Ron Clark's 2011 essay was shared more than 898,000 times on Facebook
"What teachers really want to tell parents" became one of CNN's most-shared stories
CNN asked readers what parents or teachers really need to know. What do you think? Comment below
Teachers and parents share a common purpose: educating children.
But differing beliefs, expectations and methods can make collaboration more challenging.
A 2011 story published on CNN.com by author and teacher Ron Clark, entitled “What teachers really want to tell parents,” looked at reasons why educators give up on their field.
He asserted that negativity from parents places undue pressure on teachers and advised greater cooperation.
“We are educators, not nannies,” Clark wrote. “We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it.”
His opinion consistently resonated with readers over the next couple of years, which made it one of CNN’s most-shared stories on Facebook. The story has been recommended more than 898,000 times.
Clark founded the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta and was named “American Teacher of the Year” by Disney and a “Phenomenal Man” by Oprah Winfrey.
But even Clark’s status as a leader in his field didn’t fully explain why this story captivated people, so CNN revisited the idea with Facebook users last week by asking them to finish this sentence: “The one thing parents/teachers really need to know is _____.”
Readers responded enthusiastically with more than 750 thoughtful posts. Their answers revealed stewing frustrations from teachers and parents alike. A few teachers described parents who seem like they aren’t doing enough to help their children. Parents chimed in, too, with some saying teachers should use different strategies to reach students.
The comments from the two groups created a spirited discussion that resembled a virtual parent/teacher conference. The exchange coincides with the time of year when many classrooms are having such meetings.
Several respondents indicated a need for cooperation, with teachers and parents as allies.
“Parents need to know we’re in it for the kids; obviously not for the money,” said Facebook user and Florida teacher Cindy Hoffman. “We’re in a partnership, trying to do the best for the children as possible. Please don’t treat us as adversaries.”
Some parents expressed a desire for greater connection with schools.
“Teachers need to know that some parents do care and want to be involved,” wrote Dana Fabrocini Dentino. “Also, the kids who do their work and are well behaved – they need some attention, too.”
And some readers, like Tiffany Jean Williams-Solod, can relate to both worlds.
“As a parent, teachers, I want my child challenged every single day, and if she doesn’t get it, tell me so I can assist you,” she wrote. “Don’t be afraid to tell me if my child disrespects you.”
She, too, joined the many impassioned cries for greater cooperation.
“As a teacher (oh yes, I am both) I want parents to stop blaming teachers and start working with us,” Williams-Solod said. “We can’t fix everything, but remember we are humans and we aren’t perfect. Also, teach your kids to respect us.”
Click through the gallery to read more perspectives in this digital parent/teacher exchange.
What do you think about this list, and what would you add? What do you think is most important for parents or teachers to know?