Ineffective communication between parents and teachers can be a major obstacle when trying to solve problems with students, but fortunately it can be improved. Let's first examine the two major causes of communication dysfunction.
Problem 1: Judgment
Teachers judge the parents of their students all the time. They judge them based on students' language, hygiene, dress and social skills. Parents judge teachers, too, based on comments from their children. "What did you learn in school today?" is usually followed by, "Nothing." Sometimes children accuse teachers of being unfair, picking on them, being prejudiced or a myriad of other questionable treatments.
So parents and teachers judge each other constantly, and the sources of their judgments are kids, often with a vested interest. Good kids want their parents and teachers to like each other. Troubled students want the opposite. Many children can, in their eyes, benefit from animosity between parents and teachers; and they play one against the other. This is a dysfunctional form of communication.
Problem 2: "Dumping"
The second problem is called "dumping." When ineffective, frustrated or angry teachers call parents about their child, they tend to "dump" the problem in the parents' lap. They tell what offense the child committed, and state that the parent must do something about it. This is no more effective than a parent calling a teacher about a problem at home and asking the teacher to fix it. Parents dumping on teachers is also common. They claim the teacher is responsible for a child's bad grades, bad behavior or bad attitude. They demand that the teacher must change. Parent dumping is growing, reaching dangerously high levels with less respect and belief in the professionalism of the teacher. When parents and teachers blame each other and make unreasonable demands, the one who suffers the most is the child. Blame creates no winners and lots of losers.
"President Obama has a goal that 100 percent of students should be college or career ready, and in the next decade, most jobs will require at least some post-high school education. The opportunities for high school graduates are declining and generally offer lower earning potential. But are we educating students with the right kind of post-secondary education to meet the demands of the workforce of the future?"
Jason Critchlow, 14, l. and Raiden McLean, 14, film documentary at the Willoughby Senior Center in Fort Greene.
Fort Greene resident C-Allah Coombs leaned back in his chair and stared deep into the camera as he talked about his worst day on the Fort Hamilton High School basketball team. "It wasn't good. Dean Meminger scored 50 points on me,” said Coombs. “And he wasn't even a good shooter - just a good defender." Coombs, 63, recounted his front row seat to the Rice High School prodigy and former New York Knicks’s scoring barrage as part of a filmmaking program for 12 students from the Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters are profiling a group of Fort Greene seniors and turning their stories into two-minute documentaries.
It's not enough to take a traditional K-12 classroom and fill it with technology. The smart classroom requires a more methodic approach that factors in the design of the basic shell, the teacher's space, and the students' independent and collaborative work areas.