What teachers wish parents knew... A good read. - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 84 Old 03-14-2013, 06:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View PostEvery year at the end of the year, I write the principal a letter complimenting my children's teachers and citing their specific strengths.  I also do this with bus drivers (talk aboout a thankless job!) and other staff members such as custodians and the school nurse.

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I've written the letters about teachers to the principal (and evidently I'm one of the few who does this), but this is the first year my daughter has a bus driver.  Thank you, I'll be writing more letters this year.

 

I've found that writing these letters has benefited my kids greatly.  I cite those things that have gone well, and what has worked for my child.  Being fully positive has gotten us better and better placements each year.  Either I'm giving the principal good information on what makes for a good placement, or he recognizes that I'm being positive and my kids are being rewarded for this.

 

Mass media parenting articles on places like CNN are discussing Parenting 101 issues.  If I'm beyond that, then I simply ignore it.  I understand the situation well enough to see the nuances.  A lot of people need to learn the basics first.

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#32 of 84 Old 03-14-2013, 06:58 AM
 
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I've written the letters about teachers to the principal (and evidently I'm one of the few who does this), but this is the first year my daughter has a bus driver.  Thank you, I'll be writing more letters this year.

 

I've found that writing these letters has benefited my kids greatly.  I cite those things that have gone well, and what has worked for my child.  Being fully positive has gotten us better and better placements each year.  Either I'm giving the principal good information on what makes for a good placement, or he recognizes that I'm being positive and my kids are being rewarded for this.

 

Mass media parenting articles on places like CNN are discussing Parenting 101 issues.  If I'm beyond that, then I simply ignore it.  I understand the situation well enough to see the nuances.  A lot of people need to learn the basics first.

 

What do you mean by better placements? 

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#33 of 84 Old 03-14-2013, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I bristled a little bit at the "making excuses" because it reminded me of the teacher I had in 2nd & 3rd grade. Now, she actually was a really good teacher! A bit tough, strict, and high expectations but I think she had a good balance of providing tools to succeed and treating us with respect. She also threw in lots of unique activities and hands on learning experiences that were very enriching. So, this is one pet peeve not a complaint of a bad teacher ;) If I (or anyone) didn't turn in homework it was "Why?" and I would say "I forgot" and she would say "I don't want to hear excuses!" This was beyond my articulation as a 7-9 year old, and also beyond my willingness to talk back to a teacher, but I was annoyed because she *asked* why I didn't turn my homework in and the REASON is I forgot. I didn't expect it to be an "excuse" or not have a consequence.. I simply answered the question. I learned after awhile that the correct answer to that question to make the teacher happy was "no excuse". 

 

Well.... I will say that "I forgot" was not an acceptable excuse for me as a parent. Not when I saw the kiddo do the homework. "I forgot to and it in"? Once? Okay. A big fat I don't think so. And yes, the correct answer is "no excuse" unless there is a good excuse. In which case, I would expect the parent to contact the teacher to explain. 

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#34 of 84 Old 03-14-2013, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A little off topic, but how do summer reading assignments work? Don't kids have a different teacher when they go back in September? and what if kids switch schools? Does it effect their grade if they show up to a new school and don't have the assignment done? I'm in Canada and have never heard of summer reading assignments. 

 

Generally speaking, summer reading assignments are across grade. Every child in the grade (or grouping) reads the same book, has the same assignment, etc. SO, each grade had a specified reading. In the older grades, each level had specified readings. So... basic level had one particular book. Honors had tha book and a second book. AP had a separate list. 

 

If the child moved schools? At the lower grades, I found that explaining the situation to the teacher took care of it. I didn't move the kids after Elementary, so I don't know how it works. 

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#35 of 84 Old 03-14-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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What do you mean by better placements? 

My kids are tough to place with teachers and classmates.  We've had bad years with "the best" teachers.   "The best" teacher, according to what other parents have experienced, is sometimes not the best for my kids.  I've joked that my DD needs the 55-year old school marm whose perm is too tight. By choosing to highlight what has worked for my kids, in the form of a "bravo" for the teacher, the principal has more information on what works for my kids.  By my being a positive parent to work with, he's motivated to do so. 

 

My letters are specific:  "Through Mrs. M's approach to create writing projects that integrate art and science, my daughter's writing skills have improved.  We've particularly noted that she is more willing to begin a writing assignment, and that her writing is more organized."  "Mrs. N established a positive environment with clear expectations in her classroom from the first day.  My daughter was supported in her social interactions with classmates, particularly as Mrs N was careful in pairing DD with other quiet children." 

 

These communicate the type of learner that my child is, what some of our priorities are for teacher skills, and information about what we see as areas that our child needs continued work. 

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#36 of 84 Old 03-14-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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Geofizz, thanks so much for those examples! It's the time of year when we're allowed to write letters for next year w/o naming the names of the teachers we'd like to get. Dd2 has a particular teacher in mind, but I don't even know if he's teaching 4th grade next year or who the 4th grade teachers will be. He taught at 4/5th class this year, but I think there may be a 3/4 split next year. Your examples give me a great starting point!


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#37 of 84 Old 03-14-2013, 09:54 AM
 
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Well.... I will say that "I forgot" was not an acceptable excuse for me as a parent. Not when I saw the kiddo do the homework. "I forgot to and it in"? Once? Okay. A big fat I don't think so. And yes, the correct answer is "no excuse" unless there is a good excuse. In which case, I would expect the parent to contact the teacher to explain. 

Well, yeah, it ISN'T an excuse. Thats the whole point.  "Why don't you have your homework?" "I forgot it" "I don't want to hear excuses!" It wasn't attempting to be an excuse. It was simply answering the question. I said in the post that I didn't expect to be "excused" or not have a consequence. It was irritating that she would say "I don't want to hear excuses" when in my opinion, I wasn't telling her an excuse. I told her the reason I didn't do my homework. Reason does not equal excuse. Basically, she shouldn't ask the why if she didn't expect an answer, ya know? 

 

Oh and in my case, I didn't just forget to bring/turn it in. I forgot to actually do it. 

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#38 of 84 Old 03-19-2013, 12:08 PM
 
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Interesting article- I am a high school teacher and a parent. I freely admit I became a MUCH better, and empathetic, teacher once I became a parent. It is certainly not necessary for every great teacher to be a parent, but I know it really helped me. Any article like this does a disservice with too many generalizations. I have dealt with great parents and parents who didn't care; I have worked with amazing teachers and teachers I wouldn't want teaching my dog. Ironically, the worst teachers tend to think all public education is fabulous, that no staff development is necessary, and that any student failures are totally the fault of the student. The best teachers are always working to improve and if students aren't getting it, they do whatever it takes to make sure they do. I am very blessed to work with an amazing team of teachers. I have been teaching the longest, 17 years, and love the energy and creativity of the younger teachers. We all bring something special to the team, and our students benefit from that.

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#39 of 84 Old 03-20-2013, 07:46 AM
 
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Interesting article- I am a high school teacher and a parent. I freely admit I became a MUCH better, and empathetic, teacher once I became a parent. It is certainly not necessary for every great teacher to be a parent, but I know it really helped me. Any article like this does a disservice with too many generalizations. I have dealt with great parents and parents who didn't care; I have worked with amazing teachers and teachers I wouldn't want teaching my dog. Ironically, the worst teachers tend to think all public education is fabulous, that no staff development is necessary, and that any student failures are totally the fault of the student. The best teachers are always working to improve and if students aren't getting it, they do whatever it takes to make sure they do. I am very blessed to work with an amazing teach of techers. I have been teaching the longest, 17 years, and love the energy and creativity of the younger teachers. We all bring something special to the team, and our students benefit from that.

I didn't even have to get to the end of your post before I started guessing you must have a lot of experience... you sound like a great teacher smile.gif Sometimes I feel like teaching should be an elected position (I know that would be impossible) but throughout school I used to look at certain teachers and think "who do you think you are?". It seemed like a frightening majority of my teachers just finished school and decided they would be a teacher despite the fact that they weren't good at anything (including teaching! lol). Teaching is SUCH an important and respectable position, to some kids it's like being another parent (or even the only parent). It's so disappointing to see those jaded, apathetic "can't wait for summer vacation" type teachers. 

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#40 of 84 Old 03-20-2013, 08:31 AM
 
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Well.... I will say that "I forgot" was not an acceptable excuse for me as a parent. Not when I saw the kiddo do the homework. "I forgot to and it in"? Once? Okay. A big fat I don't think so. And yes, the correct answer is "no excuse" unless there is a good excuse. In which case, I would expect the parent to contact the teacher to explain. 

Well, yeah, it ISN'T an excuse. Thats the whole point.  "Why don't you have your homework?" "I forgot it" "I don't want to hear excuses!" It wasn't attempting to be an excuse. It was simply answering the question. I said in the post that I didn't expect to be "excused" or not have a consequence. It was irritating that she would say "I don't want to hear excuses" when in my opinion, I wasn't telling her an excuse. I told her the reason I didn't do my homework. Reason does not equal excuse. Basically, she shouldn't ask the why if she didn't expect an answer, ya know? 

 

Oh and in my case, I didn't just forget to bring/turn it in. I forgot to actually do it. 

I agree.  The question is semantically confusing.  I mean, what exactly is the difference between a "reason" and an "excuse"?  I might go now and look it up, but I don't think kids appreciate that there is a difference.  An "excuse" isn't acceptable and a "reason" is?  This is the kind of circular BS that irritated me growing up. 

 

ETA: the article was irritating to me.  I hear complaints from my sister (5th grade teacher) about parents as well, so I know there are some legitimate complaints, but like other posters have said, this article comes across as smug and righteous.  


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#41 of 84 Old 03-20-2013, 10:08 AM
 
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I must have a thick skin. I didn't find the tone of the article to be grossly offensive.  A little provoking, sure, but that's to be expected considering the medium and the intended audience. He generalizes, yes, but that's hard to avoid in such a short article. I've read far more harsh and withering words directed at teachers and schools from people venting on this site without any fear of recrimination. 

 

I detected more frustration with parents rather than any other attitude. I think he makes a few good points with his plea for a little respect. I find that many parents have a reflexive rejection of the idea that anyone else might have some new or different insight into their children. Parents have become so entrenched in the concept that they are the experts about their own children, they can't make room for anyone else to make a contribution if it doesn't agree with their own views. Many parents are unwilling to acknowledge that a teacher's experience and professional knowledge may have value. They don't recognize that the teacher may have a broader perspective that can be helpful on an issue.  

 

And yes, before everyone leaps in with their stories of horrible soul-sucking teachers who refuse to nurture productive partnerships with parents, I agree that teachers should respect parents and students too. It should be mutual.  

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#42 of 84 Old 04-01-2013, 10:48 PM
 
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It didn't bother me that much either, although there are definitely some generalizations ("the best teachers give the lowest grades") that I can take or leave.  Most of the advice seems reasonable to me, especially knowing a lot of parents' attitudes.  

 

With the comments about taking advice, he says to take it and digest in like you would from a doctor or a lawyer.  Makes complete sense to me.  Unfortunately I have seen teachers receiving far less respect that doctors and lawyers in our society and on other boards, for an arguably far more important job.  

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#43 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 06:20 AM
 
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  Unfortunately I have seen teachers receiving far less respect that doctors and lawyers in our society and on other boards, for an arguably far more important job.  

 

I confess I laugh at the comparison with lawyers. I take the point that's being made in the article but really, lawyers are one of the least respected professional groups around. Almost everyone knows a half-dozen scathing lawyer jokes and lawyers are routinely blamed for the modern decline of Western Civilization. But yeah, teachers get a rough ride themselves.

 

Thinking about this general attitude, it's a symptom of living in a skeptical and entitled age. Everyone is an expert now, thanks to google, so education and experience are devalued. Thus, professionals and experts can be dismissed or ignored. People are comfortable challenging the system, especially when there is any personal inconvenience involved, and expect that they will receive individual accommodations. Our most popular, successful narratives are stories about little guys who triumph against Goliath-like systems - legal, corporate, medical, academic......  People love that plot line. It's not surprising that they try to emulate it in their  own lives constantly in exchanges when they encounter "the system", any system. It's not a bad thing. Hopefully on an individual level people will achieve good results for themselves on their personal daily "hero's journey". It does, however, create a certain amount of stress for all involved. 

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#44 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 06:48 AM
 
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The parent-teacher conflict existed when I was growing up, too! It has nothing to do with Internet!

I think the situation is worse because of the number of lawsuits nowadays. Some parents do threaten to sue if they don't like their child being called a bully, or something similar.

That still doesn't mean that the pendulum should be swung the opposite way and give teachers unquestioning "respect". Parents need to use their best judgment, and good teachers can work with good parents. If the author is finding he can't work with any parents, then he needs to face the possibility that the problem is him.
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#45 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 07:22 AM
 
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The parent-teacher conflict existed when I was growing up, too! It has nothing to do with Internet!

 

 

I honestly recall very little parent-teacher conflict from my childhood. Which wasn't always a good thing, there were times when a little conflict would have been helpful. My same-age friends and relatives have made similar observations. 

 

I think there is a very different experience between growing up in the 60's and 70's vs. growing up in the 80's and 90's. Before the counter-culture revolution, I think it was fairly common for people to accept whatever they were told by professionals, including teachers, and even if they didn't agree, to learn to tolerate it. Once they realized that "you can't trust anyone over 30" and that everyone covers their own behinds (Watergate, Viet Nam etc.), they were much less willing to go along with the system. Which supports my point about living in a skeptical age. So I don't think it has nothing to do with the internet but I agree that the internet is not the only contributing factor.  The internet just makes information, good and bad, accessible and feeds the skepticism. 

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#46 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 07:27 AM
 
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Our most popular, successful narratives are stories about little guys who triumph against Goliath-like systems - legal, corporate, medical, academic......  People love that plot line. It's not surprising that they try to emulate it in their  own lives constantly in exchanges when they encounter "the system", any system.

 

I think, though, that society at large has changed in the last 60 yrs. In the 40s and 50s society was much more paternalistic and we were supposed to listen to those in positions of authority and blindly go along unquestioningly. In the 60s, more of society began to question authority and not just go along. 

 

I got that paternalistic vibe off the article and it rankled. I think the most successful interaction whether it's between patient and doctor ,or client and lawyer, or parent, student and teacher is one of working together, not top down decrees. I did not get a "working together" message from the article. I hear his complaint of parents not taking a working together tack either, but he sounds like he's wanting them to just do what he says instead of being willing to engage in a dialogue. I hope he was just annoyed and it showed through and he really does try to work with the parents who meet him in the middle.


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#47 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 07:29 AM
 
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Our most popular, successful narratives are stories about little guys who triumph against Goliath-like systems - legal, corporate, medical, academic......  People love that plot line. It's not surprising that they try to emulate it in their  own lives constantly in exchanges when they encounter "the system", any system.

 

I think, though, that society at large has changed in the last 60 yrs. In the 40s and 50s society was much more paternalistic and we were supposed to listen to those in positions of authority and blindly go along unquestioningly. In the 60s, more of society began to question authority and not just go along. 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I think I just made that very point in my previous post. 

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#48 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 07:37 AM
 
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I think we were posting at the same time! Great minds think alike and all that. orngtongue.gif


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#49 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 07:40 AM
 
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I think we were posting at the same time! Great minds think alike and all that. orngtongue.gif

 

 

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#50 of 84 Old 04-02-2013, 03:04 PM
 
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I don't find it really offensive, a little whiny and over generalized, yeah.  It did irk me that he says he dislikes parents asking their child "is this true"  when he tells them about an incident, and yet expects parents to come and diplomatically get his side of the story when the child reports some incident to the parents.  I understand there are parents who believe their child is a perfect angel etc etc, but a child should have just as much opportunity to tell their side of the story as the teacher does. 

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#51 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 07:39 AM
 
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I've always understood the "is this true?" thing as a rhetorical question that parents ask kids as an opportunity to be honest and take responsibility for their own actions, not to accuse the other side of lying... and also so the kid gets a fair trial wink1.gif

 

I may have spent way too much time in courts but to me it seems completely unnatural to have a hearing without an agreed statement of facts first. 

 

I can't imagine it to be a great exercise in trust building for a child to see their parent taking another person's word over theirs without question. 

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#52 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 08:21 AM
 
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The problem for me is, this is an article on cnn.com, not some intelligent conversation at a dinner party listing his experience and frustrations and his ideas about solutions.  Is it supposed to be an editorial? I don't think so.  That's what rankles me.  If it was a personal column, rant, editorial, I might forgive his simple-minded, authoritarian solutions.  The guy is frustrated, and probably for good reason.  But no, this is presented as a "how to--the keys to a good relationship with your child's educator", and it simply does not work in that context.

 

We read "parents are suing teachers".  Well, in some cases, maybe it's about time.  What do we know?  I know that one of my Brownies gets yelled at ("in my ear") when she's not doing what the teacher is explaining.  There can be far, far worse.  Have you ever tried to get a teacher fired?  A teacher in Mossyrock, WA accused of child molestation was allowed to go back into the classroom, and only after the floods of parent letters and comments (and parents pulling kids out of the classroom) was he placed on paid leave.  It was a huge boondoggle, and the district was unable to actually fire him and he refused to resign.  I forget the details and the internet failed to help me on this, unfortunately.

 

My point is that, while many lawsuits are superfluous, we automatically rush to think "oh, lawsuits, how silly and melodramatic.  Those parents are overreacting".  But the fact is that we know nothing of the nature of them.  Once again, we acknowledge that experts are on the side of reason and are therefore more reliable than emotional, protective parents.  

 

Make this an editorial, and I have no complaints, except perhaps to disagree, but this is not an editorial.


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#53 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 09:08 AM
 
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I've always understood the "is this true?" thing as a rhetorical question that parents ask kids as an opportunity to be honest and take responsibility for their own actions, not to accuse the other side of lying... and also so the kid gets a fair trial wink1.gif

 

I may have spent way too much time in courts but to me it seems completely unnatural to have a hearing without an agreed statement of facts first. 

 

I can't imagine it to be a great exercise in trust building for a child to see their parent taking another person's word over theirs without question. 


Yeah that too.

 

And as far as the summer reading thing, no I most definitely don't feel his pain.  I was never assigned summer reading (though my sister was at the same school)  and if I had been, I would have felt extremely annoyed and, I don't know, disrespected.  I was a total book worm, I read many books over the summer and during the school year, but summer vacation was MINE.  I wanted to do things and read books of my own choosing, not spend my time reading a book for a teacher who felt his class was so much more important that it deserved hours of student time before the class even began.

 

As I recall, my sister and all of her friends who were in the honors english class that was assigned summer reading procrastinated the chore immensely, and then all scrambled the 2 days before school started, to snap up the last copy at the library to skim, or find the movie version at the rental store, or buy the cliff notes.  I doubt they learned or retained much about the book in the end. 


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#54 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 09:22 AM
 
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Exactly. Summer vacation (and the new school year) was always a morale booster for me. I didn't get horrible grades or anything, but I always felt I was slacking by the end of the year and each new year was a fresh start where I had high hopes that I would keep my notes tidy, keep up with homework, etc. If I had some crappy reading assignment looming over me all summer long, my "fresh start" feeling would have been already shot. 

I get the theory behind a summer reading assignment, but it probably does more harm than good for most normal kids.

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#55 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 09:51 AM
 
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I'm with y'all. Hate the idea of summer reading. School is hard enough for my dd1. She does well—mostly As & Bs—but it's hard work for her and I am definitely NOT OKAY with summer homework. She needs a complete break. She loves learning, but she needs to be self-directed in the summer and learn what she wants to and read what she wants to, not what someone else tells her to. I think I would just tell her teachers no if they tried to assign summer reading, but so far no one has done that. They can have her when it's school time, but the rest of the time is hers. I also am not in favor of homework over fall, winter, or spring breaks. I'm ambivalent about weekend homework. It gives her more time to get into a project, but I don't love it. I think if an assignment is made on Thursday and due Mon so that she at least has one school night to work on it, but can work on it over the weekend that's okay, but to assign on Friday and have it due on Mon is just kinda crappy to me.

 

And yes, I agree that this read like an editorial or a "my view" type column and in that context it is okay, but otherwise I do find it a bit objectionable. I don't do well with authoritarian types, though.


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#56 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 11:53 AM
 
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As a high school English teacher, I find your comments about summer reading very informative. We do have it at my school. The teachers on my grade level (there are 3 of us) have tried to make it as interesting and bearable as possible.

 

We give the students a list of 10 current books (Mockingjay, Nineteen Minutes, etc). The students choose one book to read. When we return, we do cross-class book talks with each teacher hosting the book talks of the books we know the best and enjoyed. In some cases, we will have so many who read a book (like Mockingjay) that we each host a book talk for that novel. The students complete a graphic organizer with the group, which they then use to create a project for a grade. No multiple choice test here. I tell the students that I want to see what YOU got out of the book, not if you noticed what I noticed in the book.

 

I guess my question is, is it the act of summer reading that is the problem? Is it the books to choose from? Is it how the book is assesed?

 

I would love some feedback.

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#57 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 11:55 AM
 
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Please understand that sometimes lawsuits are *needed*! I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I just meant that there are more parents, in my experience, using the threat of legal action to keep their children's records clean than were when I was growing up.
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#58 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 02:44 PM
 
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For us, it's the act of summer reading. It's our time to do whatever we want. School gets 'em the rest of the time. The summer is ours. To have Mockingjay assigned as summer reading would just sap the joy right out of it for her and she loves the Hunger Games books. It turns what could be fun into a "have to" and drudgery. It would for me, too, frankly. I think having it as a book to read right when you get back to school would be awesome, but over the summer just sucks, IMO.


Mamatreehugger.gif to two girl beans, Feb 2001hearts.gif and Nov 2003coolshine.gif . DH geek.gif, and two crazydog2.gifdog2.gif . Running on biodiesel since 2004!
 
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#59 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 08:21 PM
 
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I hated summer reading. I went to catholic school and had summer reading up until 12th grade. In the younger grades, we were able to choose 5 books and we had to write 5 book reports. In the middle and high school grades, we were given a list to choose from and then tested on said books. The book list was classic literature, think Steinbeck, Orwell, etc, and they were so boring. It turned me off from reading for a long time. I was the active, play outside all day type, so sitting down with a book was not my idea of fun. I remember getting the cliff notes after reading the book to try and understand whatever symbolism the teacher was asking about and to help study for the tests.

Ryan 08-28-08  & Julianna 5-3-11
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#60 of 84 Old 04-03-2013, 09:23 PM
 
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Even if it was a book I had wanted or  planned to read, just being officially assigned to do it during my summer vacation would have turned me off.   It would have felt like my teachers didn't value the activities or interests I wanted to pursue during my vacation, or trust that I would do anything worthwhile on my own. 


Mommy to DS1 July '09 and DS2 Oct '12 and someone new in May '15

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