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.

  1. There are awesome parents, absent parents, and awful parents. I can’t imagine that you won’t encounter some of each… but I’m glad that this was a good meeting!

  2. I definitely agree that the vast majority of parents are quite reasonable, particularly if communication is initiated BEFORE some sort of crisis arises.

  3. Kathryn

    Maybe Caesar is one of those gifted kids I carry on about?

    One of my favorite kids is flunking Latin, because he never turns anything in, but he wins gold medals in national competitions (Latin). Another excels at bombastic non sequiturs, drives adults and peers crazy, and is working three years beyond age level. Gifted and jerk kid are not mutually exclusive, and sometimes they are cause and effect.

    Maybe the fact that Caesar should be in AP is exactly what his parents need to hear.

  4. Ms. Bees: My hope is that the active parents are by far the majority. My fingers are crossed.

    Mr. Pullen: I’m still working on the “before” part. In general, I’m not fond of the phone.

    Ms. Kathryn: Cause and effect is right. Most of the jerks in my classes are, or could be, top of the class.

  5. Kathryn

    So, step it up for them. Give them something to sink their teeth into beside yourself.

  6. Were they here often enough, I’d be able to give them something. As it is, they’re constantly playing catchup with the current material.

  7. Kathryn

    Now I’m out of my depth. We are living in different worlds.

  8. No worries. As always, I appreciate any and all input.

  9. Clover88

    Tip: I contact (mostly, call) EVERY SINGLE PARENT in the first 2 weeks of school, “just calling to say hi and welcome you and your student…do I have the right numbers/email….BTW, back to school night is on blah blah blah…great to talk to you.” It takes time, yes, but since the FIRST contact we have is positive, all the others go a bit easier. And I don’t call in alpha order, I call in order of “student most likely to be needing a parent meeting” order. So that I get that good one in before I have to call back with the bad one. I have done this for 15 years, at the middle and high school levels. If I have an email address for the parent and the child seems basically well-behaved, I use a quick email instead, now that I am teaching 150/day.

  10. Well said, and agreed here.

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