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"How the Internet is like a Small Town"
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A Great Teacher and a Great Kid

We had my 5th grade son's parent teacher conference today.

I couldn't be more proud of him, great kid, loves life, huge heart and strives to make people proud, most of the time.

His 5th grade teacher is incredible, our daughter had the same teacher and we knew how lucky we were when he got her.

Here's how the conference went: (summarized and paraphrased)

Teacher: "Your son is a great kid and a leader, but he has been slipping lately, not handed a couple papers in, math grade is slipping, he didn't make his reading goal and his behavior has not been the norm in class. "

I then glance down at his report card she just put in front of us... All As except for the B+ in Math. I know he is reading a book bigger than the Bible and my gut tells me to defend my little boy against the mean evil teacher.

My son's eyes well up with tears... he can't look any of the 3 of us in the eye... I start to think I shoulda stayed single and not had kids cause my heart hurts.

Teacher comes back into conversation like some kind of sage all-knowing entity and discusses the situation with our son and no-kidding makes it smooth.

She makes him understand shes not mad, no one is mad, he just has the potential to be getting more out of his 30+ hours a weeks at school (and some homework time) and makes it obvious that she realizes it is her job to make sure he is getting everything out of it he can. Thats why she brought this stuff up... ok, I don't wanna beat her up anymore.

Tam and I say some wise parent things (subjective)

The teacher points out that some of the slacking off started while Tam and I were on vacation in Mexico, I tell the kid we are gonna go on more trips and its up to him to remain on track.

We brought up that we make our kids be pretty responsible for their own lives and we probably should have been more involved in monitoring.

Teacher says they should be responsible, he knows what he should have gotten done.

Tam and I agree.

Kid is back smiling now but goes and gets some work that he admits he didn't understand.

Teacher helps him through and he (on his own) gets 2 or 3 books to take home over the long weekend.

We all leave the room happily.

In the lobby of the school I remind him I never wanna hear about "behavior" issues in the classroom again or there will be consequences ( he gets it and knows how serious I am) and his Mom and I tell him he needs to fix the academic issues on his own before we get involved and start setting dumb rules that parents have to set when kids don't take care of stuff on their own. He's a 5th grader... it's not like we weren't heavily involved for the last 11 years, he knows what needs to be done. Him learning to be responsible on his own and get things done is imperative.

I know some folks may read this and say: "Jeez, the kid has one B+ and the mean teacher and over-bearing parents made him cry at Parent-teacher conferences, what a bunch of jerks"

My response is this: Not living up to potential is a crisis in our world today.
We can blame the education system (there's room for improvement) but it's not to blame.
We can blame "kids these days" ... but their KIDS, it's not their fault.
We can blame video games and cell phones, someone had to buy those things, someone is letting them abuse the time on them.

When I saw my kid truly upset that this teacher was less than completely satisfied with his performance... I knew we were even luckier than we thought to have her. Even more importantly I knew my kid was on the right path in life. He wants her to be proud of him, because when she is... she tells him... and that drives him. He wants his parents to be proud of him, same reason. He doesn't want them to be less than proud of his performance, cause they also let him know and it doesn't feel good to him.

It's really pretty simple math... Give the kid a chance by teaching him, let him know when he is kicking ass and how proud you are, and he will like kicking ass.
Let him know when he isn't kicking ass and let him know that laziness is most likely the cause because he has been giving tasks relative to his ability, then let him know laziness is, well, not gonna make your dreams come true, and he won't like not kicking ass.
Then just be there to celebrate ass-kicking and make a plan to kick-ass next time if they get their ass kicked, cause that happens plenty.

(the above paragraph is pretty much my entire parenting philosophy)

In closing: Thank you to all the great teachers out there... cause you have our kids more during their awake hours than we do and we would all have jacked up lazy kids without you.

If the teacher in question reads this... you should be getting paid millions, because you are making the world a better place.

*** If you know me... you know the part about being mad and wanting to beat the teacher up never happened. Tam and I love the teachers our kids have had and our kids know the teacher is right, and they are expected to be respectful of their teachers.


  1. Wow, we did the same thing with our son, held him accountable for grades and never excepted any type of behavior issues. You and your wife are doing everything right, your kids are lucky to have you and I know you feel the same way. It's not easy being a good parent, maybe that is why so many aren''s just easier not to care I guess. When we sent our son off to College this past fall we wondered if we had prepared him enough, for all the work, his own accountability...and I guess we did ok, deans list with 3.95 and #1 rated Midshipmen, so it works..

  2. This is are an excellent writer Cody...I bet YOUR english comp teacher is VERY proud to have had you for a student!!
    My favorite line:" laziness is, well, not gonna make your dreams come true" on an academic level. Emotionally I like the whole tone of love, responsibility , being there, supervision and real parenting...

  3. Thanks for the comments ladies..

    Means alot coming for two people I respect!

  4. Thank you for your writing. Your son's teacher is to be commended for her genuine caring spirit. She wants him to succeed,can see his potential, and doesn't want him to get "off track". Your son needed your support, but he had to realize you supported the teacher. It's sad that we as teachers must be so careful not to "hurt" anyone's feelings. Yet, we are accountable when the student isn't doing well.

  5. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the comments..

    Just know this... there is a 5th grade teacher in our school district that cares more about the long term well-being of the kid than his/her feelings... or even the parents feelings today.

    And she has Teacher of the year awards hanging on the wall. So... it's not impossible, it's not hopeless.

    I understand the issues Teachers face, and I wish parents as a whole would get it... I wish they would stop be so focused on protecting the kids feelings right now and back teachers.

    But its not hopeless... we can make it better.


I love the discussion in the comments.. so... GO FOR IT!

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