Parents and Teachers: What Does an Effective Partnership Look Like?

Recently, we worked with Alberto Retana, director of community outreach at the US Department of Education, at parent and community outreach events in New England and Seattle.  We heard some interesting remarks. One parent advocate said, “Parents should be involved in developing, implementing, and evaluating school programs.”

We would like to get ideas about what people are thinking about the role of parents and teachers -– about where these roles overlap, and where they are unique.

  • What do you think teachers want from parents?
  • What do you think parents want from teachers?
  • Where might their interests converge?
  • What is your vision for an effective partnership between parents and teachers?

Steve Owens and Katie Taylor
Classroom Fellows, Teaching Ambassador Fellowship Initiative – U.S. Department of Education

30 Comments

  1. I am a newly certified teacher and a parent of two children. I have been on both sides of this issue to some degree or another. As a teacher I believe keeping a continuous line of communication with the parents is crucial. Not all parents have the time or ability to stay proactively involved in their child’s daily school progress. Never have I heard of a parent that did not appreciate being actively included in their child’s daily or weekly activities. Many parents avoid contact with a teacher until major problems occur because they are unfamiliar with the process.
    I have heard in many schools that teachers, at times, give up including parents because it appears they are apathetic. I believe in most cases a lack of involvement by parents is caused by a bit of fear. I think it is quite uncomfortable for parents to bridge the gap of communication problems.
    Basically, both parents and teachers want and need to have better communication in order to work as a team in the child’s education. However, it is hard to converge the two paths. One way to create daiy or weekly discussion is to use the on-line system schools now have. Instead of leaving it to parents to access these sites and see what their child failed maybe it could include a more comprensive system of communication. I think parents and teachers could create a team to solve this problem and actively pursue a mutually satisfying result. Getting input from the students would be very informative. The first thing I would work on is the animosity and fear between the two groups. The culture of involvement must be nurtured and prioritized. Our children need to feel the adults care about them and are providing a safety net when needed in order to feel successful in their own education.

  2. Teachers want parents to co-teach from home. Although that would be a ideal it is not a perfect world and in reality it is an unexpected demand considering the challenges many families face such as unemployment, multiple low paying jobs to meet their family’s basic needs. A reasonable expectation is that there is open communication between parent and teacher. When teachers make a sincere effort to know the family and make a genuine connection, the rest falls into place. Families will see the importance of making sure their children are ready to learn where learning should be taking place (in the classroom). Homework is not an extension of classroom learning but to reinforce what was taught.

    Parents want to be feel valued and respected by teachers. They want teachers that genuinely care about teaching. They want teachers that raise the standards and have high expectation for ALL children.

  3. Everything begins at home. But it must continue through the schools. Parents have to do their jobs as well.Parents indocternating beliefs into their children that are too advanced for even many adults is one of the problems. It blurs the line of rational thought. We are raised in a society that thinks it’s okay to label your children as whatever major belief system you are before they grasp the concept of reality! How is that sane? The reason is because it was done to us, most kids that grow up in interesting and stimulating enviroments that are educational wind up doing well.Maybe they didn’t teach you well enough in your AP class. Don’t condemn your peers for not being motivated to learn. Instead, try to look at the bigger picture and understand why they don’t want to learn. Teachers are in many classrooms, not just high school ones. At each step, there’s something that can mess it up for a student. Often, that something is a dismissive teacher. Having the tenacity to continue, despite receiving discouraging guidance, is a hard thing to do.

  4. An effective partnership looks like this.

    Teacher calls home to discuss grade/behavior and the parent demonstrates that they have knowledge of the area the student is struggling or succeeding in because they have been communicating with their child. Together we discuss a way for supporting the student.
    Parent calls teacher to discuss student’s difficulty with homework/behavior and ask how they can help their student. Teacher shares what they have been doing in class and shows the teacher has noticed the struggles. Together we discuss a way for supporting the student.
    Reality is that neither the parent nor the teacher seem to have time for the kind of in depth view this requires. We all wish we did. As a high school teacher I had 30 to 35 kids in each class period giving me about 180 students every semester, 360 every year. Even One minute on the phone or in email for each student is 3 hours of work. Every day I had grading, lesson planning, remediation planning, and tests to write so beyond the school day I already had 2 to 3 hours of work to do. Contacting parents by phone occurred when I really had to do it, but I did try to leave detailed comments on the computer grading system, and I sent notes home with students (especially for success stories). In hundreds of contacts over 19 years, I can think of 1 that met my ideal. Still its good to have the ideal to strive for.

  5. Communication is key. I am a parent that stays involved with my child’s education and I have had many issues with teachers not responding to my inquiries about my child’s progress or they brush it off as its ok to be below grade level. I am not okay with that and it also does not reinforce the tone I set at home about school being important when there isn’t any follow through on both sides equally.

  6. Basically stated: “TEAM”
    Together
    Everyone
    Achieves
    More

    Parents, teachers, community leaders, and school administration will achieve more if the goals are met with a team approach. Children learn at both home and school. Learning takes place during every waking hour of every day…at both home and school.

  7. An Effective Parent Partnership with a school and or district always invites parents to the table to make decisions about school curriculum and programs for students. This practice must be done with integrity and not as a superficial gesture to appease community. Parents are genuinely concerned and some are desperately seeking partners to help their child not only succeed academically but navigate the educational system. Unfortunately educators, administrators and teachers do not admit that due to NCLB, state standards and new testing rules have created more barriers for parent involvement.
    Parents need a “judge free” partner who will provide clear and concise goals and expectations for their child. They need detailed information on how to read and understand rubrics, benchmarks and testing data. Parents also need time with teachers to learn the math and reading language and strategies used in curriculum. Without these theses meaningful encounters parents have no clue on how to help their children with basic homework lessons that come home each day. Finally, we must utilize multiple forms of communications, in person, on line, in writing and in multiple languages.
    Teachers need to be willing to work with their parents no matter their assets or deficits’. Teacher must be willing to partner with the parent at the best level their parent can provide. However, the teacher must continue to attempt to communicate with the parent and support the student’s progress in the classroom. Teachers also have to admit honestly about their own cultural competency and commitment to work with students of color. Many teachers will not admit to things they struggle with for fear of being labeled or judged about their performance. (i.e behavior management and learning styles of African American and Latino children) Lastly, teachers who truly have high academic expectations for ALL students to learn and become proficient are the type of partners required in our schools today.

    “Poverty is not my name, it may be my current circumstance but it in no way defines my destiny in life”
    Autumn Reign

  8. Thank you, Natalie for that post. I love seeing what is working and how teachers and parents are partnering on behalf of the children. Super examples. You’ve energized me.

  9. In order to “build” a partnership, each party has to first be honest and trustworthy. It is when the trust has been broken time and time again that the partnership dissolves and barriers begin to build.

    All parents should be able to trust that the “system” is built on honesty and integrity at ALL levels. We happen to have landed at a local campus that does not uphold such ethical standards. Child earned a 67, grade given was an 87. While some parents might be elated that their child is passing, I happen to be a parent that grades and test scores mean nothing to me anymore. I look to see what the child is able to do “independently” with the knowledge they have been “taught.” I’m so done with “pushing a kid through the system,” as the end result will be a child that “may” graduate, but will not have the ability to either obtain a higher education or become an independent citizen of society. This type of behavior happens ALL the time at this particular local campus, but it is not reflective of ALL local campus behaviors. Like I said, it starts at the top and works its way down the ladder.

    BTW, I did “politely” point out the discrepancy in calculating the grade given. The reply back was, “Wow, you’re good at math, too.” When the same child recently got a 100 on a test, I went to give her a “high five.” The child’s reply was, “I don’t deserve it, b/c I did not earn the grade.” The teacher had the child change her incorrect answers on the test twice to gain the 100. The good news is at least the child knows that to get a good grade, one should have to “earn” it. This is her 4th year at the same local campus and this type of behavior has been occurring each and every year, so, no, it is just not one teacher, but a gatekeeper who is more concerned with “scores” than educating children!

    Like I said, to build a solid partnership, one first has to show trustworthiness through honest and forthright business practices that are taught from the top down! And, NO, we did not sue the school, but hired a private tutor to work on closing the child’s educational gaps. We continue to hope that at the next school, the gatekeeper is one who puts each child’s needs first and not continue to push children through the educational system without a proper education just so they can obtain high scores. I’m also for abolishing any after-school tutoring program that “teaches to statewide testing,” as that is the other key factor of the current system in place that is failing at the true meaning of what education is all about.

    We are “involved” parents who always ensure each child’s homework is completed and spend an enormous amount of time “reteaching” each child! This occurred at the “elementary” level, where the child needs to build a solid base in reading and math, which is so critical to continue to be successful as they move up the educational system, but where there is zero accountability in place to ensure it is occurring (accountability begins in 3rd grade for most school districts when students begin taking the statewide testing — before that ZERO state or federal accountability is required, basically in Pre-K-2nd grade, for some, it is a “fox watching the hen house” effect).

    Resolution: Stronger (and enforceable) ethical responsibilities passed by state legislatures to ensure this type of behavior ceases to exist, and stronger accountability (again that is enforceable) that begins the first day of a child’s enrollment into the public educational system.

  10. The American public education system has been allowed to self-define what children should be, and be able to do, when they are in school. The American school population has changed drastically in the last 50 years: the education industry’s definitions of what the children should be, and be able to do, have not. Consequently, more and more kids are deemed inadequate in some way when the real problem is that the education industry hasn’t changed much and is still insisting on educating an ideal group of children who actually don’t exist as a majority anymore to meet the needs of a society which disappeared some time around when the internet was first made widely available.

    Most parent education and outreach programs are designed to get parents to try to make their kids into what the education industry wants to have in its schools. It is patronizing and often offensive, especially for parents who themselves are highly educated. It is sometimes very amusing to see the conflict which arises when professional parents – physicians, scientists, and the like – try to tell educators that they’re a few decades behind the available science.

    When I was one of the leaders a group of parents starting a public school program for exceptionally gifted children, we were told that we had stressed and inappropriately forced our young children to learn how to read, etc. Apparently we had just done this too well. In fact, the vast majority of our parents had just done exactly what the education industry said we were supposed to do, i.e., read to our children, give them exposure to varied cultural activities, and the like and the kids were emotionally well off, flourishing and happy as clams. Over the years, we’ve seen them go to universities, become accomplished artists and professionals, get married and start wonderful families, work and pay taxes, and contribute to society in many positive ways. Now we get to see our children, who themselves are parents of gifted children, insulted by the public education industry in exactly the same ways.

    When did the public education industry get the right to define the children for whom it was to be held responsible for appropriately educating and those for whom it was not to be held responsible?

    The same processes hold true for children who are outside the desired “school-ready” box in other ways: kids with disabilities, kids who don’t speak English at home, kids who don’t have the “right” middle class behaviors the system wishes to cope with?

    There are research-validated programs and methodologies for highly educating all these groups of kids. Unfortunately, the education industry didn’t develop them – they come from other fields – and the education industry has been allowed to either ignore or reject them. Consequently, there is significant conflict when parents of such kids do what they’re hypothetically supposed to do, which is educate themselves regarding what really will work for their children … and then ask the education industry to provide it. Poor families rarely have the social capital to force schools to adopt such programs and methodologies. Thus they flock to charter schools and other non-typical school programs when available. Middle class families more and more are choosing other alternatives – home schooling and, now, on line “schools” – in order to get their kids’ needs met in appropriate, quality ways. Parents WILL get what their children need, as they define it. It’s just that more and more, it won’t be coming from their local public school systems.

    Although the ways in which conflicts between knowledgeable parents from different social strata and their school systems play out are different, the conflicts, at heart, are not. What the education industry really wants is tame, passive families who do exactly what they’re told to do with their children at home – not one bit less … but certainly not one bit more. I suspect if the education industry could get away with it, it would pass and enforce a law prohibiting parents from reading books to their kids at home which were above the age- and grade-levels the industry set for their kids. So no reading The Hobbit to a 2nd grader who adores it – too advanced! Why stress the child when s/he will be exposed to it in school 4 years later and ruin some teacher’s lesson plan, developed for a prior generation of kids?

    On line learning will be a paradigm-shifter as more and more parents of all social strata get the means to insure that their kids learn what they need to succeed in this century rather than the last one.

    As long as parental involvement is defined as learning how to do what the education industry tells them they should do to make children who will fit into the pre-existing system, which has abysmally low standards, the trend toward parents aggressively seeking out other options for their kids’ educations will continue to speed up exponentially.

    What we really need is some way to force the education industry to be responsive in legitimate, substantive ways to parents and their children who actually exist instead of demanding the opposite. Right now, what the industry’s “parent involvement” mantra really means is getting parents to say “how, sir?” when educators say “hold bake sale.”

    Little wonder that people, including so many parents, are rebelling at the high school taxes they pay. The education industry acts as though parents work for them … and not vice versa. And then when universities and industry say that the schools are failing to educate kids highly enough to function adequately in their environments, the education industry goes back to blaming parents for not properly preparing their kids. Meantime, the standards the education industry has set for kids’ learning, and for its goals, are so low that when it proclaims success, the rest of the world sees significant failure.

    Probably the most serious conflicts come when middle class parents of kids with disabilities try to get schools to do what research shows is effective. A good deal of the time, these programs and methodologies are virtually unknown to special ed. “experts” because they haven’t read a serious scientific paper in a decade and are allowed to reject those developed by other fields as “too medical” or the like. Special ed. private schools are too expensive for middle class families to afford, so they are trapped in a public school system which obviously mal-educates their kids. But they can often afford advocates and, sometimes, attorneys, to try to salvage their children’s educations. The system is a conflict-generator, almost by definition, as parents who have done what they are hypothetically supposed to do – become truly informed regarding their kids’ disabilities and what works for them – clash with educators who have no idea what the parents and their children’s outside treating professionals are even talking about, much less how to do it.

    Education industry-subsidized parent education and parent involvement programs for such families typically involves training these parents to follow school “experts'” orders, although the school spedfolk are not legitimate experts. This is why home schooling for kids with disabilities has also risen exponentially in the past decade. The system protects itself and is not really there for the children.

    Vouchers, charters, on line “schools” – parents utilizing these are truly exercising their rights to be both informed and involved decision-makers regarding their children’s educations. As the percentage of parents doing so continues to rise significantly, the education industry will – already is – try to control such alternative education systems so as to keep a hold on the dollars that go with it.

    It won’t work. Good, loving, informed parents who are genuinely involved in their children’s educations can’t be controlled in this way. The next decade will be a very interesting time as the internet empowers parents to do their job the right way … according to their choices and standards rather than those of an industry whose time has come … and is obviously long gone.

  11. I wish that people weren’t using this as an opportunity to rant and throw blame. It’s not very productive at all.

    My child goes to a public school in a system where 50% of the students don’t graduate. But at *this* school, which is rated as one of the top schools in the system, you get to see what a solid teacher-parent partnership looks like, and one that works phenomenally.

    1. Teachers communicate directly with parents all the time. Soon after the beginning of the year, each teacher sends home a letter to parents saying what’s going to be taught for the upcoming quarter, making some observations about what the children will need to know, reminds parents about what they should be emphasizing in the next few weeks, which projects, etc. will be due, and some resources parents can use (e.g. websites, math games, etc.). The teachers post homework information on a homework website that every parent can access. They send home personalized notes and emails if they observe something regarding a specific child. The teachers tell us what methods of discipline they use. We know it’s working since, on the first day of class everyone has to state their goal for the year. More than half of the students said: “work very hard not to get my name on the board.” The teachers show utmost respect for the children: they never insult, degrade, embarrass or humiliate the kids, even the ones who are a pain. The kids know that if they do anything at school that is unsatisfactory, their parents are going to find out about it immediately, and the parents AND teachers decide together how to deal with the issue.

    2. Parents work damn hard to make the teachers’ lives more comfortable. We meet with the teacher at the beginning of the year to be briefed on what’s coming up, what we will need to prepare for, where the unpleasant moments are going to be, what the teachers need help with. We organize activities for the students so they can socialise together: parent-child dances, seasonal treats, birthday parties. These are yet another subtle way to create an ‘alternative’ peer group for the students, and who they will measure themselves against, rather than the other peers who they encounter in their neighborhoods. It is in these settings that basic rules about right/wrong, etc. are established and reinforced. By the time the kids get back to school and see each other, they know what’s expected of them.

    We are constantly raising money to pay for supplies, support staff, etc. so that our kids don’t suffer. We bus to Springfield, write letters to the board of education, staff the local student council, chaperone the children on field trips, talk to each other about the homework and come up with a way to approach the teacher to resolve an issue. We show up whenever and wherever we are needed, even if it is while the kids are filing into the building to go to classes. No child is unaccounted for or left to flounder even if their parents aren’t as attentive as they need to be.

    If the teacher says the child needs more assistance with reading, etc., then we meet with the teacher, come up with a plan, decide what each of us will be doing to work the plan, and come back and evaluate how well the plan has worked after a specified amount of time. If there is disagreement about what the problem is, then the school psychologist has to step in, do the appropriate information-gathering and then present all of us with the issue and some choices about what we can do. Regardless of the issue, the strategy is always the same: agree, make plan, divide up work, implement, evaluate.

    If teachers are not helpful to parents ie. spend more time complaining and lecturing parents about how to parent, than coming up with ways to deal with the issue, then there is no way that they can work as partners. For example, the teacher can say, in order for this child to have a positive experience in my class, this is what I need…. In order for that to happen, I need you to…..; in turn, I am going to…. How does that sound? What was it like when you tried….? Maybe try this….because this usually works if …..

    I find that teachers make or break the nature of this partnership, and teachers’ attitudes are shaped by the principals’ approach. Once the principal is a problem, any teacher who wants to have a good working relationship with parents will be doing so on their own, with little support.

  12. Teachers want support from parents and community. If a child is being a problem teachers want the support of correcting their child within means. We all need to work together for our children. We as parents need to come to the school for information not when it is a problem or policy that you don’t like at the school. But parents also need to stand up for the respect of our schools. Not for schools to just want our input when it is convenient or when they need a quota for parent participation at the school.
    I think for good partnership all administration, board members, teachers, principals, and parents need to come together and have a group talk. We need to listen to the corporation and the corporation needs to listen to parents. Because I feel that you have a degree you do not know everything about education.

  13. Parents and teachers need to understand that this is a partnership. We need both teachers and parents to have our children succeed. Understanding that each student is unique and learning styles are different. When this partnership works together by communicating, understanding and building a foundation strong enough
    for our children to become our next doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, dentist and leaders. Our future is our children and we need to be there for them at home and at school. When parents and teachers spend so much time and energy battling against one another, the children are the ones inevitably affected. This energy would be better spent developing ways to cooperate and improve the education of their children, both at home and at school. Both areas require effort and refinement if we are determined to provide the access to a better future.

  14. As a parent of a young adult with several disabilities I find the education system as a whole, those “professionals” within, and the laws protecting it surreal. My husband and I were told from day one, our child who was a surviving twin and nearly 3 mos premature, might have some difficulties. Being responsible people and now parents we felt it incumbent upon us to be proactive by educating ourselves and to work with others to better serve our child and the community as a whole. That meant to us providing our child with “proper” services, accommodations and tools that he become an independent person who would contribute to society – not dependent. We took pride in the fact that we were very instrumental and active in his therapies. This helped us, as parents, how to better understand his needs as well as to raise him with a sense of values, self worth and responsibility. In turn we (parents, friends, family, therapists and education personnel) have been fortunate to have been taught many life lessons in humility, patience and forgiveness by our child (very rare). This stands as prime example as to why it is so imperative the need to work together. BUT (emphasize) never could we imagined that the very people who are key to our child’s education, and in many cases life, some of which are highly vulnerable positions such as teachers, tutors, directors, psychologists or administration would contemplate hurting any child and/or their family. Same state, two different education systems, two sets of personal, professional, community and moral ethics and conduct. Originally from a large metropolitan city we became accustomed to open multicultural expansive attitudes of mutual respect and common ground. Our son and family were easily accepted. The environment was one that provided support and education openly to both student and families; making collaboration easy lending to our community’s success. Relocating to a rural community we could not be more disappointed and dismayed by the lack of professional conduct, lack of communication, personal religious beliefs intermingled with professional responsibilities and lack to duty of care. Instead the LEA places greater emphasis on job security, benefits, and less hours worked than meeting the needs of any student (disabled or not). Obviously the later district is the exception and not the rule. However, as responsible parents we are perplexed why or how for that matter any school district and community could go rouge or at least escape detection of state and federal government. As parents of a disabled child we understand the struggles on both sides but to blame one or the other is not the answer. Education, communication, but more importantly, action is vital to balance the scales. If any person decides as their profession to teach, do so because you want to make a difference. Otherwise, stay out! Children are society’s gift. They are its only resource of hope and our future. Most Humbly, NWOHBUCKEYE

  15. 1) What do you think teachers want from parents?
    Teachers want support from the parents. Support comes in the form of parents teaching respect from child to teacher, parents supporting homework assignments, parents supporting classroom rules, parents supporting school rules, parents supporting child’s attendance with as few tardies and absences as possible, and parents teaching morals, ethics, and adaptive techniques to adjust for and accept change.
    2) What do you think parents want from teachers?
    Parents want COMMUNICATION from the teachers. Parents want to know about problems and concerns before they become issues! Parents want to know things with just a simple phone call, email, or voice mail message. When parents ask questions, they want prompt and quick response from teachers. Parents want respectful and honest treatment of their children by the teachers. Parents want fair and reasonable teacher expectations for the abilities of the child.
    3) Where might their interests converge?
    Their interests converge at the point of partnership. With trusting both parties have the child’s best interest at heart. Understanding professionalism on both sides, the professionally educated teachers and on the other side the professional parent who knows their child better than anyone. If both sides of the partnership approach each situation with the child first and foremost the center of collaboration, a partnership can blossom and be the best of both worlds for the child.
    4) What is your vision for an effective partnership between parents and teachers?
    Collaborative partnership with lots of COMMUNICATION, trust, honesty, listening, and willing to do whatever it takes to do what is in the best interests of the CHILD!

  16. As a parent of a child with a disability and a teacher/professor, I hope what everyone wants is the child to be successful by being independent and a positive contributing member of our society. Giving back instead of just consuming resources. 95% of the teachers in our lives have wanted what we wanted. Those who did not really were just confused or overwhelmed.

    I also think parents want teachers to unconditionally love their children while teaching them. I think the core value for any kid’s success is building his or her self-esteem to a level that he or she believes anything is possible ability or disability.

    I also think both parties have to work on content and social/behavioral skills together to ensure a well-balanced member of our society.

    I cannot celebrate the blessings of good teachers enough in our lives.

    Teachers should be paid more or lawyers less:).

  17. Greatest challenge is getting parents and teachers to understand that they both took on a job that involve being a part of the future of our children/students. The other challenge is while we so focus on the conflicts of why we are not communicate effectively or just playing the blame game our children/students is slipping through the crack and the gap is getting larger.
    If parents and teachers want the same thing then why is it so hard to get them to understand their roles.

  18. Teachers want parents to be responsible. This means read to your child at night, go over homework with them, attend school functions and value education. Teachers would also like parents to teach their children about moral conduct. Teachers know how to teach reading, math, science and so on but values and morals should come from ther home.
    Parenst want teachers to commincate, understand that each child is different and value their child for being different.
    Parents and teachers want the same thing – for children to be educated.

  19. I would like to add:
    I drive a school bus.
    I have spent 5 years being a substitute teacher.
    I have done private teaching for parents who want to get their children back at grade level.
    I have volunteered at the schools.
    I am a mother of eight children.
    I do understand the demands of the school teacher who just wants to teach. Thats why I privately teach.

  20. In my small Texas community I may stand alone on what I want from the teachers in our schools. I would like them to remember that the precious children in their care were first entrusted to the care of their parents. Strong families are the beginning of strong communities, followed by strong cities, strong states,etc… It’s been my experience that public school goes above and beyond to interfere with the parents authority.
    The few school holidays we are granted are often filled with school functions that are required or the students are punished for not attending. My daughter was recently punished for missing a volleyball practice on the Monday of a three day weekend. Why were we given the holiday if we weren’t able to utilize the days off to enjoy and strengthen our family bonds.
    Doesn’t it seem a bit backwards for a parent to have to seek permission to spend time with the children they are responsible to raise?
    Teachers and the schools they work in should be appealing directly to parent representatives for the grade level they teach. And I am not speaking about the small school boards we now have that are run on the good ole boy system that I am sickened by here in Lampasas Texas.

  21. I’m a Washington Teaching Fellow visiting from North Carolina, and I’m interested in hearing from teachers and parents what they have specifically seen a school or teacher do to bring parents and families into the school and help them to be partners in their son’s/daughter’s education.

  22. So many topics, so little space:

    It is very difficult to just “teach” when:
    – students are disruptive because … they are hungry; they don’t respect school; they would rather be playing video games; they are tired; they have special needs; ad infinitum…
    – the powers-that-be can’t decide what’s important to teach and what’s not.
    – parents don’t support the most basic discipline their children require in school (“My kid would never do THAT!” “You’re picking on my kid!” “I’m going to sue the school!”)
    – parents like Lorrie want teachers to teach “all views”. Of what?
    – the powers-that-be can’t decide what’s most important to test.
    – it’s hard to tell who exactly the “powers-that-be” ARE.
    – there is phys ed, music, kids-going-to-Disneyworld-mid-semester, soccer games, health issues, special assemblies, ad infinitum … that all take up precious class time.
    – Principals, superintendents, school boards, the state government and the federal government keep changing the rules.

    Teachers have a tough job and most would love to be able to just teach. But the reality is that they can’t because kids have so many needs that must be juggled in a classroom and because there are so many constantly changing requirements from so many levels. Parents who support teachers and make the effort to understand the school environment are worth their weight in gold!

  23. An effective partnership includes role definition and clarification. Let parents parent. If you’re a teacher, do not invoke your parenting style upon others. You must remain objective and do the job you are there to do, teach. Parents, do all you can to prepare your child, but let’s quit over-engineering our 4 year olds. Parents, hold our schools accountable for results. If we do our job as parents to have our children ready for the day, to learn, then teachers, teach. And teach ALL views, not just the indoctrination of that in which you work for. Collaboration is hard work, so let’s get to it!!

  24. My question to Cecelia: When the teacher calls you about your child’s disruptive behavior, what do YOU do about it when you child gets home from school. Maybe if your child knew he would suffer consequences at home as well as school, the behavior would improve and the teacher wouldn’t have to call you. Believe me, teachers have more to do than take out time to call parents. It’s time for ALL of us to WORK TOGETHER!

  25. Cecelia–have you gone in and observed teachers behaving this way or is this word of mouth? Volunteer your time to see if your child(ren) are telling the truth but spending a day with them at school.

    There is nothing wrong with our educational system except that standardized tests are ineffective of measuring actual knowledge and holding the teacher responsible for their students learning exclusively is ridiculous. When will students and their parents be held responsible? Parents to raise and provide for their children. Students to learn.

  26. 1. Teachers want parents to discipline–not punish–their children. Teach them right from wrong, teach them responsibility, how to think, how to speak respectfully of course but to speak, to accept responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences of their deeds. Teachers want parents to support education; believe that education is good and necessary. Teachers want parents to respect and love their children enough to set limits on their own and their children’s behavior.

    2. In today’s society, I think parents want teachers to baby, to falsely praise and yet to teach their children manners, etiquette, respect and knowledge. Wait, parents think there children are already geniuses so I guess parents want teachers to babysit until they are old enough to get a job and help pay for their own toys.

    3. Teachers and parents should both want the best for their children/students. Even if that means enforcing rules, accepting that not all children/students are created equally. That discipline involves more than punishment; students who do not turn in work are protesting something and usually it is something from the home. Students who act out in class are acting out most of the time due to something done to them at home. Parents should not automatically take the teachers side or automatically take their children’s sides.

    4. For parents and teachers to work well together, parents must think of their children first as their teachers do; parents must also realize that teachers have been trained to teach; just because someone went to school doesn’t make them an expert on curriculum, school, teaching. So parents and teachers both need to come together with an open mind intent on working together for the best for their children/students.

  27. Parents want the system to stop having the attitude of it’s their way or hit the highway. Parents want the teachers to communicate for positive results not just the child didn’t do homework, or was talking in class.
    Parents want to feel needed in schools not just to do fund raisers. Teachers want parents to respect them as educators, well if you don’t act like a educator then you treated with what you put out.
    And finally parents want advocates that will stand up and fight for them and with them for the success of their children, not what the system says they can do.

  28. Parents want “THE” best for their children. Teachers give them their best, within the guidelines of the particular school system. It is fair to say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a parent, I cannot do my job, if I am being called to the school for things such as…he didn’t turn in his homework, he continuously turns around in his seat, he laughs too much, etc. Yes, I do understand that teachers are NOT babysitters. But annoying things like these, can cause a defensiveness to come from parents. It can, also, cause teachers to take the attitude of,
    “They don’t care and neither do I. I am going to get my paycheck either way!” We all must do this thing called, “LIFE.” So, we might as well come up with partnerships, not sole proprietorships, if you will. Our children’s future depend on the actions WE TAKE NOW.

  29. The interests of parents and teachers are very convergent: wanting the child to master skills at least at their grade level. But their relationship is often sabotaged by defensiveness. Parents often suspect that teachers may be unfairly treating their child, while teachers often assume parents are going to be hostile or critical. The two sides become adversaries rather than partners. An effective partnership is one in which each side trusts the motives of the other, where the teacher exhibits caring for the child and the parent exhibits support for the teacher, and both sides work hard to maintain a positive and open flow of communication.

  30. School board members serve as representatives of the community, not just parents, that provide schools with strategic and tactical planning.
    There is a lot of press that says American Public education is “broken”. Is it? I disagree. The system possibly needs a tune-up or updating, but it does work in many situations and for many students.
    Parents want teachers to teach the “right” things to their children. Parents don’t often know what that is.
    The convergence is our future – the child, the teachers, the parents, and all of society. It is a macro-issue that requires multi-faceted involvement and approaches.

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