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FOLIO LINE FOLIO LINE M c C l a t c h y - Tr i b u n e

motiva n,
tion, pa
and co
are key

Bushouse, Sun S
By Kathy
d en ts return to c for a
nds of stu equired
Communication s thousa one critical item r need to be held accountable for their
es, there
’s acher. kids’ education as much as a teacher
This is key: Whether by e-
l y ea r: a good te ur child is.”
mail or telephone, through par-
ent informational sessions, open
successfu do you know if yo Parents can track their children’s
But how progress through online gradebooks,
houses or even classroom one-size-
newsletters, good teachers will let has one? rs don’t come in a perts
where teachers input students’ grades
you know what’s going on in
h ile g o od teach
e q ua lities that ex ica- on homework and tests. On those
W ere ar mmun sites, parents can sign up for e-mail
class and how your child is doing.
ts -all pa ckage, th ok for: A good co ate alerts when their children’s grades dip
Parents should pay attention to fi Lo n
niversal. o’s passio below a certain level, and contact
what they receive from teachers at say are u ator. Someone wh ows concern for teachers if there is a problem.
tiv nd sh
tor. A mo
the beginning of the school year,
subject a ts into
said Nancy Self, clinical assistant
t h is o r he r
w e lc o m es paren to What if there’s
professor at abo
ts . S o m eone who to work with them
Texas A&M studen ants a problem?
r o om and w
University’s the c la ss
a c hie ve. ine w he ther your If there is a conflict, make sure to
en ts eterm
help stud -
ways to d do if prob
talk to the teacher first. Suggest a
of Teaching, re s o m e wh a t to phone conversation or a conference,
Here a her, and
Learning and
h a s a g ood teac and approach teachers “with an atti-
Culture. Good child tude of ‘How can we solve this
E-mail is one way
teachers will
lems aris problem?’” Self said.
communicate Don’t disrespect the teacher in
good teachers frequently front of your child or give any indica-
communicate with with parents, tion you don’t trust the teacher. “This
be partners in helping children
parents. sending home simply fuels the problem, causes the
about life and their own learn.
letters and updates on what’s been Suzy Martyn, author of “Enjoy child to give up or to be a behavior
experiences as well as the
covered in class and what’s planned the Ride: Tools, Tips, and problem in the classroom,” Self said.
Pythagorean theorem or the
for the weeks ahead. Inspiration for the Most Common “The problem is then more difficult to
meaning of irony.”
Jeanne Jusevic, chairwoman of Parenting Challenges” (Mother’s resolve.”
If a teacher is motivating,
Broward (Fla.) District Advisory Friend Publishing, $12.95), said If the trouble lies in conflicting
chances are students will still be
Council — a group that advises the parental support — through vol- personalities, Martyn advises parents
talking about projects, experiments
county’s school board on policy unteer time or sending in class- to try to be patient. She suggests
or other lessons after school, said
issues — points to one of her chil- room supplies — is very impor- being open and talking to children
Julie Fanning, whose son is a student
dren’s former math teachers, who tant in developing a relation- about what they can learn from their
in Royal Palm Beach, Fla. She
would e-mail parents to alert them of ship with teachers. teachers.
thinks you can tell children
upcoming tests, then send parents the “One thing I know for certain is Should the conflict be over a
have good teachers “when
test curve so they knew how their that the parents’ attitude, participa- grade, parents can help by holding on
your child’s excited to go to
children did compared with the tion, openness and support can really to their children’s homework, tests
school and you’re not having to
rest of the class. go a long way,” Martyn said. “No and projects until the end of a grading
drag them out of bed in the morning,
With such teach- matter what type of teacher you have, period, Jusevic said. She photocopies
(or) when they come home and talk
ers, “you know right even if it’s someone who is really assignments and saves a copy so she
about what a great day that they had.”
away, they’re looking hard to work with, if they feel sup- has proof of their grades in case
to partner, to have a home connection Pay attention, ported by a parent, it’s hard not to something is lost, and uses online
so they can build a relationship,” bring out the best in them.” gradebooks to keep track of scores.
Jusevic said. get involved Teachers want parents Should talking with the teacher not
Indeed, parents should look for to get involved, said Jeb work, parents can seek out a principal
Keeping it signs from their children to gauge Handwerger, a math teacher or assistant principal for help, said
teacher performance, such as whether at Hollywood Hills (Fla.) High Judith Klinek, a former mid-
interesting children enjoy school, make academic School. He suggested parents reach dle school principal who is
A teacher’s passion for the subject progress and feel respected by their out early, attending open houses or now an assistant superintend-
and for helping students is a good teachers, Self said. other parent nights to meet teachers ent for the Palm Beach County
indicator of how effective that teacher Another sign: Parents are welcome and give them their phone numbers (Fla.) School District.
is, said Elizabeth Yagodzinski, an in the classroom. Self said good and e-mail addresses. Once an administrator works with
instructional designer at Lynn teachers want parents to volunteer in “We can have more parent involve- a teacher to settle parents’ concerns,
University’s Institute for Distance the class or for class projects, and to ment,” Handwerger said. “Parents “I do believe 99.9 percent of any
Learning. “Good issues are resolved at that point,”
teachers love their Klinek said. Rarely do parents come
subject and love back to request a switch to a different
being in the classroom, she said.
classroom,” Such intervention is
Yagodzinski said. more common at the ele-
That means mentary school level,
getting creative since students spend
— wearing a most of their time
toga during les- with one teacher,
sons on Klinek said. And
ancient Greece, often, the problems
for example. Or emerge during the
it may involve a first week or two of
teacher bringing school, when chil-
personal experi- dren are adjusting to
ences into the a new routine.
classroom. She urged patience.
Student Doug Hall “We often tell the par-
said teachers are “better ent, ‘Give it a week,’”
at getting things Klinek said. “‘If you’re still
across when not happy after a
we learn week, call.’”
B O B F I L A / C H I C AG O T R I B U N E / M C T