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Parenting Anxiety ~ What Are They Teaching Teachers?

Posted on Posted in Blog, School Rules and Processes

Parenting Anxiety ~ What Are They Teaching Teachers?


My son ran into the house last week yelling:
“Mommy! Mommy, I found a snake!”
I slammed the door behind him before I confirmed that his running was prompted by news of a snake sighting and not a snake chasing (I now know snakes don’t really chase people).  When my husband found another snake in the backyard the next day I declared that I, nor any other child in the house, could wander outside until my husband secured the premises with Snake-A-Way.
I figured that if I could stand at our mailbox and smell the potent vapors of mothballs from our backyard the premises were secure.  The kids played outside, rode their bikes and I didn’t give so much as a second or third paranoid glance at the ground.
And then my husband said, “What if the snakes come through the neighbor’s yard? The Snake-A -Way won’t help then.”
Suddenly I didn’t smell mothballs anymore. I could only hear my false sense of security shatter into pieces, buckling under the force of a full body weight chop from reality.  I hate when that happens.
I’ll admit it. Most times I allow taking precautions and following the rules to lull me into a false sense of parental security. It provides an anti-anxiety effect for dealing with more than snakes wandering around our house. Taking precautions for my children keeps my false sense of security from cracking when I think about issues like the achievement gap or the vortex-like impact of social class. Much like the Snake-a-way we hope to protect our children by surrounding them with:
But no matter how how many precautions taken or rules followed , my false sense of parental security still manages to be breached.  It happened just last week when I read a recent report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).  NCTQ found overall that:
  • It is far too easy to get into a teacher preparation programs.
  • Less than 10 percent of rated programs earn three stars or more.
  • 7 out of 10 programs did not adequately teach candidates how to teach reading.
  • Training in classroom management and the use of student data was lacking.
Most teacher education programs do not track the progress of novice teachers, nor the veteran teachers who return for professional development.  Understandably so, given that there is no real consensus on how to evaluate teachers (particularly in relationship to student’s results on standardized tests).
As an educator I know how hard it is to get a student to pass standardized tests. If you have ever spent at least five minutes trying to teach someone to tie their shoes you have a slice of a hint of how challenging it can be to get a teen or tween to understand the significance of  something like the Marshall Plan.
But, this time motherhood anxiety supersedes any educational claim on the uselessness and the difficulty of preparing students to pass standardized tests.  For this mother the bottom line is, right now, in schools tracking into honors/accelerated classes and colleges are dependent upon standardized tests. And I need my children to be prepared AND pass!
Until such time that teacher education programs figure out how to best train teachers and school districts and teachers agree on fair evaluations I, like every other parent, will have to depend on the luck of the draw.  Despite precautions and rule following there is not much I can do to keep our children out of a classroom where there maybe:
  • a revolving door of substitute teachers.
  • a teacher with no classroom management - at all.
  • a teacher on an improvement plan.
  • a teacher that has a record of disproportionately disciplining students of color or boys.  
  • a teacher who has not been able to get the majority of their students to pass the standardized test in five or more years (while others on their team have)
  • a teacher frustrated or unsupported by leadership (or lack thereof)
Just as I am not guaranteed our children are safe from snakes, dogs or strangers near our house, I am not guaranteed that our children will encounter a teacher up to par (and for the record no one knows really how many teachers are/are not).   I suppose then, I will just have to continue to secure the premises of my false sense of security with precautions, rule following and perhaps a few panoramic paranoid glances.


How about you? Any false sense of parental security when it comes to your child’s school?

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