Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Parents AND Teachers

My Dad was an avid reader of the NY Times and a DEVOTED reader of its editorial page.  When he grew too weak and weary to even sit up and read the NY Times himself, I sat by his bedside reading the editorials to him.  Tom Friedman was one of his favorites even though he admittedly predicted erroneously the demise of Amazon (who knows - I might just be part of the reason that Amazon is still around!)
Anyway, I am confident that my Dad would smile when he read the editorial below about PARENTS and teachers. 

Long before it was known to impact achievement, my parents read to their kids every day. We had no TV and precious few books in our very tiny "mobile home" (trailer); however, those books were treasures we shared and moments where we glimpsed at the lives of others.  I certainly grew up knowing, without being told, that books could take you places - almost anywhere. 

Yes, I did read LOTS of books to my own kids when they were little; however, as working parents we had lots of books to choose from and lots of potential distractions in our busy lives including the Muppets (back this weekend in a revival destined to distract those now adult kids). 

As a busy working mother, sometimes I taught GED classes at night.  Lots of nights there was only one parent home in the evening and we were rushed as we struggled to "get it all done" and into bed at a reasonable hour.  I do know the stresses that busy parents feel. There are always OTHER things that we SHOULD do if our houses and clothes are to be clean. Our lives are very busy and it is hard to juggle everything effectively.  BUT, our interactions with our children are critically important to their success as students and people.

WHEN THIS LINK appeared in my "e-reader" as a forward from a group of literacy specialists, I knew I had to share at least a part of it.....because it reminds US (teachers) that OUR teaching is much easier when we have the support of parents.  MOST of the time, we can get that support IF we ask for it and IF we tell parents how important their support is.

When we can't get that support, we can still do our very best to close the GAP for those kids.  We have to read to them even more - and talk with them even more - and not give up - while knowing that we are indeed climbing up against a ceiling of achievement that will try to keep those kids down.....

I guess the message of the article abstract below is that WE can do our best work WITH parents as children's first and most important teachers.   


How About Better Parents?By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Published: November 19, 2011

IN recent years, we’ve been treated to reams of op-ed articles about how we need better teachers in our public schools and, if only the teachers’ unions would go away, our kids would score like Singapore’s on the big international tests. There’s no question that a great teacher can make a huge difference in a student’s achievement, and we need to recruit, train and reward more such teachers. But here’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.

......................Schleicher explained ... “just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring. It is something every parent can do, no matter what their education level or social background.”.............

........................For instance, the PISA study revealed that “students whose parents reported that they had read a book with their child ‘every day or almost every day’ or ‘once or twice a week’ during the first year of primary school have markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents reported that they had read a book with their child ‘never or almost never’ or only ‘once or twice a month.’ On average, the score difference is 25 points, the equivalent of well over half a school year.” .....

To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective.

The whole article:

tom friedman tbi

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