Kindergarten Teacher

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Start Believing In Parents Like You Believe In Their Kids

01_02 Dad House-101

I am challenging everyone to stop saying that parents don’t value education or that parents don’t care. Stop saying it for any reason! I expect a few people will try to provide examples of situations that prove a certain set of parents don’t care but I won’t listen. Yes, there are bad people out there and situations that make it very difficult to “believe” but what I am asking is for all teachers to ignore that and carry on as if all parents do care. Because I think 99.9999% of parents do value education, they just might not show it in ways that are typical or be able to show it in ways you are accustomed to. Maybe they had a bad experience in school, maybe they feel embarrassed, maybe it is cultural, maybe they work three jobs, just maybe. I believe that all of my kids can be successful and I believe that each one of them can achieve in my classroom. I think all teachers can yell that from the rooftops. It is important that we have the same blind faith in parents because when we start doubting them we are undermining a crucial aspect of student success. Parents matter, they are an important part of the success of our students. What can we do to support the parents that need us most? We ask that question about the kids in our classroom but I wonder if we ask it about the parents.

That old man in the picture above is my Dad (with my oldest son.) He never went to conferences, never signed papers, never read with me or helped me with homework or science projects. Mainly because he couldn’t or he felt like he couldn’t. My Dad migrated from Mexico picking cotton as a kid and his schooling was not extensive. He can fix or repair just about anything but struggles with spelling and writing to this day. There are reasons he wasn’t involved but I know he valued my education despite never showing that to my teachers.

You might never know the experiences, situations or backgrounds of the families coming to you so give them the benefit of the doubt every time.

26 Responses to Start Believing In Parents Like You Believe In Their Kids

  1. Fantastic blog post! Parents do the best they can with the cards they are dealt. Our school has a strong Parent University and works alongside parents as they learn the ins and outs of a school that probably is very different from one they attended. Thanks for your support of parents.

  2. Miss Night says:

    I love you for this post, my friend. You are so right, and when we dismiss parents, we do a huge disservice to our kids. So many times, my opinions about a parent have changed once I REALLY listened to their story. Thank you for saying the things that many teachers are afraid to say. You are a hero.

  3. Great reminder. Like your father, my mother worked in the fields. As a child, she taught me that an education could lead to success.

  4. Jay Posick says:

    Matt,
    The parents send us their best. The parents do their best. We need to do the same. I can’t agree more with your post.
    Jay

  5. This. This is perfect, Matt.

  6. Nicole says:

    Wow! Well said, and perfect just in time for parent conferences. Thank you!

  7. Emily Roden says:

    You say it so well in this post! We are trying to model that for parents. We feel like sometimes all parents need is a prompt. http://readyrosiedemo.com/ready-rosie-intro-video/

  8. I totally agree! I teach on a Native American Reservation in Idaho and with the high poverty and my willingness to beleive in ALL parents many have walked away from me so proud of their kids and willing to help because I trust in them and know they want what’s best for their child as we all do for our own, just talking and listening goes a long way, even to those who may be having a hard time, they still want better for their child, I can get parents to come in and talk to me even if they are high or drunk because they sense a trust that I understand that they do love their child. (Now in the end I love their child more and if they break my trust over the child’s welfare and safety comes first) I’m rambling but just wanted you to know that from where I teach I wish more people understood that parents do care.

  9. kf70 says:

    Thank you Matt for inspiring the best in everyone.

  10. Couldn’t agree more Matt. Will be sharing this lots. Thank you.

  11. Deborah says:

    Bravo! Thanks, Matt! I always value what you share with us.

  12. Samantha says:

    What a great message to put out into the world, Matt. It’s easy to assume the worst of people, without really knowing the whole story. We do need to put faith and trust in parents as well as children. The parents are sending us their precious children every day. Not knowing how best to help at home or how to be involved in school doesn’t mean they don’t care.

  13. Liz Moore says:

    Wonderful message. Thank you. Teachers struggle with that kind of negativity everyday. Important reminder.

  14. Wendy says:

    Thanks Matt. I believe that parents send us “their best kids” … they don’t keep their better ones on a shelf for a rainy day! Same is true for our parents … they are the best that they can be in any given moment and circumstance. Why would they keep there best self hidden away? We need to meet them where they are at and know they too want what is best for their children.

  15. Jamie Jones says:

    Preach on!

  16. Matt I work in children’s homes as an early interventionist. Our job is to to support and guide the parent in supporting their child’s development. It is much easier to accomplish this with some parents than others. Rather than judge we need to think harder and be creative. It is the parents who are struggling who need us the most and we do a disservice to the child and family if we give up or write off the parent. We need to live by the basic belief that parents want what is best for their children and meet them where they are at. Thanks for the post.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Yes Jodi! At times we have to be very creative. I know that can be a drain at times but it is crucial to find ways to support those parents that need us most! Thanks for the comment

  17. Debbie says:

    I often read your posts but have not stopped to respond. Your words really resonate with me. I am so moved by this response as both a parent and an educator. We are better when we all work together “Parents, Students, Educators”. Thank you for this post.

  18. Love this, Matt. Your experience as a teacher, a parent, and a son makes this a valuable message. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Melissa Newman says:

    Yes. And they are often exhausted working 12 to 14 hour days. Falling asleep as they try to listen to their child read.

  20. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I hope that every teacher, everywhere, reads it. I am a speech-language pathologist but, more importantly, the mom of a teenager with Asperger’s and ADHD. He is not in any way a typical kid, although his IQ is high enough that “typical” is what has often been expected of him. I have discovered that he is a litmus test for good teaching, and he has had some amazing teachers who could really reach and teach him. His very best teacher ever had a special needs child herself and understood how to reach all kids, promoting a calm, quiet and organized classroom environment while having different “agreements” with different kids based on their abilities.

    On the down side, I have often been blamed outright or felt the cold shoulder from teachers who apparently thought that his unusual social skills, disorganization, anxiety, lack of motivation, difficulty writing, etc., was somehow due to our parenting or home life. Interestingly, I have always received lots of positive reinforcement from professionals who deal with kids like him all of the time (i.e. his psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists) but not necessarily from teachers. There is a real difference between how his teachers interact with me and how his sister’s teachers interact with me. No, I did not teach him to be like this — he was born this way, and we are doing the best we can at home with no help from extended family.

    Unless a teacher sees an obviously unhealthy home situation, which they must react to, they should withhold judgment on the family and understand that most people are doing the best they can for their kids. I have a lot of friends with children, and not one of them is shirking their responsibilities as a parent, although some of them have other very difficult circumstances in their lives. Parenting is extremely difficult, and parents need real partners at school who are willing to see things from their point of view.

    Our pediatrician’s office staff was specifically trained not to judge parents, and I think it made for a professional work atmosphere, a kinder staff, and a willingness on the side of the parents to open up. It would be great if schools had the same philosophy.

  21. Veronica says:

    Matt thank you for sharing your story and picture of your dad. I have always worked in title I schools where most of our parents are over worked and will still do what they can with what they have. There is great research from Luis Moll on Funds of knowledge and how it can help validate parents who offer a different set of strengths. One example was one of my student’s mom who came and taught us the tricks to making fluffy flour tortillas during our measurement unit in second grade. Mom was not one to use measurement tools but when given a challenge that was familiar to her she rose to the occasion. The look on her son’s face was priceless! My belief is that you validate the parents you are validating the student x 10!

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