Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Creating a Generation of Helpless Enabled Children

As educators, we always want the best for our students and to see students work hard to achieve lifelong success and personal growth. Parents, of course, want the same thing. Unfortunately, many of them today believe the best way to raise their children is by treating them as equals and "friends" who call the shots and make their own decisions. While there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to get along with one's children all the same, it is certainly not realistic, especially as a child enters the turbulent, unpredictable, and often stressful stage of adolescence.

My students' parents run the gamut from not being involved or home at all to being a complete helicopter hovering over every detail of their lives. Another recent trend in parenting I have witnessed is a distinct group of enablers who give their children everything, only want to keep the peace and get along, and refuse to be the strict disciplinarians and disseminators of tough love all teenagers need. The result? Entitled, spoiled, and ungrateful young adolescents who think the world should be handed to them on a silver platter and do not understand the true value of good, honest hard work. These children do not receive the kind of tough love and firm limits at home they so desperately crave. Consequently, they come to school expecting everything to be easy and assuming their teachers will be "easy" on them too.

I certainly do not mean to berate today's parents, especially because I am not yet a parent myself. Nonetheless, teaching over 120 students per day for the past several years has allowed me a unique perspective into our new generation of students as people, learners, and consumers. Anyone who has studied adolescent development knows about the rollercoaster of emotions, decisions, peer pressures, and outside media and societal influences today's teens wrestle with. It is not an easy time to grow up, and I have great empathy toward today's adolescents.

Still, the value of hard work, honest struggle, and consistent consequences is truly invaluable to our next generation. I work every day to be in collaboration with parents to work towards the best for my students. I only want the best for them and the opportunity for them to experience success, failure, hardship, and consequences for their mistakes. How else will they grow or learn from past decisions?

Perhaps this mindset is what made the following chain of emails difficult to read this evening. The exchange is between my colleague and a student's parent, someone whom we have continually struggled with as an enabler. It is impossible to change her outlook, but we certainly can do all we can to work with her son and not give up on him. This excerpt should be read from bottom to top:

My colleague:

Clearly it is my fault....
Is it me or is she making excuses....I can't teach him individually and I try to give him attention, but he is just so difficult especially because he is never on time, there, or not feeling well.  Should I respond or let it go... I guess I should treat him as though he is in Kindergarten.  Apparently, helping him after he was sick and taking my time off to help him catch up during finals and during bobcat was not enough... I even helped him my only block off during semester one finals to help him.  Clearly it is me.

Please advise...any suggestions on how I should proceed?


Stress interferes with his ability to concentrate.  Try positive feedback,
kind and motivational words.  Let him know that you believe in him and that
you understand he is overwhelmed and you are there to help.  Validate his
feelings and this will allow his walls to come down and you'll get more out
of him.  He calls up frequently before your class and says he's not feeling
good so this means that something in your class is making him not want to be



Thank you for your email.  First let me say I would never give up on your son.
The only thing I can say is that he can get help from [another teacher] during
lunches.  I suggested that to him today and he said he didn't want to go.
This is a snowball affect and we are going to be moving very fast until
finals.  I will help him when I can, but my time is limited.  I hope that
Adam keeps a positive attitude because I know he can catch up if he wants
to. Thank you.

Honestly, I have to say we are upset with what is going on in
my son's life at school.  He has started seeing a therapist and hopefully he
will put him on a medication to help him with his ADD and mood issues.  I
admit he is challenging but please please please don't give up on him.  Is
it possible that he be assigned a tutor after school to help him?   If you
look at his previous math grades you know he is advanced and has done
amazing in math in the past and has loved it so what is going on, I don't
know.  I have forwarded your email to the counselor so she can be in the loop.
Hormones may be playing a part in his distractability and I am hoping we can
all find a solution together to help my son.


I am writing you of my continued concern with your son in Algebra.  He is
starting to really struggle mainly because he either comes in late to my
class, he is absent from my class, or seems to have something wrong (upset
or not feeling well).  He has not completed his homework fully multiple
times.  I try to help him but he often shuts down.  We do not have the time
everyday to catch him  up and there are high stakes for the last final exam.
If he doesn’t pass he will have to repeat Algebra next year.  He is very
capable so I know this is not necessary.  Let me know if there is anything
else I can do to help.

Thank you.

How can we better work with parents like this? Do you think my colleague should respond to the parent's most recent email? I am curious about your thoughts.

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