Posted in Edublogs

Parents

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While this looks like a stock photo, it is actually my mother, myself and my son in a photo shoot from several years ago. It is one of my favorites. 🙂

EduBlogsClub Prompt #24:

Prompt: Write a post about parents.

Whether it’s working with parents, being an educator-parent, or something about your own parents.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Write a post about successful parent-teacher conference moments.
  • What is the most challenging part of being a parent-educator or do you feel you are an educator-parent?
  • Write a post about how your parents have helped you develop yourself as an educator.
  • Write a post suggesting ways that parents and teachers can work together to ensure student success.

I am an educator-parent. As an educator-parent I am privy to a lot of insider information. I feel I am much better versed on the education system than a parent who isn’t an educator. I don’t mean this comment in a disparaging way, it’s simply my own experience.

My parents weren’t educators and they made the best decisions they could when it came to my schooling, but that largely consisted of sending me to the public school we lived near. I made the best of that experience. I had exciting teachers and boring teachers. I was an avid reader and where school could not deliver, I branched out, seeking my own answers via books.

I remember asking my parents if I could go to a private high school…mainly to be with my best friend, but also because the notion fascinated me. How would a private school compare to a public one? But the answer was no. We ended up moving just before high school as it was, and I did as I did before, attended the school assigned to my home. I remember being underwhelmed about high school. It was just something I had to do. I had a few cool teachers, but for the most part it was just something I was getting through. My grades were good as I was the sort of kid that always wanted good grades. My love of reading didn’t diminish and I kept entertaining my curiosity with reading. I remember a lot of time at the public library and how it was more to research my own interests than study for school.

I was thrilled when the time for college came. I got to choose what was next for me! I was exhilarated. I diligently studied colleges I might like to attend. I applied to the obligatory schools, like the UC near my house and my Dad’s alma mater, but there were 3 schools that were completely of my own choosing. I remember my Dad telling me to go to the UC or join the military to have my school paid for, but I rejected both. This was going to be my choice.

I ended up going to a small private college in Washington state. I always look back on those 4 years fondly. College was everything I wanted it to be. I had made the right choice.

My son’s experience has been different than my own. He has a mother for a teacher. I had been a teacher for 4 years when he was born. I had transferred to an amazing school site that year and knew I would remain there to see my son attend a great school. Granted, this school was not near our home, but because I worked there my son could attend. I personally knew all his teachers, and built relationships with each of them as both a colleague and a parent of one of their students.

That changed when my son entered middle school. The school I had worked at was K-5, so it came time for my son and I to part ways. I had chosen the middle school I wanted him to attend, but his voice is important to me. I listened to his preference and reasoning and in the end allowed him to attend the middle school he wanted to.

His 6th grade year was the hardest year for us both. I entered a district office position and he was at a school where I wasn’t. I didn’t know the teachers and I didn’t call them friends. I had never felt so in the dark. I realized that this must be what it feels like to be on the outside, and be “just” a parent. I didn’t care for it at all. I was as involved as I could be and made an effort to get to know the administrators and his teachers. I attended every event I could. My son loved his middle school for a while, then he didn’t. While the beginning of the year seemed to start off alright, come the halfway point he was showing signs of suffering. He was being teased daily. He was enduring verbal and physical bullying, he was afraid to go to school. He would tell me stories of his teachers venting to the class about how much they hated their job or how bad the kids were, and I was appalled. I reported all of this to the administrators, and while they were friendly and generally supportive and responsive, I got the impression that they felt helpless to truly remedy any of it…the climate was toxic and not at all good for my son.

I asked around in my own district about another school to transfer him to, specifically the school that had been my preference before and was told that it was largely the same at any middle school. This answer was unacceptable. I tried to look at the other middle schools around us and was frustrated that there was no true way to get information about the school without being on the inside. It was then that I realized there are options, online options.

I am a doctoral student whose dissertation will be about K-12 online learning, so naturally why not explore online schooling for my son? I am also an online student myself, having completed my second Masters in EdTech online and working toward my doctorate in Educational Leadership online. I felt confident that as an online learner and an educator, I could see my son through online school.

It came down to two online programs available in my state. I did my research, I asked around, attended online info sessions, discussed my findings with my family, and we chose one. My son started 7th grade in an online charter school last month, and while it has been an adjustment, I love it for him. I am not a teacher at his school, but I am his co-teacher. I see everything he is expected to do and the transparency of it all is what impresses me the most. His teachers are responsive and tech savvy, which is very important. My son has complained about the level of work he has to do, but I like that the bar has been raised. No more coasting and going unnoticed by teachers who don’t enjoy their jobs. I have never been so keenly aware of what he is working on than right now, even when he was attending class at the school where I had worked. This level of awareness is powerful.

Are you a parent? Perhaps a parent-educator like me? How do you feel about engaging with your child’s school and education? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Author:

Wife, mother, K-8 National Board Certified Teacher, doctoral student and dog lover. Passionate about educational technology, academic innovation, and redesigning the American educational system.

3 thoughts on “Parents

  1. Hi Melanie,

    I was genuinely interested in this post. My daughter began kindergarten this year at the K-12 school where my husband teaches. So I am at the very beginning of the journey. And it has already changed my perspectives as a teacher to see first hand what it’s like to be the parent!

    I’m sorry your son had such a hard time at the middle school and it’s sad to know that scenario is so common.

    I’m fascinated by the online schools. Here in Australia there seems to be a growing movement for homeschooling or unschooling but I haven’t heard much about online schools. Traditionally there has always been ‘school of the air’ here. Especially for those living in the outback. There is also a government ‘distant education’ school in our state but I think you have to meet eligility criteria to attend – ie medical reasons, distance etc.

    Are online schools there private or public? Are they open to anyone? I’m quite interested.

    It’s great to know there are options becoming available to suit all students and families. It’s sad that the traditional pathway wasn’t suitable for you but good on you for seeking a solution.

    Kathleen

    By the way – at first glance I thought your image was a stock photo too! How funny. It’s a lovely photo.

    1. Thanks again Kathleen!

      I had forgotten about the term “unschooling.” My son’s online school isn’t quite that, but I understand how online school could be in that category…it certainly isn’t traditional school!

      I am a huge proponent of choice. I suppose that was ingrained in me as a young child, when I was not allowed to make any choices about my own education by my teachers or my parents.

      I know you have been wanting me to talk in more detail about my son’s online school. It is classified as a public online charter school. It is backed up by an area school district (not the district I work for, and not my home district, but one about 2 hours away). I know they have international options, but I am not sure how that works. If you would like to learn more about the online school I chose for my son, their website is: http://www.connectionsacademy.com

      And thanks for your sweet comment about my photo! I am already planning on taking another like that soon. 🙂

      1. Thanks for the link, Melanie. That is an impressive website and it certainly looks like an interesting schooling option. I certainly agree that choice is a powerful thing!

        Great idea doing another family photo shoot too. You can never have enough of them!

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