Dear Parents, In this day and age of instant computer access to your child’s progress in the classroom, complete with specifics as to percentage and behavior, please don’t call your child’s teacher daily and ask for an average, at least, not very often. Chances are pretty good that if you can’t find any graded papers in your kid’s backpack or notebook, he’s not doing very well. Please don’t expect that your kid will be allowed to make up all that missing or poor work. Sometimes that’s appropriate, and sometimes it is not.
A reasonably good student at almost any level knows how he’s doing in any class at any given point in time. If they show up and take their quizzes and tests and turn in their homework, they’re probably doing well. If they don’t, they aren’t. It ain’t rocket science.
Your child’s teacher has an entire classroom of students, no one child (including yours) more important than any of the others, and if each parent asked the teacher to send home a daily report, the poor teacher might as well put up a cot and start paying rent because there isn’t going to be much of a home life. And yes, parents ask us to do that all the time. At the secondary level, one teacher might have well over 200 students.
At midterm, most schools send out half-way-point standings. Check your child’s grades. If he’s doing poorly, call the school and make an appointment with the teacher. NEVER just walk in off the street and ask the teacher to give up her lunch or prep without prior notice. (Would you walk into your dentist’s office, or your doctor, or your lawyer, or your accountant’s offices without an appointment? Have some respect.
Please don’t march in like a Teutonic Reichmaiden and assume that the teacher is a psychotic who hates all children and yours in particular, and that your child is innocent, totally innocent, and his straight-A work has been shredded by the teacher so the world will never see it. I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s probably more your child’s fault than anyone else’s. Probably.
Every single night, require your child to SHOW YOU the contents of his backpack. If the papers are wadded up, give your child some incentive to not ever do that again. Require your child to file papers immediately in a pocket folder because you’re going to be looking them over every night. If this interferes with television for either of you, cry me a river.
Do not even turn on that television until this has been done. If there is homework, make sure your child has it finished before the television is touched. Ditto computer, telephone, and any other electronic gadgetry your child has been playing with instead of doing his academics. Don’t, however, deny your children who ARE doing it right just because one of them isn’t. Sometimes, the sound of a sibling enjoying TV or a computer game or a friend can light a fire under a slacker kid. If it makes him vicious, you’ve got problems that aren’t school-related. Call a shrink.
If your kid is an athlete and brings home a bad mid-term report, ask the coach to bench him. Usually, schools do that anyway; sports are games, and games are only for kids who have done the actual SCHOOL part of their kid-duties. A good coach will do that anyway.
Is your kid one of those students for whom sports are all he has going for him? Is playing ball his life’s priority? Help him change those priorities, because his are all wrong. Don’t EVER argue with a coach for benching your kid for low grades. Even the kid knows he deserves it.
I really don’t have to deal with these issues much any more, because at the college level, I don’t have many parents demanding that I change Junior’s grade, etc. I do have a few, though. It’s incredible and really quite sad that so many parents seem to be living their own lives over again vicariously, through their children.
I’m not a mean teacher. I am, however, a teacher (and a parent) who required all of my students to work, to obey my reasonable requests, and to behave. I still can’t think of a single viable excuse for slacking off on any of those three things. Once those three things were mastered, the creativity could flow. Once students learned that I would not put up with anyone who did not understand the big three, we could have fun. It did not take most of them very long to learn that it was better for all to behave in Mrs. G’s classroom, because for those who did, the rewards were many and awesome, and for those who didn’t, well, okay. . . .I poisoned them and buried them on the playground, under the wood chips. Nobody missed them.
That might be an exaggeration, but will you hate me if I tell you that I thought about it on occasion? Oh, so do you. Don’t lie to me.
Where was I? Oh yes.
I also say things like, “Shame on you!”
Because, you see, I really do believe that people are encouraged from a very early age to believe that they have a perfect right to please themselves in all ways, whenever and wherever they are, that nothing they choose to say or do or wear is in any way wrong or inappropriate, and that their parents are the main ones who encourage it.
Perhaps if we help our children learn that some actions and words ARE shameful, our children will treat each other better, and everyone’s self-esteem (you really don’t want to get me started on that topic) will rise naturally, instead of being inflated with bullshit so it rises regardless of what the child says and does.
Also, I use a red pen. Filled with the blood of helpless, hapless children.
Red is the color of “Stop.” Red is the color of “Take care.” Red is the color of “Hey, might I bring your attention to this particular thing?”
Red means “Look at this. Look closely.”
Purple is the color of cutesy makes no never-mind.
Bring it on.