Tag Archives: education

Teachers Talking To Parents For You

The best teachers always say that learn just as much from their students as their students do from them.

Which must make it all the more frustrating when they realize that most of the parents, who also are teaching those students, are working on a whole different curriculum.

Obtuse enough?

The New York Times’ parenting and moming blog, The Motherlode, had an interesting article a while back about what teachers want to talk to parents about when it comes to the students. Teachers talking to parents would seem to be an automatic, but it’s not necessarily so.

I realize that to most of you this does not come as a surprise (but you might be surprised by how many people are going to be gobsmacked by the following fact), but students learn from teachers and parents at the same time. Despite what we parents might thing when we’re asking for the seventeenth time for our young dude to take out the garbage, the young ‘uns watch us like hawks and learn by watching what we do. We are teaching them all the time.The apple didn't fall far from the old block.

The best learning takes place when teachers and parents are working together to help the young dude or dudette discover the learner within. When parents and teachers are working at cross purposes, that does not happen. Sadly.

When parents don’t stress the importance of education, their young dudes and dudettes won’t think it matters all that much if they pay attention in class, or show respect to the teacher, or do their homework. And that, dudes, is bad news if we want kids to learn and progress during their education.

Don’t even get me started about the time I was subbing in a middle school for a week straight in the same class. I told the class all week that there would be a test on Thursday. One student missed the test on Thursday and returned to class on Friday. She had a note from her mom saying the student should be excused and allowed to take the test on her own time because Mom felt her daughter needed to go shopping on Thursday. Which taught that young lady exactly the wrong thing about education.

Teachers talking to parents can be stressful because both parties often have different starting points and, oddly, different goals.

See, parents want their kids to be loved for the very special little apples they really are. Teachers want the kids to be enthusiastic about learning, apply themselves, and progress cooperatively through the lessons.

You’d think those two paths would end up being parallel, but that’s often not the case. A loving parent who just knows his young dude is a special apple is going to find it hard to believe when his teacher says the student is disrupting the class or loudly telling everyone it doesn’t matter if they pass the test.

All of which can make for a difficult situation when parents and teachers have to work together for the betterment of the young dudes and dudettes in class.

So, as a public service, I thought I’d aggregate a couple of good bits of dialogue in which teachers talk to parents for you all to peruse.

Not now, of course. But come back tomorrow and we’ll talk a bit more.

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High School Students Sleeping In For Health

Teenagers aren’t lazy.

They don’t sleep late because they’re slug-a-beds, who’s only enthusiasm is for sleeping as long as possible. Biologically, they can’t help themselves. And having to go to a high school where classes start far too early in the a.m. doesn’t help either.

The four worst years of my life coincided with the four years Sarcasmo spent in high school.

His school started at 7:20 in the a.m. That meant he got up at 6:15 and I got up 15 minutes later, just in case. I barely made it through those four years and I know for a fact that the early start made Sarcasmo even crankier than he normally would have been.

Researchers have found that during adolescence, as hormones surge and the brain develops, teenagers who regularly sleep eight to nine hours a night learn better and are less likely to be tardy, get in fights or sustain athletic injuries. Sleeping well can also help moderate their tendency toward impulsive or risky decision-making.

That’s all well and good, but what teenager have you met who will be getting a regular eight to nine hours of sleep? Not many. After all, it seems like they can’t even force themselves to bed before 11 or 12 at night. It turns out that the reason for that late bed time isn’t just because teenagers are, by nature, prickly and annoying.

During puberty, teenagers have a later release of the “sleep” hormone melatonin, which means they tend not to feel drowsy until around 11 p.m. That inclination can be further delayed by the stimulating blue light from electronic devices, which tricks the brain into sensing wakeful daylight, slowing the release of melatonin and the onset of sleep. A Minnesota study noted that 88 percent of the students kept a cellphone in their bedroom.

That’s only one of the reasons I’ve been advocating for years that high schools need to start their days later. Teenagers’ biology basically prevents them from going to bed early enough to get the requisite hours of sleep each night. By starting school early, the school districts force teenagers into being perpetually sleep deprived.

Sure, stating high school later in the day might make sports practices end later and cut into time for some extracurricular activities or after-school jobs, but I think it’s a sacrifice that’s worth making. After all, the job of high schoolers is to excel in high school, so they can get to college and learn what’s necessary to get a good job. That’s much easier to do if they’ve been getting enough sleep every night.

New evidence suggests that later high school starts have widespread benefits. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied eight high schools in three states before and after they moved to later start times in recent years. In results released Wednesday they found that the later a school’s start time, the better off the students were on many measures, including mental health, car crash rates, attendance and, in some schools, grades and standardized test scores.

I think part of the problem with moving high school start times to later is that, for some reason, there’s this sense of being a macho manly type if you’re able to do without a lot of sleep. It’s as if folks believe that sleep is for weenies. Do we really need to start toughening up teenagers by depriving them of sleep and then demanding they perform as if they were well rested?

The University of Minnesota study tracked 9,000 high school students in five districts in Colorado, Wyoming and Minnesota before and after schools shifted start times. In those that originally started at 7:30 a.m., only a third of students said they were able to get eight or more hours of sleep. Students who got less than that reported significantly more symptoms of depression, and greater use of caffeine, alcohol and illegal drugs than better-rested peers.

“It’s biological — the mental health outcomes were identical from inner-city kids and affluent kids,” said Kyla Wahlstrom, a professor of educational research at the University of Minnesota and the lead author of the study.

If you’re a dude who, like me, thinks it’s time for schools to start actually making decisions that are good for their students, then you should head on over to Start School Later, an advocacy group for health and safety in education.

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Educated In The U.S.A.

I grew up and went to school in Texas.

My young dudes have grown up and gone to school in North Carolina. My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting A Bit Fed Up With This, grew up and went to school in Florida.

If the rankings of these respective states is to be believed, and I do, then it’s an astonishing miracle-like happening that any of the young dudes in our family can tie their shoelaces without drooling all over their shoes and forgetting what they’re supposed to be doing halfway through.

Education, in North Carolina, Texas and Florida is, to put it bluntly, being run on the cheap. Don’t believe me?

Here, check out this compelling infographic.

Produced By Best Education Degrees

Florida is the highest ranked of the three and it’s up there in the heady heights of 39th place, which is crappy at the very best.

I realize that not everything comes down to how much money gets spent on education, but it doesn’t help when our state government won’t put out the money to make a better school system. If we paid teachers more money, we could more easily retain the best teachers, those who would actually motivate students to learn and achieve more.

The results speak for themselves, I’m thinking. Money can’t buy you success, but it can sure make it easier for you to get there.

Talk to your state and local representatives today, dudes. Get on their case until they start spending enough to give our kids a real, first-class education.

For those of you interested in the provenance of the data, go ahead and click on the more button just down there.

Continue reading Educated In The U.S.A.

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