Sometimes out of frustration, sometimes out of happiness, and sometimes out of just plain sentiment, I wish parents knew the following:
1. In every aspect, you make more of a difference than I do. You teach your child so much just from the conversations you have with him/her at home. Just a daily talk about things makes a huge difference. If you show your child how you use what you know, they value their education. Working with your child on homework, school work, or areas of focus at home makes an impact, a noticeable one. (I am planning a post for fun ways to keep your child’s brain sharp over the summer).
2. Grades don’t mean everything. Grades show a fraction of what the child is capable of. I have parents who get worried or even upset about grades if they think are too low. I’ve had parents that will check back in with me the next year, and tell me how their student is on “honor roll” or “getting better grades” with a different teacher. (Note: This doesn’t happen often but it has happened and I’ve seen a lot of emphasis put on the grade). The fact of the matter, grades are so subjective. Is the teacher doing a worksheet in class and then counting that as a 100%. Is the teacher leaving the student completely to his/her own devices? Is it being graded on a rubric, thus leaving the outcome in the hands of the student after much demonstration, sharing of student examples, and scaffolding (this is my main way of grading math and therefore a “hot topic”). It’s hard to tell what the grade is actually measuring unless you look at the work itself or converse with your child or the teacher about it. Please look through the things that I send home, they’re being sent home for a reason and it will give you a better understanding of what your child does/doesn’t understand.
3. But grades are good for some things. I make this point a million times a year with each class: Grades are not a sign of smarts but rather a sign of hard work! Every year, inevitably I get a student who is deemed, “the smart one” by his/her peers. They will go to that person for help or sometimes make the BIG mistake of saying “But even ____________________” had a hard time with it. Oh.my.gosh. Nothing will get my blood boiling faster and ensure a long lecture about how we don’t ever say “even so and so” for anything because I don’t do excuses. I then continue my lecture:
Me: What if ______stopped turning in assignments? Or what if ______ decided to only answer two questions but I know that s/he could have completed more during the math journal time? What if _____ was in too big a hurry to finish his/her test and decided not to write answers in complete sentences?
Hatchlings: S/He would get lower grades!
Me: Exactly. Is s/he any less smart than s/he was before the assignment?
Me: So what changed?
Hatchlings: How much time and work s/he spent on the assignment and responsibility.
So while, I don’t see grades as an accurate measure of intelligence (though they do measure that) they are extremely valuable for measuring and assessing work ethic.
4. Rewards are overrated and often more damaging than good. As a teacher I put a lot of effort into fun/engaging lessons, getting to know my class, giving good feedback when I grade, and teaching to all the levels of learning that take place in my classroom. I have a life at home and only so many hours in a day. If I were to take time to operate a behavioral reward system in my classroom, I would have to take something away from the things listed above. I don’t want to do that. I don’t need to do that. When I put time into those things, it keeps behavioral problems at bay. The students know that they are cared about, they still get acknowledged and a chance to celebrate success, they enjoy engaging learning, and they know what is expected of them. I do see something wrong with rewards (but I’ve already talked about that) but I know a lot of teachers use them. I just choose not to, and I really think that should be looked at. Rewarding with money for every “A” grade will not yield what you’re hoping it will in the long run. I’m just saying.
5.Your kids LOVE you! When we’re making Christmas cards and gifts for parents, or Valentines, or Mother’s Day–I always secretly pray that the parent the gift/card is intended shows such appreciation and joy. I wish they knew how many times their child came up to me and said, “Do you think my mom will like this color?” “Do you think my dad will like this poem?” “Is this a good thing to write to a mom for Mother’s Day?” I just wish parents knew how much their children adore them. Of course, most do, but at least in my classroom, there are always those few that I utter a prayer for–hoping mom and dad wrap that kid up in a hug and tell him/her that’s the best gift they’ve ever gotten!
If you’re a teacher, add to my list or comment on my list. If you’re a parent, what do you think and what do you wishteachers knew?
* Jacy has a great idea for the sweetest Mother’s Day gift for someone other than your mom. Head over here and check it out! I’m taking the challenge.
**Due to another contributor to my giveaway last night who so kindly posted my giveaway on her blog (thank you, Selena!) I am extending the giveaway (yes, again) to NEXT Saturday the 12 (in the desperate hopes that I’ll get a few more entries. It’s not too late, join in on the fun!)