, no real teacher ends the day when the bell rings. There is tons of preperation to be done and revisions to be made. Parents to call ,tests to grade, report card to write. Teaching is an incredibly demanding job that requires you to be "on" the whole day. You are at the disposal of everyone critisim. Teaching is a VERY demanding job. I have become a teacher now because of the positvie impact I have seen. Most teacher have a masters and many continue eduaction. No one would be anywhere in life with out their first grade teacher who taught them how to read. How can you possibly underestimate the power of a teacher. Trust me if you were a teacher you would realize how desperatly they need a break.

(10) Yael, February 19, 2010 3:55 AM

To L.S.

P.S. to L.S. My heart goes out to you that you are so bitter about teachers. I feel sorry for you that you had such a terrible experience as either a student or teacher or both and are now left with a sour taste about the whole profession. I encourage you to seek out some positive mentors that you can respect and hope you can find a job that allows you to take some time off in the summer. Sounds like you could use a vacation. :)

(9) Yael, February 19, 2010 3:50 AM

2 sided responsibilty

Being both a parent of school-age children and a teacher puts me in a funny position sometimes. I have to juggle being on both sides of the desk. I have come to a better sense of understanding for the incredibly challenging job it is to be a good parent and/or a good teacher. In my experiences, I have found that most teachers today, are sincere and dedicated individuals. The only legitimate claim against us is that perhaps we're a little too idealistic. I feel very fortunate to have had some truly inspiring teachers in my life, who ultimately inspired me to teach. Of course, I had some bad apples along the way as well and I try very hard NOT to be like them. I know I take my responsibility as a teacher very seriously and try to give my students what I can. If you think about it, once a child reaches school age, they spend more of their waking hours with their teachers and peers than with their parents. From a parent's view, that's a little scary unless you are involved and know what's going on at school, who your child's teachers are and keeping up that relationship,making sure your child has a quality teacher and is aware that they are accountable to the parents. As a teacher, I don't always appreciate that pressure, but I know it makes me better and by extension the students better, so I embrace parent involvement. "We can’t just shut the door in the morning, breathe a sigh of relief and go about our business." That's why, as a parent, I say a short silent prayer every day that my children should have a good day and Hashem should watch over them. As a Teacher, I say a short silent prayer asking Hashem to help me say the right things and have a positive day. Teachers wear way too many hats theses days, hats that heir parents should be sharing in or wearing instead. I try to be the parent my children's teachers would hope for and the teacher, my student's parents would hope for. I don't think I am that unique in this sentiment.

(8) L.S., February 18, 2010 12:19 PM

response to rachel

Ooooh! Master's degree! In education! What a joke! ANd the majority of them only have a bachelor's with a certificate in teaching. Nope, not impressed, sorry. My hostility towards teachers lies in the following areas: 1) Over-glorified. Heroes! Martyrs! The over worked and underpaid...I do not see hoe they are under-paid if they get the ENTIRE SUMMER OFF. 2) The lowest GPAs, etc go into teaching--even you admitted it. So why are they lauded? 3) The majority of teachers I know are in the field for one of four reasons: a)They are pedophiles and want access to kids b) They are lethargic incompetents who want an entire season to sit on their tush and do nothing all day. c) They are degenerates who would be losers in any other field; ie, lowest GPA's, test scores, etc go into the field. d) They are people who want power, dominance, and control over individuals who are under their mercy; they like the power trip. While in other fields a minority is incompetent, with teachers, it's the MAJORITY of them who are incompetent. Ok, I need to get back to work now. Unlike teachers, I don't end my day at 3 pm!

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