Teach. Support. Encourage. Guide. While these are verbs that define teacher-student relationships today, they also define the 21st century partnership between teacher and parents. Much has been written about helicopter parents and over-parenting, but little attention has been paid to the new demanding adult students in each classroom and how educators no longer only teach children. They are now obliged to teach the entire extended family of their students (moms, dads, step-moms and step-dads) and to do so 24/7. (They must also teach them without compensation. It’s on the (school) house, like so many other tasks that teachers perform for free). Although society wants children to be confident, independent and persevering individuals, what parents raise instead are impotent and voiceless children who are ill - equipped to handle the challenges of modern life. What do parents teach their children when they are not only helicopter, mama bear, L is for Litigation, My Child Never Lies, Equal Rights Crusaders, Mafia Mom and Dad and Report Card Rage parents but also demanding full-time members of the class?
Not much. These lessons receive a failing grade.
At the end of every school day and on weekends, most teachers have a plethora of emails from concerned parents who believe that they are enrolled in an online course and that they deserve total unlimited access to their child’s teachers, to course materials which their child has lost, to a detailed description of the homework or class conflicts and to instant results of tests just taken.
“ Hello. Would you happen to have her test results? It’s Mother’s Day today. I hope you have some good news.”
Dear Teacher, It’s not fair to penalize him for talking during a test. The boy behind him was asking for liquid paper. What else could he do? Please tell him so he’ll know what to do next time.
“ Helen told me that you told her that she needs remediation. She would like to know what she needs help with. She thinks that it may have something to do with her messy handwriting. Could you please get back to me?”
“ I just want to verify the due date for this assignment and whether or not kids can work in pairs. Any other information I may need to know is appreciated. By the way is there any chance that you have corrected the test yet? No pressure. Just wondering."
“Can you let me know what homework is outstanding? Did she not hand in her reading log because I signed it?”
“Did Mikael hand in his work? Is he doing better? “
“Hope you had a nice weekend. As usual can I have Megan’s homework for the week?”
“Hi. Hope all is well. Just wanted to know how the Public Speaking went today. If possible I would like to know the grade. Thanks.”
“A few more quick questions Miss Lewkowicz.1) When will the next report cards be coming home? 2) 60% is the passing grade right ? 3) Will Michelle be passing this term ???”
“David did not throw snowballs. He grabbed some snow and threw it on a friend’s coat for fun. It was the first snowfall this winter. We are supposed to enjoy life’s natural pleasures.”
Even with several report cards, one progress report, two parent teacher interviews, one open house, one curriculum night and several official letters home, teachers are besieged by polite and not so polite parental demands. They are also urged by ingratiating let’s not make waves school administrators to communicate frequently with parents. Web sites like Edmodo help keep parents and students informed of homework, marks, due dates and assignments submitted or incomplete, but still parents demand that teachers be available at all hours. Teachers are urged to uses Apps like Remind to send text messages to students and parents about what they shouldn’t need reminders about. Can’t kids write down their homework in 2014? I’m sure they have agenda books and i-phones. Do parents and students really need to receive daily reminders about homework? Through Remind, teachers send reminders to parents to remind their children to study for that test and to provide both parents and students with daily highlights about that day’s lesson. Instead, what all school partners should be reminded about is the harm they are inflicting on children. What’s next? Compulsory daily FaceTime with parents and constant Twitter updates from teachers to parents? Parents are not being pugnacious (although they can be). They are simply standing at the buffet line of bad parenting.
It is clear to me that this is not the greatest generation of parents. Back off just a bit, mom, dad, step-mom, step-dad, aunts, uncles and cousins. Communication between the home and school is over-zealous, boundaries have disappeared and supportive, well-meaning parents who need a restraining order must understand that an SOS Hotline to teachers is not the way to produce an academic star.