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Teacher Resolves to Focus on the Bright Side of Parent Involvement

Over the break I had lunch with friends who are also teachers. I have a lot of friends in education, which is good and bad. Good because it gives me a chance to bounce professional stuff off people whose opinion I trust. Bad because just about all I talk about at any given point in time is professional stuff.

At one point we partook in our annual lamenting of the atrocious behavior of parents of the children in our schools. We swapped horror stories: A mother who hovers at the door of her fifth-grader’s classroom each morning to make sure he puts his homework in the right bin;

a mother who left work to bring lunch to her daughter because the second-grader didn’t like what was being served in the cafeteria that day; a mother and father who have a folder for each of their fourth-grader’s subjects, into which they place every paper sent home. They also take notes, have a vocabulary section, and demand daily correspondence with teachers. Complainers, whiners, second-guessers ... it went on and on. And on.

And so I wonder, where’s the line between involved and, well, over-involved?

Recently I encountered a set of parents who described themselves as "passionate." Being a part of your child’s education is a really good thing, don’t get me wrong. But I’m wondering what the payoff is for parents who choose to be so engrossed that they complete homework for their student, or argue over a grading policy, or demand a redo on a test because their child had a bad day?

It’s good to get these things off our chests now and again. We vent, we let go, we go home and work on lesson plans and research cool projects and spend Christmas money on things our districts can’t afford to buy for us. This time, though, we decided to end our lunch with some wine and a toast to all you parents who make our jobs rock. We told stories of the wonderful deeds of wonderful parents, and decided to begin the New Year with gratitude to spare. We figured maybe if we oozed good energy, equal amounts would bounce back to us.

I’m happy to report I haven’t heard one negative thing from any friends after six days of school. I’m not sure if our theory is working or not, but I’d like to believe it is. I have a meeting with parents tomorrow to discuss our uniform policy. I’m positive they’re going to compliment our choices and offer to work the uniform store on Saturdays.

By Sharon Linde, teacher and education blogger for SmartParenting