A Break in the Link

Twenty-four hours after the end of the 2010-11 school year finds me still trying to analyze why this year was so difficult. Why was it that so many students in the past group were such a challenge? Did my teaching change? Is my tolerance level low? Have I lost “it”?

The more I think about it, there were things that I had no control over that impacted the dynamic of this classroom more than I imagined. Teaching in an urban district comes with challenges of trauma – social, familial, economic. Sometimes these are easy to surmount, but often they are not.

When school works best, there is a partnership between student, teacher and parent. When one of those links is broken or dysfunctional, the possibility of success is lessened — this is what I believe. The value of an education is undermined when there is lack of support from home.

Within the group that has just moved on, there were quite a few broken links in this triumvirate: children who did not have the medication that would enable them to focus (enough times that it started to seem as if the parent was purposefully withholding). Children who did not arrive at school on time, not by a few minutes, but by hours and missed valuable lessons. Children who did not arrive, period. Absenteeism of 25, 30, 40 days of school. That’s a considerable amount of time away from school when no reason was offered.

School works best when there is a partnership. We did the best we could together, broken link or not. But I am so hoping that next year things are more cohesive, that I can convince parents – engaged or disaffected – that without their involvement, interest, and input their student cannot achieve all that they are capable.

2 thoughts on “A Break in the Link

  1. Amy, I agree with you! We need families on board (and in the classroom).

    I often wonder if parents know that they have the right, (and responsibility), to question their child’s education. By that, I mean…do they realize that they are welcome to, (STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO), work right along with us as we head through those 180 days that we ‘share custody’ of their most prized treasures.

    I am working summer school this year and we just finished making home visits, (we called ahead to ask if they would mind us dropping by), to each and EVERY family enrolled in our summer school program. We did not go alone, we went in teacher pairs. We left each child with a brand new book to keep; the whole experience was a great success!

    I am already planning to do home visits late August- just before the school year begins in September. I believe it will be a worthy investment in our classroom community.

    Thank you for always inspiring me through your well written (and passionate) blog posts. 😀

  2. Thank you for inspiring ME! I’ve read a lot of Jonathan Kozol’s writings — he advocates the same thing; I’ve usually tried to call each parent during the first couple of school days, but a home visit — there’s nothing like face to face is there? I like the idea of pairing up. That sounds like a terrific idea!

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