I don't usually share my personal opinions or experiences on this blog, but today I want to encourage all parents to take advantage of the last two days of American Education Week and go visit your child's classroom. No matter how busy you are, adjust your schedule and get there.
For those of you who have never been, I promise you will leave wiser about both your school and just how well your child is doing in the classroom.
There's really no better way of seeing what is going on than spending a day following your kids around. It is a wonderful idea, and I wonder why the private schools have not adopted it or why the private school parents don't demand it.
Until my children got to tenth grade and told me they would die a million deaths if I showed up in their classrooms, I never missed this opportunity. I remember the moment when I dreaded spending 45 minutes in Algebra II. I was one of those kids who wasn't happy about math. I admit it. But this math teacher was so inspired that the parents in the back of the classroom began to whisper, give each other smiles and wish that they had been so lucky when they were in eighth grade. Wow. No one could believe how good he was! I thought maybe this was a special lesson, but no, my daughter told me her math class was always like that. I doubt any parents there that day cut their child much slack about math, knowing they were in a class with a gifted teacher. I saw other classrooms over the years that were just plain dull, and I took pity on my kids. In another case, I saw another new teacher who barely had control.
I also had moments when I watched and suddenly "got it," realizing why my elementary school child was struggling and why we needed to work harder on something at home.
Whatever those classrooms were like, I had been there and had a glimpse into their world that helped me better support my children. The experience left me able to understand and be kind when they had had a bad day with Mrs. James, or to be less than sympathetic when they had forgotten an assignment because I knew it was probably posted up there in the left-hand corner of the board.
A friend of mine just reported that her trip to school this morning included watching a child with disabilities fall apart and have to be taken out of the room. She had a new appreciation for the dynamics of her son's classroom and what the teacher had to juggle.
I would love to hear comments from parents here who have been to classrooms this week. Give us a short description of your experiences. And go ahead and criticize me for chickening out and not going during those later years of high school. I can take the heat.