Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Schools Should Not Be Hiding Important Information From Parents

January 24, 2013


As a teacher, my job is to work with parents for the benefit of the child. That is why I am very uncomfortable with the idea of hiding information from them. The practice of nurses giving out nicotine patches to smoking students without notifying parents constitutes a breach of trust. It is not our place to be giving out nicotine patches or condoms or anything of that sort. That’s chiefly the responsibility of parents. To be doing this without their knowledge and expressed permission goes against the objectives of our role and constitutes a clear breach of trust:

Children as young as 12 are being handed nicotine patches by NHS nurses at school without permission from their parents.

The patches are being distributed by nurses employed by NHS South West Essex who visit schools every fortnight and speak to the children confidentially.

NHS guidelines say children as young as 12 can access nicotine patches from chemists and GPs throughout the country, but it’s up to each primary care trust what services they offer.

Parents at one school in Basildon, Essex voiced concerns that parents weren’t being told about the service.

Danielle Northcott, 39, whose 13-year-old daughter Amaris is a pupil at Basildon with Woodlands School in Takely End, Essex, where patches are distributed, said: “Woodlands is a good school and even though I didn’t know the nicotine patches were available I would rather her have that than a cigarette in her mouth.

“As parents I do think we should have been consulted on it and the school should have been clear about it.

“Some parents will not agree with the meetings between the child and the nurse being confidential and it will divide opinion. The only thing that worries me is that the patches will become a status symbol and children could want them just to look cool in front of their friends.”

Click on the link to read The ‘Meanest Mother’ Isn’t Mean at All (Photo)

Click on the link to read The Most Popular Lies that Parents Tell their Children

Click on the link to read The Innocence of Youth

Click on the link to read Kid’s Cute Note to the Tooth Fairy

Click on the link to read A Joke at the Expense of Your Own Child


The Importance of a Healthy Parent-Teacher Relationship

January 22, 2012

One of the most important skills of a successful teacher is the ability to harness positive interactions with parents. I believe that a teacher must consider themselves part of a team. After all, the parents and teacher form the three major stakeholders in a child’s education.

Such a notion is supported by expert Karen Campbell.

A GOOD parent-teacher relationship is important to every child’s learning journey and helps develop a memorable school experience.

That’s the opinion of Sunshine Coast education expert Karen Campbell.

And like any relationship, she says these need nurturing and constant attention to be of benefit to the child.

With the new school year only a week away, many parents may be meeting their child’s teacher for the first time.

“Parents have to realise that a teacher is such an important part of their child’s life,” Mrs Campbell, a tuition facilitator and former teacher, said.

“They need to introduce themselves to the teacher, and tell the teacher any special things about their child.

“Open communication is essential, so it’s important for parents to inform the teacher if there’s a problem at home such as a death, break-up or business failure.

“This allows teachers to develop an understanding and appreciate why a child may be behaving a certain way.”

Not all parents are easy to get along with and some employ methods that are not exactly to my liking, but I realise that a disconnect between myself and the childs’ parents is potentially destructive to the academic progress of the child.

It is important to work past any differences one may have and find common ground in the best interests of the child.

Tips for healthy parent-teacher relationships:

  • Re-introduce yourself to your child’s teacher by appointment
  • Inform your child’s teacher of any home-related problems
  • Volunteer to help with school activities
  • Make sure you adopt the same learning style at home as at school
  • Notify the teacher of any special talents or gifts your child may have
  • Open the lines of communication through casual conversations outside the classroom, for example, when dropping off your child or picking them up

The Sad Reality of Teacher/Student Facebook Communication

January 9, 2012

People who draw attention the benefits of teacher/student Facebook communication miss the point. There is no doubt that there are some fantastic innovations through social media that would allow teachers to respond to the educational needs of their students. But all benefits go out the window when one considers the dangers.

High school teacher Jennifer Kennedy has a prepared response for students who send her “friend” requests on Facebook.

No. Or, at least not until they graduate.

It’s a rule she said she shares with fellow teachers at Sacramento New Technology High School.

Increasingly, school district officials across the region and throughout the country are coming up with their own guidelines for what kind of online and electronic communication is acceptable between teachers and students.

Is it OK to be Facebook friends?

What about direct messages on Twitter?

Or text messaging from personal cellphones?

“We have a generation of kids who communicate this way,” said Kennedy, who teaches sophomores and seniors. “If you say absolutely no Facebook or texting, you are cutting off an important relationship with students.”

In districts with policies against such behavior, officials have said social media sites blur the line between the professional and private lives of teachers. And then there are the rare but widely reported allegations of abuse initiated or intensified through social media.

These allegations of abuse spoil any chance teachers and students have of communicating via social media sites. Perhaps this if for the best.
What is your opinion on this issue?

Report Writing That Says a Lot Without Saying Anything

November 25, 2011

It’s report time again, which means the long nights and deep frustrations have arrived.  Many will think I’m strange, but when I first started in  teaching, I was looking forward to writing reports. I saw it as an opportunity to inform the parents about how well I know their child. Communication with parents has always been very high up my priority list, and I saw reports as the centrepiece of good quality communication.

But since I became a teacher the rules for report writing has changed, and we are all worse of as a result.

The Government has legislated that reports all feature the same grading system and the same essential sections.  Two such mandatory inclusions include a list of skills in every area that the students need improvement in and what the school will do to address these needs.

Sounds good, right?

Wrong. Schools across Australia are so terrified that if the teacher doesn’t end up addressing the needs of the students as promised in the reports, then it will open them up to litigation. So schools have quickly searched for a loophole, a strategy designed to be seen to guarantee things to parents without actually guaranteed anything.

And out of that think tank came every teachers new buzz word – ‘encourage’.

“The school will encourage Max to underline key words when reading worded questions.”

“The school will encourage Rita to use rubrics before planning a piece of writing.”

So in the end, the school is offering no actual response to the child’s needs, just some “airy fairy” words that don’t actually mean anything.

And then there’s the “education” words that don’t make any sense to most parents.  Because many teachers are expected to leave out hard truths like, “Max doesn’t behave in class” and “Rita doesn’t apply enough effort”, teachers have employed words that the average parent wouldn’t understand.

For example, teachers love using words that start with “meta” like “metacognitive”, “metalanguage” and “metabolic steroids” (OK, maybe not the last one).  As the custom is to spare the school of angry or dissatisfied parents, teachers have become great at writing reports high on words and low on substance.

It’s actually harder and more tiresome than it sounds.

It’s Time That Teachers Get Trained Properly

September 28, 2011

It’s just bewildering how unprepared our system seems to be in dealing with students who turn up to school without basic language skill.

When a person fronts up to a doctor with an ailment that came about from unhealthy eating habits and reckless behaviour, the doctor doesn’t throw his/her hands up in the air and tell them that they can’t properly help them because of their inability to look after themselves.

When a plumber gets called to a house to inspect a toilet that has been clogged due to the owners stupidity and laziness the plumber doesn’t refuse to take the job citing that they can’t fix a problem that wouldn’t have existed had the owner stuck to flushing toilet paper only.

There are professionals that are prepared to take on all kinds of cases regardless of the negligence or challenges involved.  And then there’s teachers …

Traditionally, teachers seem to crumble when presented with students who haven’t acquired basic skills at home.  I am glad to hear that our wonderful profession is taking more positive steps in dealing with this problem:

In socially deprived areas more than 50% of children begin school without the ability to speak in long sentences, which experts say can lead to problems in later life. Schools across England are taking part in a day without pens to tackle this speech deficit.

It took the whole class of five and six-year-olds six attempts to reassemble these jumbled words into a coherent sentence: “Past the walked we shops.”

Partly it was the noise in the classroom which made listening difficult.

Partly it was the distracting presence of a man from the BBC with a microphone.

But mostly it was unfamiliarity with the basic rules of English, their first language, which made the exercise so long winded.

The children, from Baguley Hall Primary School in Wythenshawe, south Manchester, are bright and normal children.

But they have had few opportunities to develop conversation skills.

It is a poor area with high unemployment and a large proportion of children living in lone parent households.

 Family discussions do not happen very often.
Of course I am making a generalisation  (and I am not comparing a child with a clogged toilet!). There are plenty of teachers fully equipped at dealing with this issue.  But there are too many that aren’t.
For me this has little to do with effective teaching and more to do with effective teacher training.  Teachers are not fully prepared for the child that doesn’t know how to carry a conversation because practical skills aren’t properly covered in a Teaching degree.
Whilst it would be nice for parents to ensure their children turn up to school with basic language skills this just can’t be relied upon.  Teachers need to be prepared for all types of scenarios.
Unfortunately, they are not prepared at all!

The Lost Art of Conversation

August 22, 2011

Remember when quality time with another involved talking?  Remember when a family dinner was a daily not twice yearly occasion?  Well, times have changed and some think that the lack of real conversation between family and friends is quite acceptable and just a new feature in the era we live in.

That may be so, but it just doesn’t feel right.  The notion that smartphones and video games are bringing families closer together doesn’t sit at all well with me:

Four in five parents described playing video games with their children as “quality time”, while 32 per cent of parents play computer games with their kids every day.

Many grandparents revealed that they play video games with their tech-savvy grandchildren, in a bid to get closer to them.

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Reader in Psychology at Goldsmiths said: “These findings are important because they highlight the social benefits of playing videogames.

“Previous research has tended to look only at the individual effects of video games, but in the era of social networking games appear to play a vital role in enhancing social relationships. The fact that both parents and grandparents are using games to connect with their children and grandchildren, and quite successfully, suggests that video games can improve social skills and make a key contribution to both effective parenting and child development.

The social benefits of playing video games?  Are you a doctor of psychology or a rep for Nintendo?  Just because parents are resorting to these lengths in a bid to connect with their kids doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to communicate with them.  You can spend hours every night playing Mario Bros. with your child and never begin to understand how they are feeling, what their troubles are and what excites them etc.

Imagine if dates consisted of smartphone operations and video game playing instead of dinner and romantic walks?  How would that work?  The answer is it wouldn’t, because people need to actually converse in order to connect.

Why should it be any different with kids?

A Continuation of My Previous Post

April 29, 2011

As a continuation of my previous post about the unfair attention given to a teacher who doubled as a writer of adult fiction, I felt it was worthwhile concentrating on the role of parents in education.  There is no doubt that parents are an essential stakeholder in the education process.  Teachers are accountable to parents in the same way they are to other stakeholders.  However, there are times when parents can become too obtrusive. The hysteria that abounded concerning this poor teacher was completely unwarranted and unfair.

Below I have some recommendations for issues parents should feel free to take up with their child’s teacher:

–  Why is my child not progressing?

–  Why is my child not able to understand the set homework?

–  How is my child managing socially?

–  What steps and consequences did you implement when my child was being bullied?

These are questions and issues which parents might be best not focussing on:

1.  What the teacher does in his/her private time

2. How come my child isn’t up to the standard of child ‘x’?

3.  Can you please comment on the teaching skills of a colleague?

4.  Why has my child not received an award or certificate this year?

Whilst parents are encouraged to raise concerns with teachers, it is important to remember that teachers are human, usually fair and often try their best.  To make the education process run smoothly the teacher needs the trust and support of the parents.  In turn, the parents need to be kept up to date with what their child is doing and how they are coping.

To conclude, I wish to thank my readers for their constructive criticism of my previous post.  I was rightly pulled up on some of my opinions and have changed my position accordingly.  I strongly recommend that you visit the blogs of those that so eloquently argued for the poor teacher’s right to privacy and tolerance.  Their blogs reflect the insight and wisdom of their comments.  I am so fortunate to have such clear-minded and compassionate readers.  Thank You!

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