The Norman Transcript

January 17, 2014

Remember to get both sides of the story

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Our family is of a different ethnicity from the majority of the students at my oldest child’s school. He has said to us several times that his teacher doesn’t like him because of his skin color, especially when asked about his mediocre grades.

With your many years of classroom experience and working in schools, we would like your honest opinion as to whether you feel that he is making a valid point. If so, who should we talk to about this problem?

— Joe, Norman

Dear Joe,

You asked us to be honest, so here goes. The majority of teachers we have worked with could care less about the color of a kid’s skin or what clothes they wear or how they fix their hair. Teachers want four basic things from every student:

· Be in class on time and ready to work: When a student is absent, it actually makes more work for the teacher because the lesson has to be retaught and graded at a later time. It also causes unnecessary stress on the student.

Imagine you’re the teacher in first hour; you have four students absent. When do you teach those students the missed lesson, and how do you make sure they are as prepared as the other students? Same class, but now three students have walked in tardy at different times. This means the class has been disrupted three times and the class has had to be started four separate times.

· Have a pleasant attitude: In life, we all have to be places we aren’t particularly fond of. By adopting a positive attitude, it only aids in receiving positive responses. Nobody wants to deal with someone who is surly and rude. Why would anyone go out of his or her way to help someone when being treated badly?

· Be respectful of everyone in the classroom: Should teachers really have to take time away from a lesson to tell kids to be nice to another person? Children should be taught at home that our differences are what make each of us special. Tolerance is an important quality to instill in your children from the earliest age.

· Make their best attempt at assignments: It is truly hard to fail a class if a best effort is being given. We have asked hundreds of kids why they flunked certain classes, and answers such as “I didn’t go to class,” “I didn’t do the assignments,” “I slept through class” or “I hated that teacher and didn’t do the work” are among the most popular answers.

Seriously? You now have an F, and it’s entirely your fault. Students who attempt the work, go for help when they don’t understand and put forth a good effort are more than likely not going to fail the class.

In response to your questions, find out if all of the above are taking place in your son’s classroom. You can look on Parent Portal to see how many absences, tardies and missing assignments there are, as well as grades on completed assignments.

An attitude problem or problems with others in the classroom can easily be found out by emailing the teacher. If, after this investigation, you truly feel your son is being discriminated against, contact the teacher first. Always start here, since that’s the source. If necessary, you can request a conference with your son’s teacher and counselor. Remember, there are two sides to every story.

We just have to tell you a funny story. Years ago, we taught with a teacher who was not particularly fond of cheerleaders until her daughter became one. It was an eye-opening experience for her, and she saw the error of her ways and became an outstanding teacher.

Send questions to questions. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.

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