A Smart Person Knows What to Say, A Wise Person Knows Whether or Not to Say It

Learned this lessonI just took a personality quiz… another one. (I love those things.) It says that I hold the distinguished personality type of “Director”: decisive, focused, analytical, logical, competitive, self-disciplined, independent, and direct. That’s pretty spot on; I generally embody those attributes. However, as a provider who works with families I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) to shift the directorial duties to that of the parent. My goals now involve helping the parent, help their child. It wasn’t always this way.

See 10 years ago I would have debated you to the death, but time has softened my soul and experience has given me a swift kick until I learned that a smart person knows what to say but a wise person knows whether or not to say it. On some choice days, I learn that lesson all over again.

Providers will tell you that working with families is one of the toughest positions you can put yourself in because there is so much emotion and differing viewpoints that it can often lead to a knock down, drag out bull-fight over who is right and who is right-er. As a provider, I have objectivity on my side but I know the Parent has the power. So what’s a provider to do?

The Director in me is able to make confident and really great recommendations based on sound advice, experience, and know-how. I’m able to write it all down and package it in a pretty binder. I’m able to sit and talk to parents for hours about their rights, their choices, and what path I would choose. When it comes down to it, though, I know must defer to the Parent because they know what’s best for their child, even if I disagree. It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when my gut tells me that a kid on my caseload would benefit from getting help in Speech, OT, and Resource but the parent is just not ready to move forward.

I used to see this as defeat, but now I see this as a sign that things beyond my control are in play. I remind myself that no one knows the future and perhaps the wheels are in motion for something different, something better for this kid. Whatever the ultimate outcome, I’ve learned to listen first, recommend second, and take on the role of Assisting the Director-Parent on their journey to come to terms with and provide for their child’s challenges.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com



Common Core Standards Coupled with a Cultural Shift

common-coreMission Statement:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

Common Core made it to California and began its full implementation just a few days ago. Students started the 2013-14 school year off with new state standards, which have a focus on project-based learning in keeping with the multiple-intelligences theory as well as technology in the classroom. There is less of a focus on objective, standardized testing and more on testing with the purpose of long-term comprehension. There is also less teacher [and union] focus and more student/child-centric learning. Ultimately, however, preparation to go on to higher education is the end goal. There are 45 States that have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative (Texas, Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Virginia are still holding out) but no one quite knows the residual impact of this (almost) national conversion because although most states adopted the CCSS standards in 2010, roll out and full implementation doesn’t really began until this year or next.

It all sounds pretty good and gives the educational system a unified approach but, perhaps, what we also need is an additional cultural shift

The hope, of course, is that this new country-wide approach will offer consistency and clarity. However, the skeptics are out there and there is something to be said for another attempt at a nation-wide endeavor to educating our children in a generalized manner. We all remember the hope that No Child Left Behind promised only to deliver schools with a slanted take on prioritizing testing over The Arts and P.E. To be on par with students of the world, particularly China and Japan, however, I suggest that our Common Core should begin with a Cultural Shift. If we want to keep up with these kids, American society must shift its focus from making education a problem solved in the classroom to making education a problem solved at home.

In other societies there is an understanding that classroom standards don’t end when the bell rings. In other countries, there is a longer school day and longer week, sometimes even going to school on Saturdays. Parents take on an active role in their child’s education, becoming the teacher at home and, thereby, extending the school day even further. Whereas sometimes our society takes a position that it is the parent’s job to get their child ready for school and it is the school’s job to teach their child, other countries stress the fact that it is the parent’s role to not only teach the child morals and ethics but also math, taking ownership and responsibility head on for their child’s academic future.

There is no quick fix to anything, including our education system. The law requires that each child receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) but the US Supreme Court has ruled that appropriate does not mean the best. (Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson School District v Rowley, 458 US 176 (1982)) If we want our children to have a shot at competing on a global level, as the Mission Statement suggests, then now is the time to take matters into our own hands: become more actively involved in your child’s studies by taking what is taught in the classroom and implementing it at home. Common Core may be able to help you chart your child’s educational path but you steer your child’s academic success.

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com