The new school year is about to begin. As a teacher, I always love this time of year. I spend my summer taking classes and mentally preparing for the upcoming year. I always feel very excited and hopeful at a fresh beginning. I feel lucky to be able to start fresh each and every year. I have many wishes for the upcoming school year. I wish for a classroom full of motivated students. My greatest wish is to have a group of students that have parents that stay involved all year long. I tie parental support directly to student achievement. We give parents many opportunities to become involved. The year starts with a meet and greet. This gives the parents and students a chance to see their classroom and meet their teacher in a very relaxed atmosphere. The following week we have Back to School Night. This night is combined with the first PTA meeting and a look into the classroom, the procedures, and the curriculum for the year. At these two events, I average less than a third of parents participating. The parents I would love to meet do not come to these events. In November, we have parent conferences. This is when I share academic and behavioral information about the students. Many of my parents make appointments but do not show up. I am very flexible with my times that I will meet with the parents. Many of my parents do not have the opportunity to take time off work. I make myself available from 7:30 in the morning until 7:30 in the evening. If they cannot meet at these times, we can do a phone conference. I would much rather do a face-to-face conference; I feel they have more of an impact. With a face-to-face meeting, I can get my point across better and the parents can see that I really do care about their child and his or her education.
As a teacher, I spend about 7 hours a day with my students. We get to know each other very well. However, I have no control with what they do when they walk out of my classroom at 4:00. I am not there to tell them not to play video games or not to stay up until 11:00. I cannot force their parents to monitor their homework or to read with their child. I cannot force the parents to assist them with math. I cannot force their parents to look through their backpacks. So many things are out of my control. I believe that if we solve this problem, the nationwide problem of education will improve. There is nothing better than to see a student light up when their parent comes into school. They are on top of the world. The message being given by the parent is that school is a priority. If this message were given to all of our students, they would make a greater attempt to do their best. Both the teacher and parents will hold the students accountable. If we set the bar high, the students will grab it.
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