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Old 06-19-2011, 10:54 PM
 
31 posts, read 43,678 times
Reputation: 95

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If a student fails, I consider three people to be responsible: the teacher, the parent, and the student. Ideally you need a support group of all three to function, but so long as the student and either the teacher or parent are giving it their all, the student is likely to succeed.

All too often it is the first two being blamed, and the student is not held accountable. If the parent isn't involved but the student and teacher are, then the student is likely to succeed. If the teacher is not involved but the student and parent are determined, the student is likely to succeed (maybe not in that specific class, but in general). Now if the teacher is trying, and the parent is trying, and the student just doesn't care . . . well, the student isn't going to succeed.

Honestly, I think at this point we need to take a long hard look at making students more accountable for their schooling. My friend allowed students to use notes on her tests, and even told them in class when something might appear on the test. When students failed the tests, (some making as low as fives or tens on her test) whose fault was that? Students had every opportunity to succeed, but chose not to take it. Her district also requires her to allow students to retake a test until they pass, so the students had no motivation to pass it, because they could retake it until she was tired of staying after school and making up a new test for them.

When I gave my finals this year, I gave the students a review sheet that contained the exact same questions as the final, just in a different order. I gave the corrected review sheet back to the students two weeks early to study it. More than half of my students failed the final. When I asked them whether they had studied, they admitted they had not. (Please do not suggest the students did not actually learn what they were supposed to -- the questions came straight from the tests I had given them earlier in the year--which they passed).

At some point the student has to be held accountable for their studies. I realize I bear some of the responsibility - as does the parent - but if a kid doesn't care, they aren't going to do well in my class no matter how often I contact their parents, or how often I have conferences with them, or how often I vary my instruction.

I think a good analogy would be a doctor telling a patient to quit smoking. The doctor tells the patient why, informs the patient of the risks of smoking, and works with the patient to help them quit smoking. When the patient continues to smoke and dies of lung cancer, is it the doctor's fault? Or does the patient hold some (if not most) of the responsibility for their actions?

Should we start rating doctors on the number of patients they manage to get healthy on any given day? And should the number of their patients that die go on their record and be used to rank them so you can judge who is most effective? Should we evaluate the number of their healthy patients in each subpopulation, and if most of their poor patients have health problems, dock them a rating for that subpopulation?

The bottom line is that the system - as it stands - is deeply flawed and simply blaming everyone else for the problems or whining about them will change absolutely nothing. Most teachers are doing the best they can and it is completely disheartening to constantly be bashed from all fronts. I really appreciate the parents who want the best for their students and are an equal partner in helping me educate their child. I imagine most of the parents on here fall into that category, and I am grateful for any help I can get.

I can also speak from experience that not all parents are that supportive. I have had parents hang up on me after telling me not to call them unless their child was dying (gee, no wonder I was having problems with the daughter treating me with respect). I have heard stories of parental abuse that made me weep and lose sleep for weeks (unfortunately the child was over 18 by the time she confided in me). So yes, there are crappy parents out there that don't give a damn, and their awfulness makes it hard to remember that there are a lot of parents who do care.

. I love my students and try hard to help them succeed. I've saved every note a student has ever given me and reread them when times get tough - which is often. I honestly don't know that I can stick with it much longer, and it makes me sad because I know I am making a difference - I've had several kids tell me I was the only person who believed in them - but I just don't know that I can handly the constant crap from all directions much longer. I know a lot of other amazing teachers who feel the same way. It makes me very worried for the future of the education system - and the future of our children - if they don't begin to learn responsibility for their actions.
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:10 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
20 posts, read 33,477 times
Reputation: 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
Likewise, parents need to approach teachers as members of the team, and not adversaries. It works both ways.
Finally some sense...though it could be more common in this thread. When our agent provocateur (Jennifer5221) started a thread proposing to lay blame, it was no surprise to me that so many felt compelled by the opportunity to do so. But that is not what we need.

I am a high school science teacher. With four years under my belt, I am fairly new to the profession. But this is my fourth career. I feel a twinge when people malign my profession - but I realize that they aren't talking about me specifically (it's also way better than when I was a lawyer). I devote myself to my craft and put in the extra time to improve what I do every year. I am not alone in doing this. But more teachers could do more. No honest person with more than a few synapses could think otherwise.

I am a parent. My two ADHD kids needed a lot of TLC and never quite developed the dedication that I would have liked. Partly my fault no doubt. Partly their nature. They realize that now.

As a teacher, I see several students from the same families. They often share the same abilities/problems with other siblings. I can't say whether their qualities are due to nature or nurture (which is likely coupled to nature). But I have so far had only a very limited ability to change them.

However, I have a greater ability to help them change than most teachers. Not because I am so wonderful (not the case) but because I will have each of them for at least three science classes in their high school career. I can work on them gradually beginning in 9th grade and continue through at least their junior year. It is the relationship that can be built in a small school.

Of course, positive relationships should begin at home. Parents with a difficult nature need to work harder on the nurture. Parents need to set the example even if it is of the "do as I say, not as I have done" variety. It is not easy. Sometimes, it may not even be possible.

Before I forget and let my creeping senility pull my thoughts away, students have a lot to do with their education too. They need to be able to put off the distractions that are so pervasive and focus. That takes strength of character for a willingness to resist the inevitable peer pressure to slide (until the peers also change their approach to life). If students do that, virtually all should be able to pass the standardized tests and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

If you are an actor in the process and tend to slide - shame! You know who you are. We can each set the stage for success or slide into failure. We can...

Last edited by Marty3d; 06-19-2011 at 11:35 PM.. Reason: small correction
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Old 06-20-2011, 05:52 AM
 
608 posts, read 1,148,650 times
Reputation: 463
It's all the parents, and its start at a young age. They CREATE the environment at home which places education first and everything else second. That is the key to success.
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Old 06-20-2011, 06:23 AM
 
613 posts, read 807,669 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post

Unfortunately, the time to let children learn these lessons is in middle school. When grades aren't calculated in your high school GPA. So, parents, when your child enters middle school, quit hovering. Let them succeed of fail on their own. The lessons from that experience they will take with the to high school will be priceless.
That's the ticket!! Let them sink or swim at AGE ELEVEN!
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Old 06-20-2011, 06:27 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,702,140 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arrgy View Post
It's all the parents, and its start at a young age. They CREATE the environment at home which places education first and everything else second. That is the key to success.
This is the heart of why other countries can teach to high levels and we can't. Our students view education not as a privilidge and a means to better themselves but as something forced upon them they must endure. Parents have the power to instill a love of learning. They have the power to teach their children to value education by modeling valuing of education.
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Old 06-20-2011, 06:34 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,702,140 times
Reputation: 14495
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Originally Posted by wsop View Post
That's the ticket!! Let them sink or swim at AGE ELEVEN!
I'm serious. Failure is recoverable in middle school. The ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again is a valuable life skill. When would you have them learn it? In high school when GPA's will be used to determine college admission and scholarship opportuntities? In college when GPA determines if you get to stay in a program or get a job when you graduate? The pricetag for learning this lesson goes up exponentially after middle school. So, yes, let them sink or swim at age 11 and help them learn to swim if they happen to sink. They'll thank you for it later.

We left our 12 year old on her own this year (first year of high school but it counts as middle school for her). She said to me just the other day that she did what she's always done and it doesn't work at this level. She figured out on her own as she moves up, she has to do more to succeed. She has a plan for next year when GPA counts and it's HER plan. She didn't even consult me. She didn't have to. She skinned her knees this year and learned how not to skin them next year.

IMO, the purpose of middle school (it doesn't seem to really have a purpose ) should be to make sure kids are ready to succeed in high school and, yes, that means giving them enough rope to hang themselves by, followed by second chances. GPA doesn't count in middle school. So, yes, middle school is the time to screw up and learn the hard way. I think we need an A, B, I grading scale in middle school. You either earn an A or B the first time or you get an I until you earn a B. Students should have to redo anything they don't learn well enough the first time. They should have to prove mastery before getting credit.
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:46 PM
 
12,425 posts, read 14,553,508 times
Reputation: 14122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer5221 View Post
As a teacher (and parent) it is getting hard to understand why low test scores are blamed on the teachers...where are the parents!
Usually working...and trusting that you(the professionals) will teach their kids the basics...is that too much to ask?
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:01 PM
 
15,743 posts, read 13,171,628 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Oh yeah, that's different, that's different, that's different. We see probably 100 kids a day in our office. But that's different, that's different, that's different.

When DO you talk to these parents you abhor, then? How do you know you should even abhor them if you don't talk to them?

I'll try another example, though it's probably a waste of time with some thick skulls on this thread.

A kid is missing lots of class time due to participation in sports every season. The parent thinks that's what's "best" for the kid. Instead of adopting an attitude of "these idiot parents", perhaps, AT CONFERENCE TIME or SOME OTHER SCHEDULED PARENT-TEACHER TIME, you could point out that the time missed from class seems to be making it difficult for the student to keep up. You never know when something you say will make an impression.

But I'm probably wrong. Several posters have pointed out to me that parents DON"T want what's best for their kids, complete with links, just in case this stuff isn't happening in my community. And after all, that's different, that's different, that's different. Teachers have the hardest jobs of anyone, no one understands them, etc, etc, etc.
1. I don't think its that parents don't want what is best for their children but rather they think sports, vacations, etc are more important than all the little things that add up to their education.

2. As for conferences, most high school have exactly 1 set of conferences if that at all. And many parents cannot or willnot attend those. I also dislike calling parents because three times this year I have had to call one parent and they literally took my entire lunch hour. And while this has soured me on calling parents in general I also realize its a small portion of parents.

Just today I talked to a parent of a freshman who some of the teachers have agreed to help tutor (for free) over the summer so she can return next year to our school. The parent seemed aggravated about the need to work around the teachers schedule and was not remotely grateful that three teachers are giving up 15 days in the summer to help this child. That is when things become frustrating.
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:03 PM
 
15,743 posts, read 13,171,628 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purehuman View Post
Usually working...and trusting that you(the professionals) will teach their kids the basics...is that too much to ask?
For most parents no. But when many parents are not meeting their basic obligations, then yes, it is too much ask. Hungry, sleepy, absent students do not learn well no matter how good the teacher.
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:05 PM
 
15,743 posts, read 13,171,628 times
Reputation: 19636
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsop View Post
That's the ticket!! Let them sink or swim at AGE ELEVEN!
In middle school the only consequences of "sinking" are that you have to do the work again.

The consequences of "sinking" in high school or college are much worse.

Doesn't it make sense that learning personal responsibility should happen along with learning the basics?
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