Q: My child’s elementary teacher sends out long emails every week. They are nicely-written but go into so much detail that I don’t have time to read them (and honestly I don’t have much interest in most of the information; I just want the essentials). Is there a way to gently let the teacher know that her messages are tl;dr (too long; didn’t read)?
From my side of the teacher’s desk, I personally wouldn’t spend so much time on baroque communication. My preference is to spend it on planning lessons and collaborating with other teachers. Also my experience has shown me that such missives, though crafted to avoid lots of time-consuming questions from parents, generally serve to generate even more of them as a few detail-oriented mom and dads, spurred on by the teacher’s willingness to indulge them with particulars, seek even further and more elaborate clarification (and sometimes nitpick about the errors that invariably appear). As a result, I prefer to keep things simple and direct. But if the teacher feels this is an important use of her time, then that is certainly her prerogative. She knows her audience better than I do.
Two possible solutions come to mind to avoid looking like a churl: Option 1) Next time you see her, ask a question that you know she included in her epistle, one that requires more than a quick, verbal answer (“So what is next week’s testing schedule?”). When she replies, “Oh, I already sent that in my email,” you might − in your most polite voice − respond that, while you receive her letters, it’s often difficult to find the opportunity to sort through their length and detail to find the necessary information. Option 2) When you get the emails, hit “delete.”
Q: My daughter received a detention because the logo on her t-shirt was too big. That’s insane. Don’t teachers have better things to do than punish kids for t-shirt logos?
Yes, they do. That’s why you should teach your child to follow the rules and wear the right t-shirt. Teachers have lessons to teach, students to help, and papers to grade. It’s a pain to spend our time administering detentions for mild infractions. But we also don’t want our schools to break down into total anarchy, so we have to do this thing that you apparently don’t do in your house: enforce the rules.
I think what you’re really asking here is, “Why do the rules have to apply to my child?” If so, that attitude makes you part of “the problem.” If you want to be part of “the solution,” you’ll support the school, teach your child how to measure the size of a logo, encourage her to follow the rules, and, if time, present the teacher with a note of gratitude for caring enough to teach your daughter a small lesson in obedience. Hopefully you don’t have better things to do.
Q: My son is getting B’s in his high school history class. He and I both want him to get A’s and think he’s capable of it. Every time he goes to the teacher for help, she just shows him more things he needs to study. He’s already spending an hour on history homework every night. Aren’t there other things she could do to help him?
Do you really mean “other things” or do you mean “easier things?” If the latter, then I’m going to say “no” because in a child’s education there is no path to success that doesn’t involve hard work and determination. If you’re looking for a shortcut, here it is: Have him study even less and learn to be satisfied with C’s.
I do have to wonder: what, exactly, is so wrong with getting a “B” in history if you’re working your heart out for it? “B” is not the scarlet letter. It sounds like your son is giving all he can. You should be excited by that. Teach him that it’s less important to be satisfied with a specific grade than it is to be satisfied with the will it takes to do his best. But if you’re not willing to help him shift his focus from outcome to effort, what is it that you want the teacher to do? It’s history class. There are no magic bullets (except in certain controversial chapters on JFK). If your son wants to know more, he has to either study more or study more efficiently.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Your son is moving. He may not be soaring the way you want, but he’s going in the right direction. He’s working harder than most students would in his situation. And he’s doing very well in school. Instead of blaming the teacher try just being proud of your son.