Are Teachers Solely Responsible for Motivating Students to Come to School and Actively Participate in Instruction?
At the Schools with Audrey Linden
This question was posed by a teacher on an educational site I belong to and open for a group discussion in a public forum on the site. Did we adopt the children? Is it really our job? The parents have a role in this, don’t they? Motivate them to show up? Sometimes kids don’t show up or are very late due to the parents. Do we motivate them too? Many times a truant child is the result or symptom of the parent. Then there are parent conferences to find out why and what to do. There may be a couple of children who we as educators cannot reach, and that is why there are SSTs in LAUSD (Student Success Teams).
I am responsible for making the subject matter as interesting as possible and in addition to teaching language arts, math, science, social studies, to somehow make it come alive and hopefully yes, inspire kids. But, to make the children want to show up at school? They have parents and if their parents are not doing their job, and there is high absenteeism or lateness, they can be reported. Child Services would look into that. It is my job to track attendance and truancy, to chart it and report it to administration and to meet with the parents.
Schools have “Beyond the Bell”, homework clubs, Resource, Special Ed, etc to help those children identified as needing help. Every effort is made to help students to perform at grade level.
Most teachers I know are dedicated and go the extra mile to do all they can to not only teach, but encourage their kids and make learning as interesting as possible.
I am a career substitute teacher and as such, I have gone to so many different schools in LAUSD, which is one of the largest school districts, and I see what goes on in different areas. In the higher income areas, in general, it seems to be a given that kids want to come to school. Of course, most of their parents are professionals and take an interest in their kids, volunteer at the schools, and help with homework. They instill a strong sense of values.
It does happen in the lower income areas as a school I go to next to a housing project, that some of the children are not as motivated. Sometimes language is an issue. The parents do not speak English. Their child learns English and comes home and speaks Spanish. But, the District was going all out to provide ESL to those parents. With cutbacks those programs were affected. In another school I substitute regularly, even though the parents do not speak English, they are involved through committees and come in to volunteer in the classrooms. It has been found that where the parents can join with a parent group to meet at the school, whether they speak English or not, they start to take an interest and start to volunteer and attend the parent-teacher conferences. Sometimes, a translator has to come to translate when the teacher does not speak Spanish. But, there has been a turn-around at a few schools when parents are motivated to participate.
Part of the new ‘Treasures” system is to see that all children are engaged in participating. There are always those children who are ready and eager to answer each and every question and raise their hands to do so. We are to encourage those who do not participate to become engaged. “Treasures”, the new language program, has small group learning. And, if the school has a budget to include a classroom aide, those children who are not performing at grade level work in a smaller group with the classroom aide or volunteer. The teachers do have a responsibility to see that all children are tested and evaluated and participate as fully as possible. But, to say they have the “sole” responsibility is taking away from the parent’s responsibility.
As a substitute, I am paid for six hours but most of them time, even on a one day assignment, I stay until 3:30 or 4:00 to check off homework, compile any work done, find out who did not complete work, write notes to the teacher as to that and as to behavior. On an assignment of several days, I am usually in the classroom until 4:00 daily. The children know they have someone who cares and who will teach them as close to how their own teacher does. That is my responsibility. The result is that I become the “regular” substitute which establishes continuity for the classroom.
In LAUSD, recently, the teachers voted and ratified the agreement to have test scores be part of their evaluation. In the future, I would hope that teachers do not have to assume the sole responsibility for motivating the children to want to show up and to inspire their children to want to learn and do their classwork and homework. Teachers do play a major role in this already. Absenteeism is recorded and charted as is tardiness. Teachers are held responsible to communicate with administrators and in turn administrators with parents. Homework is factored in as 20%. There was talk of not having homework be factored in as percentage of a child’s grade. I would hope that does not happen. It is called “homework” because it is work done at home and parents do need to be involved. We are seeing more and more responsibilities placed on teachers and less and less on parents. Teachers are educators and their job is to teach as effectively as they can which does include inspiring. But, parents are responsible for parenting and inspiring and instilling values. They have to make sure heir child gets to school and on time and does their homework and they or siblings should also engage their child and instill the value of a good education.
Voting member UTLA
Central Calling Area Chapter Chair