Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day 92: Roles

Is the role of the teacher to do what is best for students, or to do will of the parents and community they serve?

Ideally, these should be the same and you will never find a group that says "I don't care about truth! Make my child into a servant."

Everyone wants what is best for kids, but there are often disagreements on what that means.

Parents entrust us with the safety, security and education of their children.  We, in turn, utilize that trust to do what we think is best.

When parents and teachers disagree on what is best for students and what should or should not be taught in the classroom, whose thoughts and ideas take priority?

I struggle with this both as a teacher (because I know what's best for my students) and as a parent (because I know what's best for my children.)

There have been many times when my children have come home from school and tell me about activities that I don't think are necessarily appropriate for a public secular school.  There haven't been any hills yet on which I've been willing to die, but I'm sure there will be.

Good advice from my own mother about these issues boiled down to "you don't want to be THAT parent" and "the school system never forgets the kids with the parents who are a pain in the ass."

I know that both of these things are true and they have certainly swayed my thinking multiple times when I have considered contacting the teacher.

In the 272 days that my children have been enrolled in public school, I have not once called to complain, or even express concern, about things that have irked me.

Go me!
"Thanks! I'll add this my wall of medals!"

The opposing philosophy is that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."  If you see something going wrong and say nothing, you are culpable in that problem.

The education of children needs to be a partnership between the students, the parents and the teachers.  All three groups have to work together to determine the needs of each student and how best to meet them.

However, as I have thought previously, we don't ever seem to have the discussion about school in general, why we send kids there and what it means to be successful.

This was never more in the forefront of my mind that last night, while watching a woman with no experience in public education claim that she would be the best at running public education.

When disagreements arise between all of the interested parties, whose voice is supposed to come out on top?

Surely not the student because kids don't know what's good for them.
Surely not the parent because parents don't understand the nuances of pedagogy.
Surely not the teacher because 40 minutes a day in a class of 30 isn't enough to know what someone truly needs.

All I know is that I will continue to do what I think is best for my students in both the short term and the long term.  I know that I'm going to make mistakes and I look forward to learning from them to be better in the future.  I will continue to try to make myself available to any students, teachers, parents, administrators who wish to have a discussion about my methods and goals.

I am willing and eager to learn.

I want to hear all voices.

But, maybe not all at once...
Also, there's no need to shout. I'm right here.

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