What Teachers Want to Tell Parents
How you can do your part to improve parent-teacher communication
Know the Difference between Learning and Grades
Our school has an online grade program where teachers record grades as they give them. It’s supposed to create more fluid communication, but more often than not, it creates an emphasis on the commodity of school, rather than on the learning. When we focus on points, quibble over a tenth of a percentage, or check the grade program 37 times in one day (one of my student’s parents actually did this) we’re sending a very clear message: it doesn’t matter what you learn, only what you appear to have learned.
And we know better. We’ve all been in a class where we got an A and didn’t learn a thing, but struggled in another class and learned more than we ever would have imagined. An insistence on point-driven learning leads to students becoming risk-averse in their studies and not challenging themselves. We should be asking what they learned, what they’re curious about, or what they want to learn next, because these are the questions that truly lead to lifelong learning, much more than a good grade.
We know that you’re sending to school each day the very best child you can. And we’re sure you know that we’re trying to send home every day, the very best child we can. It reminds me of the second realization of motherhood, right after implicit hope: implicit knowledge that I was going to make some mistakes. But as my 5-year old daughter recently reminded me, “it’s not a mistake, Mom, if you learn from it.”
Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa. She was the 2010 National Teacher of the Year and is the Teacher Laureate for the Teaching Channel. She is also a mom to 3 children.