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BLOG POST: How to respond when the shine wears off…
I love the start of the new school year. I love seeing class lists, kids with new shoes, clean hallway floors and a fresh start for everyone. I love it! But as we enter the fourth week of the school year inevitably some of the shine may have begun to wear off. Maybe you are frustrated with the communication you have received (or not received) from your child’s teacher. Maybe you’re not sure why the classroom management system is designed the way it is, or why recess time is structured the way it is, or how seating is determined in the cafeteria. Maybe you feel that a teacher assigns too much homework or a teacher doesn’t assign enough homework. It’s possible you believe tests should be weighted higher than homework in a teacher’s grading system or you believe a teacher should provide opportunities for extra credit but doesn’t. I’m not sure what your issue is, but I’m fairly certain you have one, or two, or more than two….
How do I know this? Well, my family has them too. This year my kids are in three different Worthington Schools. By my count our family is working with 19 different Worthington teachers, 9 different administrative assistants, 3 different school principals, 2 different school nurses and 2 different bus drivers. Not to mention three different sports team coaches. Each of the adults that works with my children has a different style. They each prioritize things a little differently, they each interact both personally and with their written communication a bit differently, etc… Some of these adults fit our family style really well. Others, not so much.
Over the years I’ve learned that education is an incredibly personal profession. One year one of my daughters had a primary school teacher that we thought was the greatest teacher of all time. We loved how she interacted with our daughter, we loved the structure of her classroom, we loved how she communicated her expectations to us as parents. We thought she was awesome. A good friend of mine couldn’t stand that very same teacher. She felt like the teacher was too rigid, wasn’t personal enough with her child and didn’t really want parents to volunteer in her classroom. Which one of us was right? I think we both were right. Our kids are different and what we expected as parents was different.
Inevitably when this happens and we are in a situation where we don’t like how things are going in one area or another, how should we respond? Obviously that depends. On one level I believe that one of the great values of public education is that my children will learn to deal with a number of different people and they will learn how to respond when they someday have a boss who views the world differently than they do. So, for most things in our house we talk to our children about learning to deal with it and to meet the expectations of the teacher or bus driver whether they personally like it or not. For some items, learning to deal with it may not be enough. Maybe my child needs something that the school could provide but isn’t. In those situations I could be tempted to post my frustrations with the school on social media. Doing that will certainly bring out a community of supporters who also have their own frustrations and if you’re only looking for support from that community, that is an idea…
But, in most cases, I would ask people to please have a conversation with the teacher, bus driver, cafeteria manager or principal and share what your child needs but is not receiving. In having that conversation it’s important that you are also open and willing to listen to the perspective of the adult at school. I believe our school staff will work to meet the needs of your child if they know what they are. If you’re willing to be open and listen, you’ll often leave the conversation with a greater appreciation for what the school staff are attempting to do, manage, etc…
In Worthington we’ve hit week four of the new school year. We’ve all settled in. If the shine has worn off a little and a situation needs looked at, please schedule a time to sit down and have that conversation with our school staff.
- Dr. Trent Bowers, Superintendent of Worthington Schools