Friday, November 20, 2015

VENT: An Open Letter to Helicopter Moms

 "Just love" by renee. - unconditional.. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Dear Helicopter Mom,

I know you care about your child. I know you want the very best for them. I know you have their best interests at heart, and you want, more than anything in the world, to see them succeed. As a high school teacher, I am also watching your child grow up and want the exact same things for them. I really, really do.

I'm reading the email you sent, pointing out that your child failed their test. I am aware. I JUST entered the grade. Your child has barely gotten the aforementioned test back and has probably not even decided how he wants to proceed – to come to tutorials and correct it, or no? Have you talked through his options with him? After all, he is the one responsible for raising the test grade. 

I just listened to the phone call and voicemail you left concerning your child’s overall grade. It is not necessary. We’re only halfway through the grading period – she has time to get that grade up. Please talk to your child about HER plans for raising this grade because that's what it comes down to - your child's plan for their grade.
I just read the text message you sent, berating me over your child’s placement in an extracurricular activity or sport for which he tried out. I can’t really help you, I’m afraid.  I know you feel that if you yell enough, you will get what you want from me – but your child's placement is the result of a try-out, of an audition. Therefore, it’s the result of what your child put forth while he was being judged. And, more often than not, I had nothing to do with it. So please stop yelling at me. Maybe talk to your child about how his audition went? It is his performance in the audition that determined placement, nothing more.

What you don’t see, dear helicopter mom, is what I do during all of my supposed “spare time.”  You don't see all of the late evenings I stay at school to finish grading everything, which includes double checking grades and math to make sure everything is accurate. You don't see all of the extra hours spent ensuring all audition or tryout groups are randomized so every student is on equal footing going into an audition. You don't see all of the work that goes on in the background preparing students for an audition, much less the actual running of said audition.

I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell me how to do my job. Teaching is not just baby-sitting, after all. (I’m pretty sure baby-sitters make more money than teachers.) I spent a good amount of time going to school and training to do my job to the best of my ability, but - I truly mean no offense by this - it’s rather unlikely that you know my subject better than I do. I have been hired as a professional and would appreciate being treated as one.

I would also appreciate it if you would recognize the fact that your student is in high school, and is, therefore, well into his journey toward adulthood. Isn’t it about time to let him make his own mistakes? Isn’t it about time you let her decide what kind of student she wants to be and to take charge of her own grades? How else are these kids going to figure themselves out if you hover around, questioning their decisions, or just making decisions for them, all the time? I guess this is really the main point of this entire vent. At some point, kids have to know how to handle life's ups and downs themselves.

If you step back a bit, and trust in the morals and tenets you’ve (presumably) instilled in them throughout their childhood, you might find a young man or a young woman you can be proud of. I know I enjoy watching them grow every day. I would hope you do, too.

 A Teacher Who Wants the Best for Your Child

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