Back to School Manage Your Involvement with Teachers

Back to School: Manage Your Involvement

I started a series titled the 360Entrepreneur out of my life-learnings about being an entrepreneur. Thus, a 360-degree view of entrepreneurs’ life includes the past, present, and future. We learn from the past to better understand the present and make better decisions moving into the future. My goal is to share our experiences to have a strong foundation in your home life so that you can easily focus on your business.

It’s Back to School

It’s back to school, and I remember the days of having five children with different school lists and different tastes in clothes. I would search for the shoes with the lights or the backpacks of their favorite character—my youngest loved colored socks. I would shop after long days at the office and do my best not to look like a failed mother to their teacher by missing items on their lists. But, if I am honest, I don’t miss those days at all.

My Experience with Five Children

I was very fortunate that I had thoughtful teachers for my first four children during their elementary years. However, I could sense a change when I had my youngest. My son suffered from severe bullying. No fault of his teachers, but indeed, the environment placed them in an awkward position. He had dyslexia and required special needs, but in the meantime, they had to provide an additional role of protector of other children who would verbally and physically abuse him. I needed them to be my eyes to protect his wellbeing. Still, I needed them to ensure academic success. It was a difficult position for us all.

Keep an Open Mind

Now, as I evaluate the current environment in our schools, I thought I would share my experience as a mother of five children, a working mother, and an entrepreneur. Not to mention the sole caretaker of a father with Alzheimer’s, who sensed passed but was dealing with his disease while my children were in school. Now, as a grandparent and as I await additional grandchildren to emerge from our family, I have a beautiful habit of offering my experience whenever my adult children listen. Hoping they will learn some of the lessons I have learned so we can continue to improve our generations to come. Perhaps these thoughts will benefit you as a parent and entrepreneur. We have a balancing act of changing our hats from business owner to spouse to parent to community leader, etc. So, as you read this, I hope you wear your parent’s hat and keep an open mind.

Leave the Moral Training to Parents

We depend on our schools to provide a safe and nurturing educational environment for their children. As a mother of five, I would have found it very hard-pressed to accept a teacher telling my children or grandchildren that there is a God or not a God. Or they are going to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus or Buddha, is the only way. Our children are gifts and molded by our core values and traditions. Therefore, I believe; the moral and ethical upbringing of a child should be left to the parents. While Teachers keep our children on track academically. Keep an open mind as I continue.

Your Role and Your Child’s Teacher

As entrepreneurs, we are wearing so many hats that attending school board meetings might seem overwhelming. I am a new empty-nester, but before my children left home, I wanted to be home with my family. When I was with my family, my mind would be spinning about what was happening with my business.

But we are the kings and queens of multi-tasking, so I will give you five ideas to get involved, and I hope these ideas will help you. First, Pew research shows the United States is rapidly declining in the placement of quality education globally. Average scores of 15-year-olds have an average of ranking 23, and math is much lower.

My daughter is a teacher, and I hear her stories of compassion for teaching and building her student’s skills in the basics. Based on these experiences, parents can relieve pressure on teachers by teaching our core values at home. For example, suppose students can come to class with a loving, calm demeanor and a respectful attitude. In that case, they can learn and excel in the classroom and in life.

It’s a great teamwork approach. We, as parents, manage their values and belief systems, and the teacher teaches them how to read, write, and do math.

Entrepreneurs have an Opportunity

The effort takes you to work with your school board and teacher is very minimal. The country’s 95,000 school board members oversee the education of some 50 million students and decide how to spend more than $600 billion every year. We, as entrepreneurs, have an excellent opportunity to provide leadership in managing budgets, reducing unnecessary expenditures, and qualifying cash investments.

Most important of all: They work for us. Your school board comprises only three to seven people to support and guide parents and guardians. When a school isn’t meeting the students’ and your needs and has exhausted all efforts, you can take up your issue with the school board’s higher authority. Small business owners can provide mentorship and advocacy for the policies that protect our children. We can allow the teachers to focus on what they do best—teaching academics.

Get educated about your school board and engage your local clients, neighbors, and businesses to attend with you. Educate your community on the importance of getting involved. It’s an excellent way to build and maintain connections. When appropriate, please bring your children so they can witness your example as a parent. Even if they are young, these memories demonstrate the importance of strengthening our communities. When our communities are strong, our country is strong. As business owners, we attend many networking events to build sales. Still, nothing makes a connection other than getting to know the parents of your children. Remember the rule there are six degrees of separation from meeting the client or person who could change your business.

Go to the school board meeting or read the minutes online. Many schools have online streaming so you can multi-task at home. Research the members online. Would you please get to know their core beliefs? Just like in business, we don’t hire employees if their ethics do not align with ours. Nor do we leave our children with a sitter when our gut intuition tells us something is wrong. Nor should we leave our schools to decide what they should teach our precious souls.

Your School Board Vote

It’s a head-scratcher. We care so much about our children’s education. Yet when it comes to making our voices heard, 90 percent of voters don’t vote in school board elections. That means that your vote counts far more than in other polls compared to voting for a U.S. president, senator, congressperson, or even your mayor. And the stakes are high: This is your child’s education, after all. Suppose your school and district schools are not listening to their constituents. We pay their salaries, and it is our right as a citizen to be one of the voters to elect new board members.

You have an opportunity to decide on the type of school programs to add. Programs can include technology, science, engineering, coding, arts, sports, or field trips. What about your decisions to improve the classrooms with updated technology or install outdoor interactive playgrounds or gardens? You can do much to enhance the campus experience while ensuring your teachers stay focused on academics, not setting your child’s moral compass.

These decisions can improve your teachers’ lives while enriching your children’s lives. But your involvement creates boundaries too. So, how can you multi-task to get involved while still protecting your business and personal time?

If you have an assistant or a high schooler, ask them to research all the board members. Then, you can go and have lunch with your student. While at the school, evaluate the classroom. Are there posters or messaging on the walls that are concerning? Then, make it a date night. Get a babysitter and go to dinner before or after a board meeting. Discuss your children’s education and how to support their educational needs better. TagTeam with a neighbor or a family member to attend the board meeting on alternative months. Ask for the school curriculum and if you have an older child, spend time explaining that you approve of the curriculum. But, let them know if the teacher changes the curriculum to let you know.

Support Your Child’s Teacher

Finally, please support your child’s teacher, but do it discerningly. For example, your child’s teacher may have a wish list about how you can help their projects. But if you feel like your child’s first-grade teacher is better at planning parties and the learning gets lost, you may not want to contribute to the party.

Instead, offer to visit the classroom to read with struggling students or do math games with small groups. Of course, in suggesting your wish list, you may feel like you’re overstepping your boundaries. Still, chances are you’ll find that your teacher welcomes support in an area of learning that isn’t their strong suit. If they do not, remember, you are supporting your child’s education means just that. So, spend little time on the most critical educational issues, not sacrificing yourself to their volunteer requests.

I wish all parents luck this school year!

About the author : Darlene Gagnon

Darlene Gagnon is an award-winning entrepreneur recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners and is an Enterprising Women Inspirational Entrepreneur. She served on the board of directors for Entrepreneurs’ Organization and has mentored entrepreneurs and start-ups for over a decade. Her two companies, WeKinnect Global Branding Agency, and Kinetic Promotional Product Services have been recognized as “Best Places to Work” and “Largest Agency” by American City Business Journal. Both companies serve the US, Canadian, European, and Australian markets. Most recently induction to the $1 million dollar club with industry leader ipromotu.

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