Thursday, February 18, 2016

Teachers, Good Job!

“What about the parents? If they spoil their child at home there is nothing we can do here. When student become a problem in the classroom the root of the issue is poor parenting.” I often hear these comments from teachers. “Blame them, not us. We can’t do miracles and undo parents’ mistakes.”

There is no doubt that good parenting skills are crucial to quality education. And that’s why I write in these blogs about parenting all the time. There are indeed selfish, absent and neglectful parents. Some parents belligerently take their children’s side in any dispute: “My son is being picked on.” “The teacher is not fair.” “The classroom rules are stupid.” Sometimes, they threaten lawsuits and show up on campus shouting and demanding to talk to the Principal, which creates a climate of fear.
But other parents are just overwhelmed or lack quality education themselves. Therefore, I think it is not fair to blame parents for any student who frustrates teachers and school aides.  I believe that the “blame the parents” approach doesn’t move us forward.

In my every day work I visit a number of classrooms each week and it’s great to see effective teachers who don’t need to blame the parents. They understand that sometimes, the school is the only stable space in struggling students’ life and so, what happens in the classroom can be a life-changing experience.

Teachers are expected to teach, of course. But also tend to the social needs of children wrapped by instability, poverty and family dysfunction. Only good teachers succeed in this challenging mission.

So, what makes good teacher?

-        Patience, for sure, and lots of it.
-        Knowledge. It is be very helpful when they master the art of motivation and the power of stimulating and structured instructional routines. Instead of forcing the kids to fit their way of teaching, they have to be able to change their way of teaching to fit their students’ needs. Children with special needs do not learn the way we teach, so we need to teach the way they learn.

But more than anything the good teachers share a crucial feature: passion. They are passionate
about their jobs. They wouldn’t change it for anything else.

I’d like to contribute with a few of suggestions:
1.      Teachers must be carefully selected.
2.      Teachers must be trained and supervised on an ongoing basis.
3.      Teachers have to be motivated by competitive salaries.
4.      Teachers must be supported by favorable work environments.

The system should reward good teachers. Parents should acknowledge and thank them. And fight for these teachers if their kids have one of the others.  

Daniel Adatto, BCBA

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