By Guest Blogger Holly Pavliscsak
As a working mother, negotiating the school scene is a tricky proposition. There is the mom at every school, yah, you know HER, she’s the mom that’s always there like it’s her full time job to be there. Every year, I watch HER kids get the “prime” teacher. You know the teacher I’m talking about… the nice teacher, the engaged teacher, the one that the kids and parents just all love. That “prime” teacher also gets the “prime” students of course! This teacher’s classroom seems to have few discipline problems and everyone generally gets along, kids learn, test scores soar and all is right with the world!
My stay-at-home mom friends diligently go up to the school and volunteer regularly. The school administrators know them and they are well liked by the teachers. They are in every sense involved and that is great for them. For their commitment and free work, they are often rewarded by getting the “prime” teacher in the grade level for their children’s teacher.
On the flip side, the parents that aren’t as involved often get the “subprime” or less ranked teachers in the grade or *gasp* the worst teacher in the grade. You know the one I’m referring to also, she gets all the discipline problems, she yells, she punishes all the students for the inappropriate actions of a select few, test scores plummet, no one is happy.
Last year, even though I’m involved as much as I can be as a working parent, my son got the so-called “worst” teacher in the grade. I had my stay-at-home my friends tell me that fact and that I might want to consider requesting a teacher transfer. I resisted their advice thinking that she couldn’t be THAT bad and that my son will have to deal with difficult people in his life and we’d get through it together. I didn’t want to be HER, a helicopter parent, hovering around never letting my children experience real life and its messiness.
Well, I was wrong; it was a horrible year for him. I didn’t really understand how bad until the last week of school when he said “guess what today is Mom?” in an exacerbated, exhausted voice. I looked at him and he said ”only two more days until I don’t have to hear Ms. M scream anymore!” At that moment I felt like the worst Mom in the world! When his test scores came in after school concluded for the year, he’d gone down in every subject!
This year, I scouted out the teachers; I listened to HER, my running partner and my neighbor (both stay-at-home Moms) and found out the scoop. I learned just who would be a good fit for my child. The first day of school came and we found out that his teacher, to my dismay, was the teacher I’d identified as the “worst” teacher for my kid. I spoke to both my allies and they confirmed it as well, and said, “March right in there and request a change this moment! Do you want another year like your son had last year?!” So I trusted my friends’ instincts, HER instincts, and I did just that. I walked into the front office like I owned the place or at least lived there, and wrote down exactly what I wanted. I told the administration that I wanted my child in a different classroom; his current teacher wasn’t the right fit for him and asked that they please call me.
They moved him to another classroom without question. While she wasn’t the “prime” teacher, she was the right fit for him! She was engaging, cooperative, knew how to manage discipline and used positive reinforcement.
When he walked in the door the after first day of school and said “It’s going to be a fantastic year Mom, I love my new teacher!” I knew that listening to my friends’ instincts was the right decision! As working Mothers we can’t be everywhere all the time, I know we try, but we must rely on our army of women to get through life! We need them and our kids do too! So the next time you question how to handle something at your child’s school, trust “HER” instincts and be vocal about what you want and need…
Ladies, what do you think about Holly’s approach? What WOULD and WOULDN’T you do for your child? Do you let the school handle all matters pertaining to your child or do you usually get involved? How far would you go as a mom to “get what you want” or “make things right for your child?” Does it make you a helicopter parent for speaking up, “meddling in” but getting your child placed in the “right” class, with the “right” teacher? Can you share with our community any stories or experiences you have in this domain.
Holly Pavliscsak is raising two kids ages 10 and 7 all while juggling the pressures of a demanding full time career and travel schedule. Professionally, she is a Project Manager for the Department of Defense leading. She’s presented and published numerous pieces in the areas of telehealth, mobile health and healthcare management. She also hosts a caring bridge site where she chronicles her Mother’s battle with colon cancer http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/lindahardison.