September 30, 2014

Be involved, not in the way

Posted

Parents, grandparents or guardians can be helpful in assisting with a child’s education. They can attend parent-teacher conferences and open houses to ask questions about coursework or projects and volunteer in the classroom during different activities.

And with the return to school just around the corner, hopefully parents and students alike have been preparing. For parents with young children who are just entering school, it is good to meet with educators or people who already have children in the school system. This can help them know where students need to be to get on the school bus, what classroom they need to be in, and what they should bring with them on their first day.

While we hope parents and guardians are preparing for school to start, and we encourage them to be involved after school starts, there does come a time when a teacher or administrator has to do their job. And being involved with a child’s education does not mean second-guessing or showing up these individuals. If they request assistance, by all means, we hope a volunteer is there to help them out. However, it is still the teacher’s responsibility to run his or her classroom, and the principal’s job to run his or her building.

That does not mean that a disagreement cannot arise, or that a volunteer should shy away from offering advice or asking questions, but there are ways to do this — after school, via email — without coming off as hostile. A school principal in the Sunrise Printing & Publishing coverage region recently said a few things at a school board meeting that we feel could benefit parents who have children in school.

He told his school board it would be better for parents having issues with teachers to report them to school officials immediately and to not talk first to other parents about the issues. This way, the problem would be taken care of between the school and the parent, and not bleed into the lives of other students and parents.

We feel he brings up a good point. Often when there are issues — and not just with school — people let them fester until they are uncontrollable. By working with the school and addressing concerns, instead of venting about things with other parents or through social media, problems can be immediately addressed.

Also, just because a parent, student and teacher may have an issue, it does not mean other parents and students are experiencing the same thing with the same teacher.

We’ve seen it happen before — people at times are more eager to recruit Facebook friends in supporting their anger toward a teacher or principal than they are to resolve an issue, even though resolution could create a better relationship and would be more conducive to a positive learning environment for their child.

More often than not, issues with teachers or principals can be resolved by a one-on-one meeting. Unless a person plans to homeschool, there comes a time when ultimately their child’s education will be in someone else’s hands.

Parents can help with homework, volunteer at school and stay in communication with teachers as often as feasible. But when all is said and done, school staff members will be the ones teaching the students. They have gone to college to study how to do it, and are required to receive continued education in order to do it better.

Everyone needs a hand sometimes, and we hope parents are ready to help out when called upon. But if someone is volunteering to “keep tabs” on a teacher or pick up gossip fodder for a Facebook status, it would be best if they stayed home.

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