Saturday, February 25, 2012

AWOLs, Cleavers and Chopper Jocks: A Guest Post

by Movin' on Up (Frau M.'s BFF)

Disclaimer:  My dear friend, Frau M., asked if I would be a guest author on her blog.  Although quite hesitant at first, due to the fact that I do not consider myself to be even in the same league of a writer as Frau M., I said that I would give it a shot.  I do take Bruno Mars’ songs to heart and truly believe that in all good friendships “You can count on me like one, two, three, I’ll be there.”  So it may not be quite up to par, but I shall try my best.

   Due to the fact that I have taught upper elementary in multiple districts which all had extremely different socio-economic demographics, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with some awesome kids.  Those same kids attach me to a whole other group of people altogether, their parents.  Not that I’m trying to be judgmental, but I have seen many types of parenting over the years.  I have narrowed down my list to three basic types of parenting styles that you may come across as a teacher. 

 AWOLs:  AWOLs are those parents that you try to make contact with throughout the year, but you just can’t seem to reach them.  You can try email, phone calls, notes home, etc.  but nothing seems to get through.  These same parents will somehow make it to conferences where you will finally be able to confer with them that their student is struggling behaviorally or academically.  Of course this is a shock, since they have been AWOL, and they proceed to tear into the teacher and want to know why it’s come to this.  They haven’t quite made the connection yet that being AWOL might be the problem behind everything, but we as teachers cannot actually say that.  These are always fabulous conferences, by the way. 

 Cleavers:  Cleavers are your ideal parents.  Why can’t we have a year with all Cleavers!?!  I name this group the Cleavers because the most famous perfect parents of all time are June and Ward Cleaver.  They help their kids with homework, make sure their child reads at home, send notes when something is difficult for their child so you know to give them extra support, respond to emails and phone calls, etc.  They are there for their kids and support the educational process.  What a novel thought!

 Chopper Jocks:  Chopper Jocks are by far my favorite parents. (insert sarcasm)  I’ve also heard of this group labeled as the hovercraft or the helicopter parents.  I’ve labeled them Chopper Jocks because that’s the slang term for a helicopter pilot in the military (I’m a proud army wife, by the way), and it’s super catchy!  Chopper Jocks are those parents that watch every single thing that you do.  For example, they may keep every single graded paper you send home and put it in a 3-ring, 3 inch binder that is separated by tabs for each subject area.  Then they bring it to conferences, flip it open, and while reading their notes that they have made in the margins ask you why you have graded their child the way you have.  Now doesn’t that sound like a fun time?  But that’s just an example. 

     So here I am pondering the parenting tactics of my own children, as I have three beautiful girls ranging from preschool to fifth grade.  Being a teacher and knowing the labels, you would think that I would fall into the Cleavers category, and most days I would hope the girls’ teachers would agree.  However, I know myself and would say that I could easily be pushed to the other side of Chopper Jock if necessary.  But because I am a teacher, I know the importance of parental involvement in a child’s education and being AWOL is not an option for me.