Monday, December 9, 2013

Pushing buttons...

Yes, I am opinionated, but never is this more apparent than when you push my buttons, and there are a few of them. Sometimes they take me by surprise, I won't even have known it was a button, but some are a bit more clear to me. I had one of those buttons pushed over the weekend and boy is it still sitting with me today.

We were having breakfast with a friend visiting from out of town and his girlfriend, whom we were just meeting for the first time. She's a teacher and my husband asked, "How are the parents in your school district?" She responded quickly, "A pain in the a*%. They need to get jobs." Well, there it was, the "button." I did have a response for her on this, but I really kept it pretty tame compared to how I was really feeling about this very offensive comment, because we'd just met. I did tell her that I thought that was unfair and that these parents are advocating for their kids and that's their job. Here's what I really want to say to all you teachers out there that think that these parents need to "get a job:"

First of all, they have a job, and that job is to take care of and get the best for their children. And though they may not always be right, and they can be a "pain in the a*%" they are, at least 85% of them, doing it out of love and passion for that job. As with all things, it's not a perfect system and not all people do their job well, and often times emotions can get the better of us, but when you think of it from the perspective that they know that child well and understand that child perhaps a little better than you do, listen. All your book learning does not show you what parents SEE on a daily basis. Most of these parents that take the time to come and talk to you and be a pain in your a*% also take the time to help their kids with homework and work with them on school work. They have a unique perspective that you cannot possibly have with 25 to 30 other kids in your class, or more. Our job, as parents, is to advocate for our kids because we know them best and because you can't, because you have so many other students to help and work with.

Parents are hard to deal with, I get that. I have had my fair share of dealing with parents in running Girl Scout and Camp Fire troops, and it is a primary reason why I really don't think I can go into teaching school age kids, because dealing with the parents can be so hard. You have to have a tough skin and know that it isn't personal and not dismiss it either; it's a tough balance. I take everything far too personally, so I just can't stand up to the scrutiny, but teachers need to... they have to. I'm not saying parents should be mean to the teachers, but the teachers should not dismiss parents outright and they should figure out a way to work with them and not immediately assume they are just a pain in the "a*%."

I have to advocate for my child every year because I know that she has a learning disability, but because it's not diagnosable, because visual processing disorders can only be identified but never diagnosed, which is so important in this world of public schools. My daughter has to work very hard at school, and she has to strategize and work out the best way to do things for her needs. She was taught some of these strategies at school and some at home with me. It is to her credit that she is figuring out how to apply these strategies and works so hard to achieve, because school is not "built" for her success, but her competitive spirit helps her be as successful as she can be. The teachers just think that things have "worked themselves out" that she's just fine now because she is passing the necessary tests to show that she is now a "successful" student. When I tell them that this is all very hard for her and that she is to credit for all her hard work, they say, "Yes, it must be hard to shake the stigma of things being 'hard.'" Huh? I have never once in her life told her that things were hard for her or that reading was hard. I know that it's hard for her because I hear her read and she struggles! Still... to this day. That does not mean she is not being a successful reader, she is, but it's never going to be easy. She will always have to overcome this challenge, and this makes her a better person and student. But don't tell me, don't condescend to me that I somehow got it into her head that this was hard for her, and now that it's not she has to shake that some how! It's so frustrating.

So, I have a little insight into the other side of things. The perspective of the parent that knows things but is not listened to because teachers have gone to school for these things and I am "just a parent."

But back to the point... these women and men that have chosen for their job to raise their kids... they don't need to "get a job" so that you won't be bothered by them, you, teachers, need to do yours, and that includes dealing with and listening to parents. Which is just another reason why teaching is the hardest job and deserves summers off ;-)

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