Teacher to Parent - A child must be a willing participant in his own education

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TeacherNY, Feb 14, 2020.

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  1. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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  3. Backroads

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    To a certain extent, I agree that teachers are fairly responsible for making sure students learn... again, to an extent.

    But, golly, kids need to agree to the learning.
     
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  4. TeacherNY

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    Right. How old is that phrase, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink"?
    Old as the hills probably.
    What if a doctor prescribes medicine and the patient won't take it? Then the patient doesn't get better? Or tells them they need surgery but they refuse? Is it the doctor's fault the patient gets sicker?
     
  5. futuremathsprof

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    [​IMG]
     
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  6. a2z

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    A much overused phrase, in my opinion. I do believe it is a teachers job and obligation to make a classroom environment one such a child wants to learn. They are also obligated to understand the child and give their best effort to try to motivate the student who is unwilling or unable. All to often it is used by those to not put forth the effort to help motivate the student. It certainly is an easy out. All you have to do is present and then you can use the phrase.

    I'm not saying there aren't hard nuts to crack, but I've heard this used as a lazy way out of even trying.
     
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  7. futuremathsprof

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    This is fair, BUT there are some students who refuse to learn. I have one student, in particular, who refuses to do any class work or homework. His parents think I am to blame and I am constantly on him about coming to class prepared and ready to learn and staying on task. Instead, he would rather just talk with his friends, goof off, and play on his iPad, which is absolutely ridiculous.

    He chooses not to participate and doesn’t want to even try. No one can make him do anything and I cannot occupy his mind. HE has to be the one to take charge of his own learning. It’s called personal responsibility. Children can still be culpable and found at fault and your age shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether or not you are found “guilty” of failing.

    Luckily, he gets average test and quiz scores in spite of his unwillingness to participate and so he is at least learning the content to a certain extent. That’s the only reason he has a C-.

    That’s not my fault. It is entirely his own. TeacherNY hit the nail on the head.
     
  8. TeacherNY

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    If the teacher has already jumped through all of those hoops then the ball is in the student's court. Your excuse is also used by parents who do not want to take any responsibility for their child's education.
     
  9. Tired Teacher

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    "But there are too many kids in our society whose families don’t value education. They have not been reared with appropriate discipline. And work ethic isn’t even a thing. These children often come to school and spend their days playing or distracting others. " (from the article).
    That isn't the half of it! Also, some come from chaotic homes with absolutely insane behaviors. Some hit, kick, cuss, spit, and throw things too! Many schools no longer have any consequences. That's not my fault.
    Those types of kids aren't learning what they need to and w/out back up from parents or admin, they never will. The kids who are in a class that has to be cleared frequently won't learn as much either.
    I loved teaching academics. Most years, I felt solely responsible for what my kids learned. ( I cut myself a little slack if I had too many kids or unusually tough kids once in awhile, but not often.)
    There are kids though that I would not take any responsibility for how they turned out or what they learned. Their lack of learning goes back on their parents, the school system that allows garbage behavior, and whatever is causing some of our kids to have gotten so messed up.
     
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  10. CindyBlue

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    I disagree with you on this. I think you are demeaning almost every teacher I have ever known by saying it. I have known a few hundred teachers in the course of my teaching career, and I can think of only one that might use that phrase as "an easy out." One. I know of only one "lazy" teacher - and that the rest are giving their all, more than they should, and are being beaten down by a system that makes it literally almost impossible to teach. Teachers are not "obligated" to "understand the child" - are you kidding? Many of us have 150+ students a day - there is no way to "understand" all of those who are "unwilling and unable." We keep doing the best we can, but if "the best we can" does not produce a perfectly perfect result for each and every child we teach, that should not be taken by anyone, especially by a teacher, as an "excuse" for not being able to "understand" every child in our classroom.
    There is a limit as to how much effort that any teacher can make to help motivate a student. Teachers need to provide opportunities to learn, and a classroom as conducive to learning as they can. But they can't do it when students are rude, out of control, unmotivated, and enabled by parents and society and admin, and they certainly can't do it if they are being disrespected by people who think that every teacher is responsible for the motivation of every student in his/her classroom. Combine that with out of bound parental expectations and unending blaming the school and especially the teacher for everything their little darling has done wrong, and you have the main reasons teachers are leaving the profession in droves.
     
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  11. a2z

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    I don't have a problem with you disagreeing. I have a different experience than you. Those that use this phrase are the ones to give up the fastest or the ones who have the attitude that it is the student's job to completely adapt to them.

    And yes, I believe when a student is struggling it is the obligation of the teacher to determine what is going on with the student and try to rectify it, if possible. They may not always achieve. Unless you are a specials teacher in elementary or in MS or HS, you don't have 150 students. Problems we see in upper grades has its basis in earlier grades allowing the problems to grow. So, if you have 60% of your class struggling and you have no support, it isn't a new problem it is an old one and a current one at the same time. But saying "You can lead a horse..." doesn't really address the issue. It just removes responsibility from the teacher or the school having to address what was ignored for many years.
     
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  12. a2z

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    I believe there are times teachers' run out of options on their own. I also believe there are times administrators block options that may help. I also believe the moment the phrase is used means you have given up on the student. At that point, there is no reason for the student to remain in the class and students pick up on this. The situation will never improve. Then if they are disrupting the learning environment, you are also giving up on the other students who want to learn by choosing to give up on the horse.
     
  13. Rabbitt

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    VERY well said!
    As I sat here stunned and trying to figure out what to say, you did!
     
  14. Rabbitt

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    I also disagree with you on this. I was stunned when I read it. CindyBlue wrote exactly what I wanted to say.
     
  15. Backroads

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    I'm fearing an upcoming conference where the fault of the student's lack of progress will be entirely on me when, if my suspicions are correct, the more basic help this student needs is something that is a parental responsibility.

    I'm a teacher, not a saint.
     
  16. TeacherNY

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    Don't be shocked. This particular poster always sides with the parents. I am thinking she is not a teacher. I feel bad for the teachers of her kids :dizzy:
     
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  17. futuremathsprof

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    I think she is a teacher and that she cares for her students, but she does always seem to think students can do no wrong and that it is the teacher’s responsibility to do everything, no matter what the student does or does not do.
     
  18. SpecialPreskoo

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    My teachers didn't do a song and dance to make me learn. I did my work because I had to. I'm not going to be a circus act in order to drill something in a stubborn kid's head.
     
  19. Tyler B.

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    A2Z, this is so true. Teachers can not allow children to choose failure - they are too young to understand the consequences. Some children are so damaged that they require a teacher muster all hands on deck, but we can't give up. An F should be the hardest grade in anyone's class to get.
     
  20. futuremathsprof

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    You are so naive. If this were the case, then all teachers who cared and tried to get their students to learn would have no students fail. That is clearly not the case. Reality says otherwise.
     
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  21. a2z

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    I don't have a problem with students receiving Fs if teachers are trying and still unable to get the student motivated or get the student to understand. I just think a teacher should never stop trying. The hope is that the teacher and the school can figure out ways so that the student can learn.
     
  22. futuremathsprof

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    For this, I couldn’t agree more. However, some students just refuse to try or learn. At that point, nothing I do will get them to do anything and they aren’t willing to even try.
     
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  23. Tyler B.

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    There's a difference between a teacher who shrugs and says, "That kid is choosing to fail." then stands back, and a teacher who fights to keep that student engaged.

    We can't stop all children from failing, but we can do our darnedest.
     
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  24. RainStorm

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    Personally, I refuse to be held accountable for another person's poor choices.

    I know how to teach the content. I know how to make it engaging to the majority of the class. I know how to meet the needs of struggling, advanced, and middle-of-the-road students. But I'm not a circus-performer. If a child chooses not to engage despite my best reasonable efforts, I refuse to see that as a failure on my part.

    Some children are going through challenges we will never see or fully understand. I can't fix the world for them -- I wish I could, but I simply don't have that ability, and I think it is very unreasonable for anybody to expect me to do "the impossible" -- much less consider it part of my all-encompassing job description.

    If I have 28 students, I can't stop doing what works for 27 of the students and devote myself completely to a student who either refuses to be engaged, or who (at this point in time) is incapable of being engaged -- not at the cost of educating the other 27 who are engaged.

    The comment that "teachers cannot allow students to choose failure" leads one to believe that teachers actually have the power to force students to make reasonable choices that are in their best interest. We have no such super powers. To make a statement that it is all up to us to save that child is unreasonable.

    Parents have a responsibility. I can't fill the entire gap that is left when parents refuse to parent, are economically unable to parent, or are emotionally unable to parent. That isn't my role as a teacher.

    The community has a responsibility. I can't fill the entire gap when the community does not provide the safety net that children-in-crisis need. That isn't my role as a teacher.

    The medical community has a responsibility. I can't fill the gaps left by lack of medical insurance, lack of mental health care, lack of physical care, lack of needed medication, lack of basic preventative care. I can't provide psychological care either. I'm not trained or qualified, and their aren't enough hours in the day for me to try and do that in addition to all of the other things that are required of me.

    I'm only one person. There are limits to what I can do.

    I get tired of the attitude that teachers must be some kind of super hero who tries to fix all the problems of the world, all in the name of serving a child. I'm not the child's parent. I'm not the child's counselor. I'm not the child's doctor. I am not the child's social worker. I'm not capable or able to fill those roles.

    I am the child's teacher. And I'm very proud to say I'm a very good teacher.

    If you've been in the front lines -- a successful teacher in a trauma-filled school -- for 20 or 30 or even 40 years, then come talk to me about how it is my job to "refuse to let any child fail." I'll be very willing to listen. We will have a interesting discussion.

    But if not, spare me the "super-hero teacher" speeches.
     
  25. futuremathsprof

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    As always and as I commonly expect from you, a thorough and beautiful response.
     
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  26. a2z

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    Rain, perspective is an interesting thing.

    What do you think of a large group of teachers who feel
    but aren't following the IEPs of the students who have disabilities and then say "you can lead a horse to water" when the child isn't reading the book that is 3 levels above the student's reading level or have long division problems when the child doesn't even know his or her numbers?

    We all have perspectives. Mine is somewhat different than yours.

    I can share many more examples of teachers who choose to present information and the rest is the fault f the student and blame the parents and the students for any failure. The funny thing is these same teachers take the credit for student success even when students are getting tutored outside of school because they aren't getting their academic needs met in the classroom.

    That is why I keep saying that teachers should always try. When you give up using the "you can lead the horse..." phrase, there is no longer a chance that something will be done to get that student to succeed.

    I have yet to hear a teacher use that phrase as they keep trying to come up with strategies to help a student. It could be just my experience, but those that continue to try something and look for different ways have never used that phrase.

    I'm not saying that there are others that may use that phrase and continue to try, but it has been my experience that those that use them have given up on the student and don't want the responsibility to educate the child anymore.
     
  27. TeacherNY

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    I would try my hardest but not at the expense of 25-30 other kids or my own sanity. Kids and parents need to put in some effort. The teacher can not put in 100% when they put in 0%. That's not fair to anyone involved.
     
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  28. a2z

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    It is interesting that you assume they put in 0% when you can't always see effort. You have no idea what is going on in their minds as they spout their "save face" words or actions. Sure, it doesn't equate to physical performance on the task, but you have no idea what is going on in their minds.

    I've also heard the no effort talk about kids who don't perform well and praise for the effort for those who academics come naturally. The child who spends hours at home and still doesn't get it gets disrespected at every opportunity for not "trying hard enough" and the kid who produces flawless work in minutes is lauded with extreme praise for putting in so much effort. I was used as the "example" in school for the kid who puts in so much effort. The fact is that Nathan who was struggling worked so much harder than me for which many things came so naturally. Poor Nathan was disrespected almost on a daily basis because he couldn't "produce accurate work" which sadly is often synonymous with effort.
     
  29. futuremathsprof

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    Small sample size? Anecdotal?
     
  30. futuremathsprof

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    I have a student who is not motivated at all, even at my “swanky private school,” as another poster once stated. He misses 4 days of school per week, on average. His mother keeps emailing and wondering why there are zeros in the grade book. He does not have a diagnosed medical problem or a doctor’s note. He does not even have an excused absent form from his parents. His mother has indicated nothing that would excuse him and all it takes is a phone call to the front office and approval from the principal.

    He has only done a small handful of homework assignments all year. He thinks that school is pointless — his words, not mine — and that there is no reason he should have to “do school.”

    His parents think I should do something and that I am responsible. They say I am not giving him the right level of supports.

    What am I to do? I’ve tried everything. He just doesn’t show up. I can’t teach to an empty seat.

    It’s not often that I have students like this, but their teacher can’t make them do anything at the end of the day if they refuse or elect not to. I can assign a consequence, but that’s it. I can’t make any students do anything.

    I think that’s where I and many other posters disagree with you. You appear to believe that students are somehow no way at fault for their performance. They are. I have tutoring times every day during my lunch hour and after school and certain students with C’s never show up. These same students take minimalist notes and don’t study for more than 30 minutes for exams/quizzes/etc. They do it to themselves.
     
  31. TeacherNY

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    It's impossible to say what percentage of effort is split between any teacher/parent/student. Do you have an exact percentage? Obviously every situation is different. 0% is just as bad as 5% or 10%. It doesn't really matter what % I am quoting.
     
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  32. Backroads

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    There is a happy medium. That happy medium's name is Reasonable.

    I very much agree with the notion that teachers, schools, have a REASONABLE obligation to get students learning. I don't quite believe in the phrase "all students want to learn" but I daresay many truly do. I think teachers should aim to make lessons that work. I think schools as a whole have a duty to find and plan for learning difficulties.

    I think there is a lot of truth to the earlier complaint that some teachers do try to shirk this duty.

    However, I have expressed by disdain for "teacher martyrs" before. I'll try to make sure I have good teaching. I'll try to build a connection with the student. I'll keep my feelers up for signs of learning issues. But I'm not going to hold a student's hand as they learn.

    And no, this isn't reason to not keep trying. I believe that as long as a student is in school, reasonable effort should be made.

    But to where could any effort go? Do I ignore my own family, my own health, in order to help the student more?

    There is a difference between giving up on a child and honestly saying "I am doing what I am able to do."
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  33. Backroads

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    I'm like 98% "yes!" on this.

    But, darn it, I really detest the responsibility of keeping a student engaged. To bring up "kids these days", students also have a responsibility to make an effort of getting engaged.
     
  34. futuremathsprof

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    Correct. If the students puts in, let’s say 15%, that’s still an F. It makes no difference.
     
  35. Backroads

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    One last thought that popped into my brain:

    While I think there is much to be said for teachers to "never stop trying", that is a philosophy that can easily be turned into "if you haven't fixed the student, you failed as a teacher."

    That rubs me the wrong way.
     
  36. RainStorm

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    a2z,
    My comments specifically related to children who refuse to engage, not to special needs students who need IEP accommodations. Of course IEP accommodations must be met. I have no patience for teachers who ignore IEP requirements. That is a given part of being a teacher. I think I made it quite clear in my remarks that teachers, of course, must do everything in their power to be engaging to the majority of students. They must do their job -- which includes addressing a variety of learning styles. But teachers are not circus performers. Teachers are not super-heroes (as much as well like to think we are.) We can't do the "un-doable." And it is high-time society stops putting this kind of expectation on classroom teachers.

    My comments did not address teachers who don't do their job.

    I know of no IEP accommodation that says "the child will be allowed to destroy the classroom, other student's work, chairs, desks, and computers on a daily basis without any consequence, and will be returned to the same classroom within an hour of this destruction." Yet, that is what happens day-in and day-out in today's elementary education classrooms. If the child truly isn't able to control his impulses to that extent because of a diagnosed disability, then the general education classroom is NOT his least restrictive environment. The child is not in the correct placement. That is not the child I am addressing in my comments.

    But even if a student has an IEP, and I am meeting every required accommodation (and probably many more, as well,) the child is in his least restrictive environment, and the child still is simply refusing to engage -- well, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I can not force a child to engage who is not willing.

    I refuse to be a part of society's unrealistic expectation that teachers can fix anything, if only they want to and try hard enough. It is unrealistic. I won't be a part of that scenario.
     
  37. RainStorm

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    Yes, but if you only made the lessons more exciting and interesting, he would surely come to school. It is your fault that he is absent. If only you were a better teacher, he would attend school regularly, his parents would make him attend or call in excused absences as is policy and arrange for make-up work, and he'd even be a straight-A student. [End Sarcasm Here]

    Again, the expectations are not reasonable. Teachers cannot do the "un-doable." It is wrong for society to expect us to be able to "fix" everything for a child, if only we tried hard enough, cared enough, and really, really wanted to. That is nonsense. Teachers who do care, who go the extra mile, who round-up every support system out there, still can't reach every single child. If a child refuses to engage, that is beyond our control.
     
  38. RainStorm

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    Amen.
     
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  39. TeacherNY

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    I don't know where IEPs came up but even if the teacher does follow the IEP there's only so much that can be done by the TEACHER. Having an IEP doesn't mean the student sits back while the teacher stands on his/her head trying to engage the student.
     
  40. Tyler B.

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    There is no need to hold back the whole class for an unmotivated student. There is no need to do tricks and transform into an entertainer for one student. There is a need to do what you can to educate that unmotivated child.

    I would suggest that children are naturally curious and want to learn. If they appear unmotivated, a teacher should try to figure out the cause and mitigate it.

    If the child refuses to produce work because he is afraid of failure, then the teacher must remove that fear by making success appear to be approachable for that child.

    If the child has failed so often that failure seems more comfortable than the risky job of attempting success, then the teacher needs to (metaphorically) hold that child's hand and make sure he is successful, then make the child aware of his success. One success can lead to another.

    I'm not going to list all the possible blocks to success, but you get the idea. I'm sure the teachers who advocate letting unmotivated kids fail are otherwise great teachers. They could be better if they didn't tolerate failure.
     
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  41. Loomistrout

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    A student missing school the way you describe is child neglect and should be reported to CPS and/or law enforcement. Getting the kid in school should be number one intervention. You are correct in that it’s kind of tough to come up with a plan to help an empty space. The “school is dumb” stuff is backtalk. It's designed to throw you off your agenda. Don't fall for it.
     
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