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Today I am Picking on “the Administration”…teachers, principals …just some food for thought

Today I am going to pick on the administration. I feel the bristling of the feathers already, but I hope to at least open your mind.  I am speaking generally but the school administration should be flexible. Why? Because these are children and they are all individuals and they all have different backgrounds and different needs and different personalities, and we haven’t even touched on the parents and their differences. I think that the administration should try practicing this old sales technique, sometimes.

In the technique you can never use the word “no”. In the situation the parent is the customer. Sometimes the customer asks and/or demands things that simply cannot be accomplished.  But once we say “NO” an adversarial relationship is created and that may last forever. I say forever because I talk to parents who have children that are now adults, but they are still holding a grudge against the school system for not accommodating the Parent in the way they felt the school should.

OPTIONS AND SOLUTIONS.

There is always a solution. Offer the solution and explain why this solution is being offered and why. (Oh, by the way, sometimes the administration is wrong. I know the administration has many degrees, never underestimate the power of parents’ knowledge of their child.)

Parents spend a lot of time with their children.  The parent usually has a good idea of what their student will respond to well and what they have observed the student not respond to.  Sometimes the administration can be caught up with getting the deed done.  They tend to dismiss what the parent is saying. Admit it! Sometimes the administration stereotypes (I feel the bristling happening all over again).  But are we not human?  If we can admit that sometimes we are human and everything we are doing isn’t right, then we can fix it.  If we refuse to ever admit that we made a mistake we are doomed to repeat the same thing over and over again, no matter what the result are (some people refer to this as insanity). Also, the more you listen to the parent, the more cooperative and involved the parent becomes, ultimately creating less of an adversarial relationship and more of a partnership.

Hey Administration!!! When you start reading procedure right out of the handbook, parents’ eyes just glaze over. It’s just legalese gibberish and it creates the image that you are hiding behind a handbook and that you are not really interested in helping their child.

Now, I have often heard the administration say that they simply do not have time for all of this, that there are many students they need to help.  My response has always been: if what you are doing isn’t working and the student is still problematic, how much time are you spending on the problem now versus if you had been Proactive?

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The Disconnect Between Teachers and Parents…RESOURCES

I’ve had many discussions with parents who are upset because their child is having an educational  issue and they feel the School is unresponsive. I think part of the reason that the Parent feel the School is unresponsive is because the boundaries are not clear . where the actual responsibility of the Teacher stops and the Parent begins  What needs to be clear is that it is the PARENT who is ultimately responsible for the student’s education. Teachers and administration are tools and resources. They can only work with what they have.

If there is a deficiency in a child’s education then the parent should step up to the plate and ask the question: “What do I need  to  do next?” Teachers and administration cannot solve all of your child’s problems and a parent should not hold them accountable.   However that boundary is oftentimes not made clear to parents.  The administration needs to make it clear where the boundary is; the administration must also make clear what the resources are and how parents should go about getting them.

Sometimes the administration may come across as unwilling to divulge what those resources are.  I am not sure why, but when that happens the walls of communication between Parent and Administration  simultaneously go up.  There is no team and conversations become adversarial and contentious The parent must  go after those resources.  The administration cannot do it for you.

When my son was in the first grade I received a notice from his elementary school that he was deficient in math.  I went to Marc’s and purchased math workbooks for him. I had him work in those books every evening.  When he was coming home with bad spelling grades. I would come up with 20 words every week, make him look them up in the dictionary, define them, and write them in a sentence. He HATED it.  He would grumble every evening. BUT he was ecstatic when he came home with a 100% in spelling!  My daughter was found below average in reading in elementary school.  I had books at home; I made her read and write a report on them. I was never an expert, but I knew that ultimately I was the one responsible for my child’s education.

A friend of mine (Cheryl Ludwa) had the greatest idea of the  parents who are very good at  digging  through the process of finding resources for students would be a great resource for  mentoring other parents. This is an idea I would love to sponsor and have at Euclid Schools.  I would love to meet more parents Like Cheryl so we can form a team and be a part of a solution for the future!

Unfortunately, education is a huge bureaucracy with many levels and sometimes parents don’t know what it is that they don’t know.  I think it’s a great idea! Parents helping parents! Who would better understand the frustration more than another parent? And who would be more sympathetic? A teacher has at least thirty or forty more students to worry about. Parents could be much helpful if they are more willing to participate in researching the resources.


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More on the disconnnect……

Is it more important to get an “A” or is it more important to actually learn? Is it more important to get an “A” in basic English or a “C” in Honors Literature?  Is it more important to be able to read the book and have a conversation about the author and the paragraph or is it more important to comprehend the argument that the author is trying to make? My point is that we need to be able to differentiate the difference of superficiality and relevancy.   I have had many conversations with parents who have no idea what their child is learning or being  taught in school.  Their concern is always the end result. The “A”.

Both of my children received a “C” in AP Calculus.I decided the fact that both worked so hard and learned the course was much more important than the letter grade. I was ecstatic because I watched them both study incredibly hard for the class and I knew that they had learned something.  What is the point of receiving a high grade if the student hasn’t actually learned anything?  The response I often-times hear is “I don’t care, as long as it’s an “A”.  I would like to challenge that. If the student received an “A” in high school but did not learn s/he will pay for it later in college. This will contribute to the attrition that we currently  have in college dropouts and low grades, especially minorities. There is a high attrition rate of first year students dropping out of college because they are simply overwhelmed with the course and unprepared for college.

Sometimes teachers also make the decision to reward a grade for the student when s/he has not earned it. This may produce immediate gratification for the teacher, parent, and student now but later on it may hurt that student when they are trying to make financial decisions and again when in the workforce and they may will not receive that gratification as quickly. This is especially evident in athletics where the concentration is focused far more on the sport rather than on the quality of education the student receives.

Let us demand more from our children and let us not get caught up with the cosmetics of the game. Our students should be taught critical thinking, not memorization. Critical thinking will allow them to continuously self educate throughout their lives. We want our students to be able to self educate and think independently so throughout their lives they are able to learn and master new skills in the workforce.

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more thoughts on the different reasons for disconnects….

One of the hardest things for the Parent to do is to be open minded with what the Teacher is saying about your child.  Sometimes it is good to hear an opinion form a Professional who does not have an emotional attachment.  A Parent’s  first instinct is to defend one’s child.  But keep in mind that you may be harming your child.  You may be teaching your child that whatever behavior he/she displays Mom or Dad will fix and then there is no incentive for positive behavior and then you have effectively disempowered the teacher.

That is when I have witnessed what I call the power struggle This can become very frustrating for the teacher who  then can  react more harshly and then the trust is gone and the relationship between parent and teacher can become adversarial and in the meantime the child is not being helped.

Always remember what is best for the child?

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More on the dsconnect between Parents and Teachers….

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate Guardian Ad Litem on of the things that was extremely important was recognizing and respecting culture and religious differences.  Recognizing these differences without judgement. We are after are in America.

It would be great to offer culture training to recognize and respect different cultures.

Empathy is easy to not have also….I think sometimes Professionals feel they should disconnect..but I think you also have to have a degree  of empathy.then it would be more difficult to judge. It would be a lot easier to be respectful.

Most important as a Guardian Ad Litem the most important goal was and is always what is best for that Child.  It helps keep everything else in perspective and then you wont lose perspective.

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My First Point……

*I want to bridge  the  disconnect between Parents and Teachers
a) This disconnect has cause Communication breakdown…Communication is not simply talking, but listening, acknowledging each other.

1) When Parents do not feel included and part of a plan , Parents will tend to either become adversarial or simply apathetic…either way the Student suffers, the community suffers and the Teacher feels no connection and no sense of accomplishment or pride.

2) A solution to this would be effective  Roundtable discussions with Parents students and teachers involved

3) Rules are vague:

Ex: No tolerance policy for fighting……how does a child protect oneself without being penalized?

4) A strategic plan  and  a way of measuring of success

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