Controllable vs. Uncontrollable Factors of Teaching

In a recent ASCD blog by Chris Canter called “How Do We Fix the Blame Game,”  Canter asks, how do we get parents to be more involved in our schools?  He wants to know how to get our parents and our communities more infused with our schools to ensure the success of all children.

I addressed a similar topic in my previous post:  “The Blame Game:  Who Should Be Responsible for Educating Our Kids?”

My answer to Mr. Canter is this…if we, as educators, spend our time focused on the variables of education over which we have no control, than we are wasting valuable time that could be spent focusing on the variables of education over which we have control.

If I mark “Request for Conference” as a comment on a student’s report card, and the parent chooses not to respond, have I not taken the appropriate steps to involve the parents in their child’s education?  If I make phone calls and leave voicemails and send emails, have I not done what I can to involve parents?  I can scream from the rooftops that I want their involvement, but the truth is, it is beyond my power to make them want to talk to me.

What is in my control is what their child does while he or she is in my domain.  I can control whether or not he gets to spend his lunch period in the cafeteria with his friends or in my classroom receiving interventions.  I can control whether or not he receives the academic assistance he needs, regardless of his parents’ decisions.

In a teacher-based team, it is easy to slip into the pitfalls of the blame game and spend countless hours debating the potential methods of involving parents, but if parents choose not to step up to the plate, then it is our responsibility to do what we can for the problems we can solve.  The more time we spend thinking about absentee parental and community involvement, the less time we spend thinking about our controllable areas of influence.


2 thoughts on “Controllable vs. Uncontrollable Factors of Teaching

  1. Some great posts there!

    Certainly the phone calls and calls for meetings are sufficient. I just feel that as teachers we must be prepared to do it alone. As good as it is to work with parents, we must be prepared that some choose not to be engaged and involved. Instead of giving up, we must carry on alone with unabated enthusiasm.


  2. Pingback: Leadership–A Think Aloud « Turn On Your Brain

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