Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Conferences - Part One

I am so tired of people thinking they can say anything they want, no matter how mean, how intolerant, or how rude. Then all they have to do is apologize and everything is supposed to be okay.

Well, it isn't okay.

This past week there have been three instances of this type of behavior...Joe Wilson, Serena Williams, and Kanye West. I couldn't believe any of the three did what they did, and yet it is not new. In my opinion, civility has been dying for a long time.

As a teacher, I noticed the death of civility starting quite a few years ago. You would think I would have first noticed it in the classroom, but it was actually more apparent during parent-teacher conferences. Now, most parents were well-behaved and wanted to work with me to make sure their child was getting the best education he or she could. If there were behavior problems, they wanted to work for a solution. If there was an academic problem, they wanted to provide help and support.

Unfortunately, there were always a few who were not supportive. I always assumed they wanted the best for their child, but just didn't know how to be civil. Often times, the child's behavior problems were reflections of the parents' behavior. If there were academic problems, these parents were accusatory, blaming everyone else, but never working towards a solution. Their explanation was that the teacher didn't explain things, the teacher wouldn't help their child, the teacher wasn't available, last year's teacher didn't like their child, their child was afraid of the teacher, or a variety of other excuses. And their accusations were often rude and mean-spirited and sometimes threatening.

No matter how many wonderful, supportive parent conferences I had, the rude conferences were the ones that I would dwell on. They truly bothered me for days and days.

So my suggestion to parents who go to conferences this fall, be civil. You may not like the teacher, but that is no reason to be rude. There are tactful ways to deal with any situation. Remember that you are there for your child. If the child is having success, great. If not, ask the teacher for specific ways you can help. Perhaps additional study time is needed at home or extra help is needed before or after school or maybe a tutor is required. Always try to work toward solutions with the teacher. And try to do it in a civil manner.

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