Retired teacher’s letter to parents is hailed by thousands – do you agree?

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Most individuals agree that education holds great significance, particularly for the youth. Despite their crucial role, teachers often find themselves overwhelmed with work and are not compensated fairly.

Many individuals are enthusiastic and motivated when they start working in the field of education, but unfortunately, a significant number of them end up feeling disillusioned and burnt out. They face numerous challenges, and some of them believe that specific factors contribute to their burnout. Interestingly, parents of the students often become the recipients of their complaints.

A retired teacher’s opinion piece, published in a newspaper in 2017, has gained immense popularity online. Since its publication, numerous current teachers facing difficulties in the classroom have expressed their agreement with the article’s credibility.

Parents are the problem

Lisa Roberson wrote this letter in the Augusta Chronicle, and her words are still causing a discussion about who is responsible for the problems in the education system. With the impact of the pandemic, online classes, and students unfamiliar with traditional school environments, Roberson’s article might have an even greater significance.

Starting off as a retired teacher, I am tired of individuals who lack knowledge about public schools or have not been in a classroom lately making decisions on how to improve our education system. The issue lies with parents, not the teachers.

She says that parents are failing to prepare their children for learning. They are not teaching them manners, respect, or how to interact with others. Children show up to school with expensive shoes but without basic supplies like pencils and paper. Teachers end up buying these supplies themselves. When schools are not doing well, it’s important to consider the involvement of parents and students. Do parents attend school events? Do they communicate with teachers often?

She inquires whether parents make sure their children bring the necessary supplies to school and complete their homework consistently. “…Are the students attentive in class, or do they cause disruptions? When considering these aspects, it becomes evident that it is not the schools that are failing, but rather the parents,” she asserts. “Teachers cannot fulfill their responsibilities and the parents’ responsibilities. Unless parents take responsibility and fulfill their role, there won’t be any improvement!”

The Parent-Teacher Relationship

In an ideal world, educators and parents would work together seamlessly. However, the reality is quite different, especially in light of the pandemic. The lockdowns have forced parents to closely oversee their children’s education.

It sparked many discussions on topics such as vaccination policies, gender identity, race theory, school closures, mask mandates, and other controversial political issues that continued for an extended period of time.

When you think about it, educators and parents ultimately have the same objective: providing children with a strong education that will set them up for success in the future. Teachers need to pass on this knowledge, sometimes by thinking outside the box to engage and inspire their students. Likewise, parents must make sure their kids have the necessary skills for effective learning before they even step foot in school.

Part of this can involve instructing them on the importance of following classroom rules, finishing their tasks, being on time, and more.

Parents may face challenges in actively participating in their children’s education due to various reasons. Conversely, overly involved parents can also create additional difficulties, and sometimes even more so.

Scott A. Roth, PsyD, a certified school psychologist from New Jersey, suggests that while ghost parenting may affect some students, helicopter parenting is likely more influential in the issues we are facing today.

Many of our children have never experienced disappointment or frustration because their parents always step in to shield them from it. As a result, a child may struggle to believe in their own ability to overcome challenges.

Managing the parent-teacher relationship has become increasingly challenging. Throughout the pandemic, certain students have fallen considerably behind their classmates. The shortage of teachers has only worsened the exhaustion and burnout felt by those who continue to teach. Numerous individuals argue that children’s behavior has deteriorated since the pandemic, rendering previous routines and strategies ineffective.

Brandi David, MEd, a Florida-based K-8 educator specializing in mathematics and development editor for Hand2Mind, acknowledges the significant disruption that students, teachers, and their families experienced due to the pandemic. Even in states where schools remained open, the routines at home were still affected, which can be particularly challenging for young minds to understand.

Relationships matter

Brandi David, MEd, an educator from Florida who specializes in mathematics and works as a development editor for Hand2Mind, recognizes the considerable impact that the pandemic had on students, teachers, and their families. Even in states where schools were open, the daily routines at home were still disrupted, which can pose a particular challenge for young minds to comprehend.

Schools should focus on enhancing areas such as inequity, teaching life skills, technology integration, and more, as suggested by Patricia A. Edwards, Ph.D., a renowned professor at Michigan State University who specializes in promoting literacy learning and development for families of color.

Dr. Edwards mentions that in order to address these criticisms, various education reform initiatives are currently in progress. These efforts are centered around updating the curriculum, implementing personalized learning, integrating more technology, and moving away from standardized testing. The goal of these changes is to ensure that K-12 education is better suited to meet the evolving needs of today’s world.

Collaboration between parents and teachers is essential to maximize children’s education. According to David, maintaining a strong partnership with parents is key to holding students accountable for their actions. Teachers should communicate with parents about strategies being implemented, like using a calming corner, teaching breathing techniques, and providing chances for behavior correction.

Dr. Roth emphasizes the importance of relationships, stating that students who feel safe and supported are more likely to excel academically. Additionally, teachers who establish strong connections with their students experience fewer behavioral issues in the classroom.

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