Over the next few days, I will reveal problems which live in our educational system. Those situations represent all four points of view found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”: students, parents, teachers and administrators.

Problem #3: Yesterday my husband received an email from a former collegiate coach. He and his wife are dear friends of ours. Because of our friendship, I sent them my book.

He shared this with my husband: I read Paula’s book from cover to cover.  Wow – what a valuable addition to the role as well as the pitfalls of today’s teachers with what I would call practical solutions.  I have empathy for her and what she went through at the end of her career.  It is amazing how one or two people can end an amazing career that has been dedicated to the children of America and in helping them become successful, dedicated, caring, peace loving citizens of our great country. As I reflect back on my years as an educator, your wife’s career so parallels that of a coach as she and her students were so visible and subject to the whims of parents, administrators, and the public.  Without the support of administrators it sometimes becomes a hopeless cause. 

Yes, the whims of parents. I am a parent (and a grandparent). In all the years our son attended public schools and a university, I never resorted to the kind of attacks I received as an educator. Never. Not all of our son’s teachers conducted themselves in a professional manner. But I respected them as colleagues and chose not to chastise them privately or publicly. What is going on with today’s parents?

HELICOPTER PARENTS: These parents cannot allow their child to fail. They place themselves in committees, boards, and advisory roles. They helicopter close to their child and make sure said child is given more opportunities to succeed. That translates into prodding teachers to place their child in the higher academic group, the lead in the school play, the higher choir or the better sports team. I dealt with one parent in particular who was president of the PTO board and sat on the school advisory board. If I turned around too fast in my classroom, I would physically run into her.

LAWN MOWER PARENTS: This is the 21st century addition to parenting. Put quite simply, if they don’t get their way, they will mow over anyone standing in the path. When dealing with this new breed of parents, working with helicopter parents appeared easy. Lawn mower parents definitely impacted the sudden end to my career. These parents believe their child is blameless and that teachers are impeding their child’s success. They refuse to have face to face meetings when their child doesn’t succeed. Instead they hide behind their computers and level a salvo at a teacher, which ultimately crushes the teacher’s spirit.

IN ABSENTIA PARENTS: Yes, it could be said these are the easiest parents to work with because quite frankly, they don’t care about their child’s schooling. One evening after a concert, one of my singers complained she didn’t have a ride home. I asked her why her parents didn’t attend the concert. Her reply: they really don’t enjoy performances. I took her home only to view both parents sitting in the living room watching TV. They couldn’t even carve out enough time to pick their daughter up after the concert concluded. Whereas these parents seldom cause problems, their lack of attention is not conducive to producing a well-adjusted, high achieving child.

Did I miss the ENTITLED PARENT? No. This aspect of parenting manifests itself in either helicoptering over their child and the teacher or mowing the teacher down. For the record, the majority of parents are thoughtful, kind and supporting in their day to day dealings with teachers. Unfortunately it is the few who cause educators the most stress and hardship.

How do you deal with these types of parents? Can you do it alone? The common denominator when dealing with parents is the administrator. Is he able to protect his staff from parents whose points of view are skewed? When push comes to shove, will he support the teacher over the parent? Great questions. Take a break and enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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