Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hello Mother, Hello Father....

When I was a kid, my father loved to make up rhymes about the start of the school year, usually in the form of questions.

"Was day one.... fun?"

"Hey, Suz, (with emphasis on the Sue), how was day 2?"

"Did you feel free on Day 3?"

You get the idea.  It was a family conversation starter at the dinner table, and a way to connect the generations.

Fast forward to today.  One of the questions I asked my 9th graders this year was "If I had a reason to call home to talk about you, who should I call?"  

Faced with a gaggle of brand new freshmen, the thought of a teacher calling home was petrifying.  The assumption, for most of them, was a metacognitive process of evaluating which parent would receive presumably bad news with the fewest repercussions on their social lives and freedom.  

Perhaps some of them feared that their parents would answer me in rhyme.  In any case, I received more than a few notecards where "Mom" was listed and scratched out, followed by "Dad", also with a big X, and a "Whatever" scrawled across the bottom.  Let the chips fall, so to speak.  What they don't realize is that I don't intend to call home for infractions to the school system, despite what my discipline policy on my syllabus states.  I'm calling home with good news, and only good news.

There is enough bad in this world, that someone else shouldn't be involved in breaking news to parents.  It's about autonomy, and nurturing personal responsibility.  If there is bad news to be delivered, by golly, the person delivering it is going to be the person who caused it to happen in the first place.

Autonomy.  Ownership.  Fostering independence and responsibility.  Because isn't that what we really need to encourage in teenagers?

And maybe the ability to rhyme, just to make it interesting.  

Okay,  probably not.