Sunday, July 13, 2008

The power of a parent

Parents are the single biggest influencer in a child's life. When that influence is used to describe a teacher in negative terms the consequences can be severe.

Johnny goes home and says to mum Mr so-and-so is mean and says I have to hand in my assignment tomorrow. Mum writes a note to the teacher and says Johnny must get an extension. Mummy doesn't care that Johnny has had two weeks to complete it. Johnny doesn't learn that deadlines are important.

Janie has a test today. Janie says to mum that she is sick of school and instead goes shopping with mum. Janie misses the test, misses the session when the test was being explained. Janie misses a day of school which means it will take another four days to catch up. Janie falls further behind.

Jason's behaviour in class is deteriorating. A note is sent home but Jamie says that the teacher is picking on him and describes some of the measures used to keep him in line to mum - that isn't happening to other students. Mum can't imagine her son misbehaving and instantly starts to denigrate the measures used by the teacher directly to the student, blaming the teacher for the poor performance of the student not the behaviour. The student does not analyse their behaviour and continues to disrupt the class. The class loses and Jason loses.

Parental support of teachers is a must for teachers to do their job. There is nothing wrong with questioning teacher performance and behaviour, but we must be very careful not to undermine authority or reinforce poor behaviour in students. A quiet phone call out of earshot of the student followed by a three way conference (teacher-parent-student) can prevent many detrimental situations occurring.

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