reflection, teachers

When Do We As Parents Have a Right to Speak Up?

image from icanread

The last many Saturday’s have been spent watching Theadora try to do gymnastics.  With every glance our way, every smile, every shriek  I can see just how excited she is.  Yet it is not just her I see though, every Saturday I have also watched her gymnastics teacher and seen how her style affects Thea.  You can call her style it nonchalant at best; she models a move once and then steps off to the side letting the kids try it, never once modeling it again.  While Thea tries her hardest most of the time her move looks little like the one just shown and I wonder if she will ever be able to get it if the teacher doesn’t teach better.  Yet I keep my mouth shut feeling like it is not my place to say anything about how my daughter would learn best because the teacher is a professional and surely must know what she is doing, right?

It is not that the teacher is bad, she isn’t, she just isn’t that great either but I let it slide because it is “just gymnastics” and I hold back because I don’t want to be THAT parent who knows better.  That parent that corrects or advises, all in the best interest of their child.  Yet every Saturday I really want to be that parent.  While gymnastics is not life altering, Thea starts 4K in September, putting her with teachers that will mold her for the rest of her life, and that leaves me wondering.

So I wonder when do we as parents speak up for our child?  When do we let a teacher know that there are better ways to teach?  I think being a teacher and a parent puts us at distinct disadvantage because we know how it feels when a parent tries to steer us in a new direction, and so because we are teachers should we just keep our mouths shut if it is not “that bad?”  Perhaps we are just too nice overall to anyone that teaches because we know how it feels?

A recent post by Josh Stumpenhorst has made me ponder just how nice we are as a teachers.  We like to say that we are all great teachers and we certainly don’t ever tell a teacher we know that they should change.  But I wonder; why not?  Being nice to someone isn’t going to make them a better teacher, they are just going to think they are and then who are we helping?

So when do we step in and try to guide?  How bad does it have to be?  Do we keep our mouth shut until it gets really bad or is there a way to tactfully help?

4 thoughts on “When Do We As Parents Have a Right to Speak Up?”

  1. I teach in a different district than I live in, so I am much more likely to speak up for my kids than if I had to talk to colleagues. However, my rule is always to ask myself if what I expect from the teacher is something I do as a teacher. If not I either modify my behavior or modify my request. 🙂

  2. As far as teachers helping other teachers to get better by critiquing their practice, I think the key is to find ways to set this up systemically so that it isn't just unsolicited correction. Constructive criticism within the context of some sort of mentoring/collaboration program would generally be more well-received IMO than if it came out of the blue.

  3. I know exactly how you feel and it's a tough question. I watched my twin boys graduate from high school last weekend and my daughter will be doing the same in another year. Over the years they have had bad teachers and incredible teachers. They have learned different lessons from both sets of teachers. When they have had a bad teacher they have had to find ways to compensate and learn the material on their own. I have very rarely stepped in and met with a teacher because it really only makes it worse for your child. My kids are leaving for college I feel they are prepared to deal with both kinds of teachers. At the end of the day they know that regardless of the instructor they are going to be responsible for the material and have to find an alternative method of learning if the teacher doesn't meet their needs. They also have a wonderful relationship with teachers that have been great to appreciate. You have to pick your battles and my advice is pick them very wisely. I have been a classroom teacher for 19 years. Good luck and I hope your daughter has more outstanding teachers than mediocre ones!

  4. It's only going to get harder for you as your kids get older and have more teachers doing things you'd do differently. I struggle with this a lot, but somethings have to look at it from the other angle. Would I want a parent telling me (as a teacher) what to do better?

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