Friday, July 23, 2010

Overheard on the front lines


Time: Thursday, 3:45 PM
Location: Can't Get Any More Central California Than This Central California Town
Activity: Cartooning class with 6-10 year olds

The set up:
I make my students raise their hands and wait for me to call on them before speaking. For the most part, I pretty much call on hands right when I see them because a) if I wait too long, sometimes the kid will shout out anyway, interrupting whatever I'm saying, which gets annoying, and b) I want my students to be actively engaged in class and having them feel good about voluntary participation satisfies that, in part.

This one particular class has one particular kid who has issues with forming the hand-raising habit. Probably because he's only about six years old, or because his previous teacher never really enforced a hand-raising rule, or because he's never had to ask for anything in his short, young life since he is just that well-taken care of by his mother. Or a combination of any of those reasons, and then some.

Thus, the following:

Me: (sees kid raise his hand without shouting out. I'm in the middle of explaining how to draw a tricky section of the day's cartoon so I make one of those flash decisions that teacher's make thousands of every day and wait until I've brought the class through the tricky part to call on him)

Mom #1: (unbeknownst to her, she speaks just several seconds before the completion of the tricky part) Excuse me! My child has his hand up!

Me: Yes, I know. Just a moment please.

Mom #1: Oh.

Lo, and behold, literally five seconds later we were done with the tricky drawing and I called on the kid. I was tempted to make the kid wait a little longer after his mom spoke. But I suppose making a student wait longer than necessary just to teach his mother a little patience wasn't so fair.

Later, during clean up time, I overheard this among the parents, including the mom from above:

Mom #1: So what do you do?

Mom #2: I'm a teacher.

Mom #1: Oh, so am I!

::insert typical filler info of where, what, how etc.::

Interesting. Dear Parent, if you are a teacher - an elementary teacher as you so claim - then you must know of that little strategy called "planned ignore," either for behavior or to create a smooth flow of instruction timing. She must have forgotten. I suppose being a parent, and advocating for your child takes precedence over your teacher training.

Which is reasonable. Parents are supposed to watch out for their child's needs and wants. But let's just say this: With each passing day, I'm getting more and more thankful that I will be working with middle school students - most of whose parents have mellowed out and relaxed their grip. Or so I should hope.

Note: Yes, I am biased slightly against helicopter parents, perhaps because of my experience with my own parents. I really wish some of them would just chill out, like the "Mom Who Stays Within A Radius Of Five Inches From Her Son At All Times" or "Father Who Does His Child's Art Work For Her During A Class That He Paid For In Order For His Child To Learn How To Do Art Herself" or "Parent Who Calls The Teacher Every Other Day Complaining About The B- Their Child Received On A Minor Assignment."

Or am I the one that is really too chill, as some parents have implied to me? I don't think so, but doubt settles in after a full summer of art teaching where I interact mainly with helicopters.

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