A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Parents and "the means of knowedge"..an interactive conversation

This clip is from Don't Back Down. First, I love that the teacher gave them homework which asked them to engage with their parents...the homework is from an oratory by John Adams, which is the cherry on top.

A buddy asked me a question this afternoon and I've been thinking about it on and off since. His 'quandry':
I want my kids to excel more! What is the key? How much parental involvement at the public school level would you recommend? I want my kids to be more self driven! Ideas and thoughts at your leisure Obi Wan.

First of all, James. You are as skilled a Jedi as me so ... There are three ideas to unpack in the quadry. First is The key to getting kids to continue to excel. The third is how can we challenge students to be more self-driven. The question in the middle is what I've been thinking about.


How engaged should parents be? How hands off should parents be? What should a teacher expect from the parents of their students?

I am a teacher in a private school and I'm genuinely blessed with how parents interact with teachers. Are there times when a parent and teacher find themselves at odds? Yup. Does it always resolve itself in a way both parties are completely happy? Nope. However, his question is about public schools and so I wanted to be fair to him and place the question in the context of public schools.

That means I need reinforcements!

May I ask for a conversation? I have both teacher types and parents who read this blog. I would ask for your thoughts. The question is what level of parental involvement is best in most schools. Please note that its not asking for horror stories on either side. There will always be problems--a student has two people who are passionate about their education and sometimes the lens by which they both look causes them to see different things. And that is okay. But how much makes for a hovercraft parents and how much makes them absentee. What is the balance?

Post your comments below! Please Please and Please.

You do not need to join the blog to respond--but would you please give your first name of some way of identifying you?

Feel free to send this to other teachers-types and parental units.


  1. Personally, I struggle with this question myself.

    I have not really run into issues in my six years of service where I have conflicted with a parent who is overly involved in my opinion. In most instances, I feel that parents are not as involved in their children's education as they could be. If I were to send an assignment home, especially at the high school level for them to discuss with their parents, I don't think that I would get 1/4 to get their parents involved (mostly due to the students' lack of responsibility). On the other side of it, many students in my district are living in a "low income" household, meaning to me, that their parents are both (a) probably working ridiculous hours to make ends meet and/or (b) working those hours because of the low wages. With that being the case, many probably do not see their parents or have the type of conversations about their education with their parents that we as public educators would like them to have. I'm not sure that my position represents all public educators, but perhaps offers a viewpoint from somebody in a "low-income" school district. I personally, would like to see more parental involvement in the lives of more students.

    1. By low income school, I just looked, for this year we have a 64% free-reduced lunch rate. Just to kind of show the demographics and where I and my point of view are coming from.

  2. Brian, I think you are right in one sense. My parents are pretty engaged--spending thousands of dollars tends to do that. But I've also seen public school parents who are just as involved. The common denomenator is time. If you are working 2 jobs and the internet is a luxury item, you are less likely to have the time (or feel like you have the time or energy) to monitor the way you might like. A rabbit trail might be how do we as educators help the parents who want to be engaged who are in those situations? I would imagine that that partnership will look different than the partnership I have with my parents.
    Thanks for your thoughts, keep 'em coming!!!

  3. Encourage kids to build castles and not to throw sand.

    1. First, who is this? (At least first name)
      Second, how does that relate to parents and teachers?

  4. I feel there are a couple of factors at play. After elementary school, schools do not typically do a great job involving parents in "school". We get frustrated when parents do not understand or when they create conflict, but I do not believe that schools do a great job communicating with parents. At the same time, as kids get older, parents get tired and leave it up to the kid to figure it out. This is problematic as well because as kids get older, the risky behaviors become more serious. We need to see MORE involvement. Academically, I get incredibly frustrated with parents who do not care about academic growth but care about the "a" instead. This causes one of the biggest conflicts with parents. They perceive their child as being an "a" student instead of exploring what they can be doing to help their student master their learning objectives.

    Teachers and students need to do a lot more to help bridge the gap. Student digital portfolio's and reflection as a part of that is one way. Teachers maintaining class websites, learning management systems, reflectively and professionally blogging, and using social media are all ways to make classrooms and schools more transparent. ANd then, there is nothing like a good old fashioned phone call home for reasons other than when a child is struggling.

    Schools can't complain about a lack of parent involvement but then do nothing to involve them. Just my two cents. :-)

    1. Your two cents are great!
      I know of public (charter-type) schools who have parental involvement as one of the requirement for admissions.
      I hate that it has to be 'required' but I honestly believe that if there is an expectation in the culture of the school it could be moved from a requirement to a intregal behavior.
      I am curious if anyone else believes parents need to be more involved in middle school. I do think that as students transition from lower to middle schools, some parents encounter a new learning curve and so they 'trust' teachers to lead their kids. I will say some of the best partnerships I've had have been with helicopter parents--as long as they aren't mean-spirited and genuinely value my role.