Back to school means the beginning of new relationships. Kids make new friends and develop new crushes. Teachers have to memorize a new slate of kids' names. And parents meet the new teacher.
The parent-teacher relationship can be fragile but friendly at its best and downright disrespectful at its worst. But one educator is trying to start the year on the right foot by composing a frank letter to parents.
Titled "What teachers really want to tell parents," Ron Clark – a celebu-teacher, founder of his namesake private school in Atlanta and overall "phenomenal man" as deemed by Oprah – outlines all the ways parents can interfere and subvert the work teachers are trying to accomplish in the classroom. But he also tries to provide some solutions for lessening the tension between parents and teachers.
"Trust us," he writes. "At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting."
Mr. Clark also suggests that parents drop the excuses they use to defend a child's poor performance, to not question grades and to not believe everything their child says happens in the classroom.
"And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor," he pleads. "I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labelling him a criminal."
He also reveals what he believes is a little known fact: that many teachers who toss around As do it so they don't have to deal with parents.
"The article does come off, in places, as if the teacher is always right," says Betsy Shaw in a post on Momformation blog.
But Ms. Shaw, who admits to having once taught herself, does think that Mr. Clark's advice could help ease the "us-against-them" attitude that a lot of parent-teacher relationships devolve into.
Not all parents, however, are so open to Mr. Clark's unsolicited advice.
One mother, who was commenting on Ms. Shaw's blog, wrote that there is one thing she wishes teachers knew: that they play a supportive, supplementary role.
"I was really irked that the general attitude in my [early childhood]courses was an attitude that the teacher knows better than the parent," writes the mom.
Do you think parents are too quick to take the child's side and fight a teacher? Or are teachers too sensitive when receiving criticism from parents?