Experience/education questions from parents

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by zolar16, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. zolar16

    zolar16 Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I'm going into my third year of teaching a self-contained class of kindergarteners with autism. Most of my parents in the past haven't raised the question of experience or educational background, but I have had 2 or 3 worried mommies ask (I'm 24, with a baby face, and my major was developmental psychology). I know they're just concerned about their babies, so I don't take it personally. However, I don't think it's anyone's business how long I've been teaching or what my degree is in. I've found out the hard way that these are loaded questions. I was instructed last year by my principal to say I am certified to teach ESE if asked. Have any of you had this problem in the past? Do you have a good way to respond to these questions?
     
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  3. Cyndi23

    Cyndi23 Companion

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I think the educational background is a valid question. I also look young for my age (started teaching-w/ a masters- at 24 and taught 10th graders, that was difficult) and was asked those questions. I was honest about my background and answered in a professional manner. I do think questions on qualification are parents business so maybe try to come up w/ a standard answer that you can always give that you feel comfortable w/ and are not giving out information you don't need to. I can see where you're coming from though.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 16, 2006

    How about sending a friendly intro letter before school starts? There are several active threads with sample intro letters currently on the forums. You could tell a bit about yourself and your ed background, welcome parents to the class and give them a broad overview of the year, your philosophy, how excited you are to work with their child etc.
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Jul 16, 2006

    Actually, I think it IS their business. After all, we expect other professions to be staffed by qualified people. I'd not want to go to a doctor who refused to discuss his experience & education.
     
  6. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I look very young and get these questions a lot too, but I am always up front and honest. I'll tell my parents where I went to school, what my degree is in, what I am certified in, and what professional background I have (including specifics about each job I've held if they ask). Then, if they feel I am not qualified, I simply redirect them to my administration who is more than happy to address their concerns. When I was in Virginia, I had parents actually crying when they met me, but by Thanksgiving, they realized I was qualified and really trusted me.
     
  7. mrsnoble116

    mrsnoble116 Companion

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    Jul 16, 2006

    at the beginning of the year, in our newsletters, the parents have to sign a letter that has information on how to access our credentials. All of our parents can find out what college we went to, what year we graduated, what our degree is in, how many degrees we have, and our full name.

    It creeps me out for them to have all that acces, but you are a professional. Would you go to a doctor with no credentials that you know of? I'm proud of my degree and it is displayed in my classroom.
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jul 16, 2006

    In Kentucky you can go to the following site and search any specific teacher for their brief educational background. I personally enjoy looking up past teachers to see where they are currently employed and whatnot...then again, I am extremely nosey! :rolleyes: This information and site address is provided to all parents in my district, which I am perfectly fine with.

    https://wd.kyepsb.net/EPSB.WebApps/KECI/
     
  9. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I don't think I would be offended if asked. After all, you go to a doctor and they often have degrees posted. Why can't teachers do that?
     
  10. zoerba

    zoerba Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2006

    Ellen,

    Sorry for being nosey, but I'm young too (23, soon to be 24) and just have to ask:

    How old are you, what grade do you teach, and why on earth would a parent cry when meeting you? Did they have a previous track record? Sorry, this just sounds bizarre!

    Chenelle
     
  11. Lydia

    Lydia Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I would agree that it is someone's business to ask about your education and experience. Granted, I'm not a teacher yet (starting in the fall) but in my current profession (lawyer), it's quite common to have people ask me my education and years of experience.
     
  12. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I actually include some info about my education and experience in my introduction on back to school night. I do think that parents have the right to question whether you're qualified to teach their kids. I aks the same types of questions of my child-care providers (how long have you been doing this? what sort of training have you received?).
    Kim
     
  13. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Jul 16, 2006

    When I started this last school year, it was my first year, and I was only 23. I only had one parent who at open house came up to me and the first words out of her mouth were, "So, this is your first year?" I was a little taken aback by it, just because of the way it was asked, but later learned that this just tends to be this parent's personality. I know a lot of teachers who hand a copy of their diploma in their classroom. I didn't do that this year, however, I think I am going to this year. It just seems to give you that professional edge.
     
  14. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I graduated in April 2004 from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, and I am 24 years old. I think only twice have I had the question raised, and it was one parent who asked each year. When responding, I answer them with confidence. My first year, I was not as confident in answering that question, yet I learned it is only to my advantage that I am young and under all circumstances, work diligently to provide a quality education for each child.
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 17, 2006

    Even the parent who seems to be asking combatively is likely, as much as anything, to be asking for reassurance: "Tell me I've made the right decision here, because it's so easy to make wrong ones..." The only parents who don't second-guess themselves are parents who are too exhausted to muster the brain cells.

    So plan on being asked about your background, and think in advance about ways to package it so parents will see the advantages for their kid. zolar, if my kid has autism, I'm going to be positively glad that you with your developmental psych background are his teacher. Lydia, since your background's in law, I know you're going to have learned some things about how to learn, think, and write (and there will be people who see you as a sort of Mother Teresa for walking away from all that presumed lawyerly loot).

    The point is, my dears: pitch whatever you've got as though it were good enough - because that's a large part of how it will be good enough. At the same time, keep working to be better.
     
  16. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jul 17, 2006

    Chenelle,

    I was 22 when I started in a middle school self-contained classroom for students with autism--I moved out of state for the position. I had six students who were all very different from each other, and about four of them were incredibly well-known within the program because of their parents. The parents were accustomed to high-rates of teacher turnover but it didn't mean they liked it; most had actually hand-chosen the classroom for their students because they trusted the old teacher, but she had left rather abruptly so most felt betrayed. I was interrogated by one parent over the phone and in person, one parent cried when meeting me first because she liked me and then because she didn't want her daughter in the room with another specific student, one parent arrived at my classroom after alleging abuse against her child's old teacher and having him removed from that classroom. My SLP actually asked me around October if I was angry that my room had been "stacked" against me but I didn't--by November, my parents trusted me and were pleased.

    When I say the parents were rough, I am not exaggerating; my administration actually set up a system where if one parent entered my room unannounced, one of my paras excused herself to go to the room next door to call administration, who would then rush over to help me handle the mom. Luckily, she followed my request to schedule such visits, and by Christmas time had no real interest in visiting to "catch me" at something because she trusted me. She actually used to take months (i.e. 6-8 months) approve IEPs, but she signed mine after a 1 hour meeting--my adminsitration was thrilled. And the parent who cried when meeting me actually spoke so highly about me with her friends that my administration was fielding requests from people I'd never met to have their students placed in my classroom. Eventually it all worked out. :)

    Ellen A.
     
  17. zolar16

    zolar16 Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2006

    Thanks for all your responses. I'm still pretty reluctant to share what my degree is in unless asked (the parents who asked in the past were NOT happy to find out that I do not have an education degree, but I guess there isn't much I can do about that). I'm very proud of my degree, and I think it was a better choice for me than majoring in special ed. However, I've never thought it was really appropriate to judge a professional based on years of experience. I wouldn't avoid a doctor because it was his first year out of med school; I would judge him based on my dealings with him. Do you all feel teachers should share how long they've been in the classroom, or can younger teachers politely sidestep this question?

    P.S. Ellen, the parents in my area sound a lot like the ones you've had to deal with. I like your suggestion; my principal and AP have praised me to worried parents in the past. Thankfully surprise parent visits are against the rules!
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 17, 2006

    You need to grow a thicker skin. If the principal and VP have confidence in you, then just keep moving ahead. Either at back to school nite or in a lettert his summer (see my previous post) introduce yourself and your background (if not sharing your major, at least say "I graduated from ***** University in 19**") Maybe list some of the professional development classes you've taken since, how excited you are to work with these kids this year, how you work collaboratively with other teachers, blah blah blah..... You need to be PROACTIVE rather than waiting for the questions and doubts to come. Tell them who you are, tell them you are qualified (the education and classes) and tell them what you are going to do. Tell them you look forward to working with them (the parents) in building a strong school-home connection. And then be done with it.
     
  19. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Jul 17, 2006

    When I started teaching, I was 22 . . . and I had seniors! I had one low-level class of 22 BOYS, and one turned 20 during the school year. Nobody seemed to doubt my abilities, and I don't recall anyone even asking.

    Now I teach middle school language arts. My BA is in secondary English teaching, and my MA is in American and British literature. Nobody seems to care that I'm not "middle school" qualified. I'm ENGLISH qualified, which plants me firmly in the language arts area.

    One funny story . . . one day I was heading to the teacher's lounge during my planning time to pick up my mail. The assistant principal stepped out of his office and said, "Where are you supposed to be?" Ummmm. . . I'm on planning?! He turned red and slinked back into his office. He thought I was a student. LOL
     
  20. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Jul 18, 2006

    I teach at a small, Christian school, and there were two of us first year teachers on staff this year. At a social event during the year, a member of the school board looked at the two of us, and turned to her (grown) daughter, and said, "wouldn't you have loved having teachers like these?" It was the first time I had met her daughter, so it seemed a little odd, but I guess some people see young and energetic as positives. You are presumably up to date on all the latest ideas and techniques, and you do bring a unique perspective to the classroom.
     
  21. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    I'm 36, and have been teaching for almost 15 years now. I do remember those parents my first few years who were hesitant about me...too young, doesn't even have her own kids yet, inexperienced, etc. However, if I had tried to hide my experience/education, I would have lost a lot of the trust that I did manage to gain in parents. Really, it's better to be open and honest, and show your enthusiasm and dedication at the same time. That's going to win your parents over.

    I have to look back at my years of teaching, though, and I was a very good first year teacher...(the principal who hired me told me that she never hired first year teachers, but she couldnt' find anyone else...then at the end of the year, she wrote me a commendation and told me that she's never seen a first year teacher with as much skill and diplomacy as I had.) However, I am a much better teacher now, so I do understand the qualms of parents when their children get very new teachers. Teaching is so much "on the job training," and you don't really know at all what you're getting into until you're in the middle of it. I think that's where the parents' worries come from. I do think that first year teachers can do a good job, and most do, but I think you learn so much with each experience that you'll be even better in five more years!
    Kim
     
  22. teacherece

    teacherece Cohort

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    Jul 18, 2006

    zolar16, what certifications do you have? Do you have a cert to teach special ed? If so, let parents know what you are certified to teach. Developmental Psychology is an excellent major to have, especially if you are working with young children. I'm a mom and I'm old, but aside from that, this will be my first year teaching. I think it's important to let parents know your qualifications (you sound qualified to me) Did you have to take ed. classes to get your cert? If so, let them know. I would tell them what developmental psychology is so that they understand that you "KNOW" how their children should be developing.

    Good luck and be proud of who you are.
     
  23. AMK

    AMK Aficionado

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    Jul 18, 2006

    I still have parents who look at me like I am not qualified to teach. I look like I am 20 but really I am 26.
    In my welcome letter I introduce myself and tell them how long I have been teaching. At back to school night I also tell them what my degree is in and so on. After the 1st few weeks parents calm down. Once you have been in a school for awhile parents get to know you/.
     

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