Back To School Night

Last night was Back to School Night. We have it the night before school starts. I like it this way. It helps to alleviate a lot of anxiety for both teachers and students – and I’d suspect some parents too.

Facetime Back to SchoolI’m no stranger to Back to School Night. I’ve done them for over 20 years. However, last night I had a first. And the nerd in me was so excited! A mom came to me with her phone explaining that the father couldn’t be there but wanted to participate. She had him on Facetime! We were able to introduce ourselves, talk for a bit, and have a ‘regular’ Back to School Night!

It’s the little things that make us happy. Being able to stay connected to parents is so important. I’m glad dad was able to ‘attend’. It make everyone’s night!

Dear Parents: About Your Child’s ID Card

School has started up again or will be in the near future. This leads to many parents posting First Day Photos. We all love them, well, maybe not the older students, but they humor most parents with a small smile before grumbling. And then the new student i.d.’s arrive. Parents are proud of many of the milestones their children are achieving. I have seen photos of some of the i.d. cards. I am a bit shocked…

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Dear Parents,

We all love seeing that new i.d. of your child’s. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you have raised a great child and they have reached high school, are in their Senior year, or are in Middle School, or whatever grade. However, I must ask, why are you posting a photo with ALL information of your child online? I know, it’s probably not something you have thought about.

Just think about this for a moment. When you post a photo of that brand new i.d. without blocking information you have just shown the world the following information:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • School name (possibly city where school is located)
  • Grade (which leads to age)
  • Teacher’s name (in some cases)
  • Picture of child
  • Possible i.d. number (or some variation)
  • QR Code or Bar Code (with who knows what information)

If you’re still not sure why this is a bad thing, think about a stranger calling you and asking your child’s full name, school, location of school, grade, their teacher’s name, a picture of your child (to send electronically), and any other additional information they may want. Would you give them this information? Probably not. Well, by posting the i.d.’s without blocking some of the information, you just gave (who knows how many) strangers that information. If it’s put on the Internet, it can be found.

So parents, we do want to see those great photos: first day, i.d.’s, special moments, but we want to keep everyone safe. So please, block important information.

Thank you.

Homework Parents Like

Tonight we had our Back to School Night. School starts tomorrow and as per tradition, we hold our Back to School Night the night before school starts. It’s smart. It’s a long day for us teachers, but I really like it.

During the Welcome presentation, I talked about homework. As usual, parents politely listened to my spiel. I’m sure that what I said about homework was NOT something they had expected. It’s 5th grade. They’ve heard it all before – expectations, do homework, come to school on time, yadda, yadda, yadda. However, this year my partner teacher and I agreed that we needed to do something different with homework. So, we created this (make a copy of your own):

I began by asking how many of them had signed a homework log/reading log either knowing that their child did NOT do the homework, or weren’t even sure if their child did the homework. At first, most were hesitant to admit it. Fortunately, my translator’s daughter is in my class this year. She eagerly raised her hands. That got the ball rolling. I then went on to say that I don’t always check the homework, and the kids don’t always take their time and will rush by putting anything. I then explained our proposed homework. I read some examples and pointed out that there would be no fighting and no tears for this year’s homework. This led to several parents openly smiling at the idea, commenting on what a great idea it was, and how happy they were with it.

My principal is more nervous with this idea. He fears that we are not preparing students for high school. But, um, they are 10. They are in 5th grade. And high schools need to change their focus too. High schools have clubs where students indulge in their passions. Hm, maybe more elementary schools should have passion focused clubs.

I am optimistic that this will be a success. I explained to parents that we would like each child to read 20 pages daily. I am hopeful that with this user-friendly homework, parents and students will honor the 20 pages. At the very least, parents have this year to relax and have peaceful evenings knowing that there will be no fighting over homework.

 

Homework: We STILL Hate It

homework [url=https://flic.kr/p/r6shHf][img]https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8610/16470630808_ff856fd3bc_z.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/r6shHf]”I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” – Author Unknown[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/]Brian Metcalfe[/url], on Flickr

 

I’ve been thinking more about Homework and why I hate it so much. Then, I began to look at it from different standpoints: teacher, student, parent.

Why Teachers Hate Homework

No, I do NOT speak for all teachers. In fact, I know several teachers who advocate homework. This is a collection of reasons I have heard several teachers make:

  • The parents end up doing it for the kids.
  • We have to take time out of our learning day to correct it.
  • The same kids consistently DON’T complete the homework. It becomes a (losing) battle.
  • If we don’t correct it together, I have to take time out to do this menial task.
  • [at middle school] One kid does the homework and their friends copy it before school starts.
  • [at middle school] The kids stopped hiding the fact that they copy it.
  • The kids who need the practice either don’t do it or do it wrong.
  • The kids who don’t need the practice do it – what a waste of time for them.

Why Students Hate Homework

Yes, there are some students who like homework.

  • It’s boring
  • Who wants to do a worksheet?
  • It’s too hard and there is no one at home to help them.
  • They are in charge of younger siblings.
  • They may have several responsibilities to do once they get home.
  • They’d rather be playing (wouldn’t we all?)
  • It’s not meaningful.

Some other points I thought of:

  • Not all students have a home to complete their work.
  • Not all homes have a quiet space to complete work.
  • This is an intrusion on family time. As a teacher, I get upset when a parent tries to intrude in my area (classroom).
  • If I were to work all day, like the students do, and then were asked to go home and do more work on my time, I’d be a bit put-out.

Why Parents Hate Homework

Yes, there are some parents who request more (and I have my own thoughts on that).

  • It becomes a nightly battle.
  • There is yelling, screaming, and crying. Who wants that in their home?
  • It can take ‘forever’
  • Everyone is tired when they get home.
  • You have to find the ‘right’ time to do homework.
  • There is always something to do – ballet, baseball, etc.
  • It’s frustrating
  • The higher kids get more homework

Thank you to Amy (Jenkins) Shwartzhoff for her insight from the parent perspective.