Top 4 Things Teachers Want to Tell Parents

A month ago, I had the pleasure to speak in front of and conduct a training on better communication skills with parents and students with the teachers teaching in overseas Filipino schools in Doha, Qatar. At the beginning of the workshop, the teachers recalled experiences with parents who were very challenging to handle. These teachers, like the rest of the teachers around the world, have encountered the fury of the tiger mom, the non-stop calls of the helicopter father, the unfair demand of the snowflake mother, and well, the absence of the ghost dad. While most of the encounters ended in the most diplomatic and desirable ways, a few teachers noted how an experience with a difficult parent could be “traumatic” and “nerve-wracking.”

If given the chance to send parents short, sweet, and thoughtful messages, what would you tell them? I conducted a little survey with teachers in my network and here are the top four messages they would want to tell the parents.

1. “We are the teachers. Our job is to teach your children.”

This simply re-establishes that teachers are the teachers. Some parents forget or simply takes this for granted as they make unreasonable demands to teachers for their children. Sometimes, there are parents who act like they know or think better than the teacher. This is may be alright if done with the proper boundaries and communicated properly. However, some parents would go further and really make the teacher or the school, in general, feel that what they are doing in the classrooms are inadequate. In a few words, teachers are just asking for trust that, as teachers, we know what we are doing in their classrooms.

2. “Praise your children in times of success.”

Take time to celebrate the successes of your children. We mean every accomplishment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s little or momentous. It’s still an accomplishment which your children have really worked hard for. Praise them. Reward them, if you like. However, in between the praises and celebrations, teach your children about the importance of humility.

 3. “Teach your children that it is ok to fail.”

Failure is part of learning. It is unfortunate though that some parents would “not allow” their children to fail or to commit mistakes while learning. This kind of mindset in parents drives an unhealthy message to children. In school, students cry for one or two mistakes in test, feel bad about themselves, and develop anxiety or fear towards their parents. Yet, life clearly tells us that in order to become better or to learn more, we need to commit mistakes. We need to experience failure because it is in failing what we get to know more of ourselves and develop life skills that would help us cope up with bigger failures or challenges that would come our way in the future, in the real world outside the four walls of the classroom.

4. “My classroom is open for visits.”

Teachers aim to develop and foster a collaborative and supportive relationship with the parents of their students. In order to do this, we invite our parents to visit us in the school, send us a message, or call us. We can have a short chat on how we can make the school better for you children. However, please do remember to make fair and thoughtful requests. We are here to work with you.

So, those are the top four messages which came out during the workshop. I believe that the messages resonates with the sentiments of other teachers around the world. For you, what message would you like to tell your parents?

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On Curiosity, Creativity, Autonomy, and Failures: 4 Lessons Teachers Can Learn from Genius Hour

Genius Hour or Time has been a buzzword not just in the workplace, but also in schools or educational institutions. Genius time, according to some, can be traced back to Google. Google allows its engineers to work on projects using 20% of their time. It has been said that some of Google’s products were once passion projects created during that 20% time allotment. In school, “Genius Time or Hour” allows learners to explore and work on their passion projects at a given amount of time. Educators around the world have employed and integrated genius time in their classroom because of its positive effect on the students. More specifically, genius time has become a way for teachers to allow innovation to take root and flourish in the classroom.

 

Four Important Lessons from Genius Hour

  1. Curiosity drives the project.

Allowing students to work on passion projects requires the initial steps of researching about the projects. The students may be solving a current problem or may be dreaming of creating something that would make work or any tasks easier or more efficient. Regardless of the reason behind the project, students’ curiosity drives them to explore ideas and research information about their project. That same curiosity fuels the work to be done. When they ask questions, they are driven to look for the best possible answers. Students are naturally curious inquirers. Genius time opens up for more opportunities to naturally integrate inquiry-based learning

  1. Creativity highlights individuality.

Since students work on their own projects and create products or solutions, creativity kicks in as they design and craft their work. More specifically, using tools that are readily available around them, students can create products out of every material on their reach. Creativity in genius hour is not anymore locked in the Arts. Creativity allows the student to design products with the end goal of solving problems. As individuals, students can show creativity in various ways. Creativity allows them to leave their mark on their work. It’s their indelible signature.

  1. Passion sustains autonomy.

Students work on their own, for most of the time. They might collaborate with others as they create shared passion projects. Whether individually or collaboratively, students go through the process of inquiry and project-making with less pressure and strict supervision of a teacher. Autonomy is shown as they demonstrate independence and confidence during the genius hours. Their passion on creating something worthwhile fuels learner-independence. It becomes a source of inner motivation. On the flip side, teacher’s role is modified into becoming a mentor who encourages exploration, questioning, and risking. The teacher allows autonomy to grow and bear fruit.

  1. Genius Time celebrates risking and failure.

The students are on their own. During genius time, students have been observed to be risk-takers because of their eagerness and drive to come up with a great product. Part of this wonderful attitude of risk-taking is being comfortable with committing mistakes or failures. Yes, students should be allowed to celebrate their mistakes and to learn from them. As we all know, most innovations and great discoveries can be traced back to accidents and mistakes in the laboratories or in a garage. Failures should encourage students to move forward and not to give up. Teachers should help students realize their mistakes and to learn from them. It’s about creating something positive from a seemingly negative or unfortunate.

Definitely, More than a Buzzword

Teachers around the world continue to integrate genius hour in their classes. It is definitely a great opportunity to help students learn, practice, and develop 21st century skills that are needed right now. On the other hand, allowing genius time in the classroom also trains the teacher to become a facilitator and mentor to students who are passionate to create products or solutions to problems that they see around them.

Know more about genius hour through these helpful links: