Posts Tagged ‘supportive’
In education’s corner of the Intertubes, there’s a lot of ranting and raving about parents not being involved in their students’ schooling. Parents aren’t involved. Parents aren’t supportive. Parents are non-responsive. Parents are angry at the suggestion that their little angel could be a disruptive beast who never turns in work.
I have yet to meet one of these parents. That I haven’t met them either proves or disproves that they exist, depending on how you look at it, I suppose. Yet although I’m sure that there’s some truth in saying that there some parents are too busy holding three jobs to care about what happens with their little truant, by-and-large the parents I’ve even tried to contact are extremely supportive.
Case in point: Just yesterday, I met with the parents of Ceasar Nothisrealname, one of my failing sophomores. Though I can say he legitimately bright enough that he should be in AP classes — that is, I don’t tell his parents that because they want to hear it — he’s loud, talkative and will interrupt lectures and discussion with bombastic non sequiturs.
Ceasar would have close to a C if he made up his test and quiz. He just hasn’t. He has rarely turned in other assignments on time.
Confused if not frustrated or angry, his parents called Ceasar’s counselor yesterday, arranging to meet me after class for a same-day appointment. My master teacher would have been there had he known about it, but he had called in for a sub — me — that day.
Any trepidation I felt about talking to parents and fielding their questions evaporated in the first 30 seconds. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, they, whether they knew it or not, revealed Ceasar’s motivations, favored learning style, attitude and outlook. That he wants to play sports. That he learns well by listening to lecture, rather than taking notes. That he has only ever failed one class, and because of a questionable teacher.
Good to know.
When I start finally start teaching and getting paid for it, I plan on making parent contact within the first two months. Reasonable parents are always an asset, and are always leverage.
Here’s to my hope that I haven’t just been lucking out.
Let’s assume I have two choices. I have White Kids’ Unified, a mostly wealthy suburban district within spitting distance of my college and hasn’t yet offered me a contract. I also have BFE-Podunk Joint Unified, a very poor rural district that the administration in charge advertises as 95 percent Hispanic, and a district which has offered me a contract.
My master teacher has told me outright on several occasions that I am or may not be good at anything but a middle-class-white-kids’ school. This isn’t a compliment — she probably hates White Kids’ Unified with of the rest of the teachers here, masking her feelings with utter contempt.
I can’t help but think that I really do want to teach at White Kids’ Unified, anyway. Interviewer whoever-she-was was very clear:
Administrators will take care of teachers’ needs. We’re working on putting in projectors in every classroom.
White Kids’ Unified is genuinely interested in putting me in a journalism class, or a real history class. White Kids’ Unified will give me the best chance to teach my AP US History, and the way I want to.
Something about Podunk-BFE Joint Unified makes me want that 40-minute commute each way. Something about making a real difference, a real influence. I don’t care even if I am being played for the fool — I could really teach something.
All that stuff about getting into education for the kids isn’t a lie in Podunk. Sure, the mantra of teachers in White Kids’ Unified is, after all: “For the kids.” On the other hand, teachers at Podunk-BFE Joint Unified live that motto.
If they’re working there, they have to.
I was offered a job teaching English in a very rural district, and so my first consideration was:
How rural do I really want to go?
Let’s talk about how rural this district is. About 20 minutes down the freeway is a little town we’ll call Empryville. This is not where I was offered a job.
Drive past a field, and we’ll reach another town we’ll call the Middle of Nowhere. This is not where I was offered a job, either.
Drive another 10 minutes past an orange grove or two and we’ll find an even smaller town called Podunk. This is where I was offered a job.
To get to the high school, I have to turn at the corner of “charcoal-mural-of-a-steam-powered-train” and “sign-that-says-’Jesus-is-Lord-of-Podunk.’”
All told, the assisstant superintendent assures me the commute is no more than 40 minutes, total. During our famously fatal winter fog, I figure that a safe commute will end up more like an hour.
Podunk is small enough that it has a joint high school with an even smaller town called BFE. They have five elementary schools between them.
Where BFE-Podunk Joint Unified has the advantage is that they’ve already offered me a job. Teaching English. They even seemed pretty excited.
This might yet be a ruse. When the assisstant superintendent and a principal went behind the display to discuss the possibility of hiring me on the spot, I was reminded of the scene from Fargo where William H. Macy’s character goes back to “run it by the boss.”
I told this to another Podunk administrator. She laughed. She also didn’t dissuade me.
They had a huge display, even though their high school couldn’t have more than 1,000 students. Their set-up rivaled districts more than twice their size.
Their interview had been coupled with one of those Internet teacher surveys, and a conservative guess would say I answered at least 60 questions total. They also liked me, or so they said. I couldn’t help but think I was being played. Remember Fargo.
Who really wants that 40-minute commute, or, even worse, to relocate? Sure, they pay a little more than other districts, but gas prices negate any financial advantages. There must be a point where the little districts will take just about anyone wandering by.
I hope that impression is unfair, because I’m seriously considering accepting this job. What worries me is that they also told me this:
Kids here want to learn, and their parents are very, very supportive.
That’s either a convincing lie or too good to pass up. I have an appointment Friday.