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De Parte del Maestro

By Josh Flores


Algo para los padres (something for the parents).

With the school year now in full swing, I have decided to stray a bit from my normal writing audience.  This article is not intended para los jovenes, instead this week I am writing directly to los padres (the parents). 


The reason I elected to write the parents is from an educator’s perspective very simple—you need to know what I am about to tell you. As a teacher, my job is to teach your children to the best of my ability; however, I only represent a part of the team.  The other members are tus hijos and equally important you.


The formula for student success

So there it is, the three most important players in a student’s success: teacher, student, and parent. While I am charged with serving as the guiding light in a student’s pursuit of education my efforts can easily be trumped by the parent. 


Allow me to elaborate—if what I am promoting in my classroom is not supported by the parent, then unless a student is extremely self-motivated, there is a strong chance that the student will not value their education. 


To the contrary, if a parent shows an interest in their child’s education, the student will naturally develop an appreciation for the educational system.  This holds true for many things that parents value.  Parents serve as the primary model for their children. What this means is that whether we like it or not our children will reflect many of our values, tendencies, and habits, both the good and the bad. 


Express the importance of education

Whether you have earned multiple college degrees, a G.E.D., or didn’t quite make it through high school, you can still have a positive influence on your child’s education.  One of the issues that I have dealt with over my ten years as an educator is the struggle to retain students. 


The dropout rate for Latinos and students in urban schools is a serious dilemma.  I recently conducted some research as part of my graduate studies about the educational achievements of parents and grandparents of my students.  What I found was startling—the dropout rate of the parental population was almost equal to the current dropout rate of the school.


So what does the data mean?  Very simply, if a student’s parent did not finish high school, then the chances that they will finish high school are not very good.  Despite this trend I am optimistic that change can occur with a focused effort to push nuestros jovenes to excel in the realm of education.




Get involved, stay involved

As a parent, you are entitled to access to your child’s education in every aspect.  As a teacher, I love nothing more than to have a parent, who takes a vested interest in their child’s schooling.  Let me stress that there is a big difference between being involved and being overbearing. 


Here are my suggestions for positive and productive involvement:


First, if there is a parent organization such as PTO, PTA, or booster club, join it.  I know that you may have a job that poses limitations on your involvement, but do what you can.  When school administrators and teachers see your effort to be involved they will likely be more aware of your child and their progress.


Be visible

Be sure to show up to as many school events as possible.  From Open House to athletic contests, when a parent is seen in and around the school, your student will see first-hand that you are an integral part of their education. 


Ask questions

This component has two aspects.  First ask your student about their schooling daily.  Don’t just ask ‘how was school?’  The answer you will get is ‘fine’, ‘okay’, something to that effect. 


Ask open ended questions like: ‘What did you learn in class X today?’ ‘What test are quizzes do you have this week?’ ‘What are your classes/teachers like?’ ‘What is your favorite or least favorite class and why?’  These will all provide you with great insight into your student’s education and it will send a clear message that you care about what they are doing in school and will be held accountable.


Check their progress

Beyond simply asking your child how or what they are doing in school, it is important that you are well informed of their academic progress.  Most schools send home progress or mid-term reports half way through the grading period. 


At the elementary level, schools hold parent-teacher conferences.  I would suggest making a list of potential questions to take to the conference about the things that are most important to you regarding your child’s education.  By being involved early in the school year, you will set a tone with both your child and the school they attend that you are a parent who cares about their student’s academics.


Be real

I know that tus hijos son angelitos en casa or maybe not.  But it is important that you are realistic about the fact that once your child steps out of that door they may take on a totally different persona.  I have seen countless instances where parents enter a school at the defense of their child only to find that they were only hearing one side of the story.  

Young people are masterful at playing one side against the other when it comes to parents and the school.  I am not suggesting that your student is always wrong; I am simply cautioning that how you approach a situation could determine the outcome. 


As an educator I feel that I am dedicating myself to the youth and the community as a whole.  Nothing is more discouraging then when a parent comes in and has already made up their mind that their student is innocent no matter what.  I recommend that you simply remain open minded about the potential that your child might just be wrong.


Be that parent

I hope that this has provided some useful insight as to how you can fully support your child’s education, while simultaneously serving as one the educational system’s most precious and valuable assets, an involved parent. ¡Hasta la próxima vez!


 I would love to hear from you about my column please send me feedback or let me know if there is something you would like me to write about.  You can e-mail me at [email protected]. ¡Gracias por tu apoyo!






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