This weeks comic strip is based off of Ayer’s “About Becoming a Teacher” Chapter 8. This chapter addresses the topic of how we as educators can work not only with parents, but with our colleagues and administrators as well. Before delving into the comic strip, I want to mention Ayer’s ideological perspective depicted in the chapter. Ayer uses personal experiences throughout the chapter in order to express his perspective of how essential working with parent’s is in an educational setting. One specific lived experience he notes is when he adopted his youngest son, whom was pegged a “challenging child”. Given this experience, he and his wife were dreading parent teacher conferences and what the teacher would presumably say about their child. Ayer’s notes he was astonished when the teacher listened attentively and asked smart questions. This was a turning point for Ayer’s, and admittedly changed his perspective on parent-teacher conferences.
In my comic I wanted to depict a conversation between me and a camper’s mom. This strip is going off of a lived experience I had when working as a summer camp counselor as an undergraduate student at Kent State. While I have not had actual educational experience in parent-teacher conferences, I have had the experience of meeting with parents during the summer camp.To give some background information, this camper named Jamie (names have been changed) was struggling to regulate his behaviors during summer camp. He would become disruptive and lash out, especially when he was overwhelmed by something. Therefore, this strip depicts a conversation with Jamie’s mom when I asked to have a conversation with her to help me better understand Jamie and how to help him.
One main point I would like to make regarding Ayer’s chapter was the emphasis on building a purposeful relationship with parents. In this case, Jamie’s mom was very happy that I included her in a conversation about how I could help Jamie, without placing blame on him or his upbringing. That section of the comic was my attempt to build this relationship with his mom and what we could do to help him. I found myself referencing Ayer’s comment about how teachers can ask smart questions and listen attentively without upsetting the parent. Ayer’s notes in the chapter that it is an obviously reaction for parents to becoming defensive when their children are in question. Once a combative environment is established, I find it is not conducive to a productive and collaborative learning environment. I was mindful of this when choosing what to say to Jamie’s mom.
Another aspect I would like to touch base on was Ayer’s statement about constructing something productive the child would benefit from, as well as actively listening to a parent’s thoughts and concerns regarding the issue at hand. As you can see in the comic, I asked Jamie’s mom what may help him and we constructed a plan in order to help him. In this case, keeping him in a routine and sending home progress reports and weekly calls to monitor his behavior. Ayer’s put this perfectly when he said “Construct something productive and mutually advantageous, everyone will win and the main beneficiaries will be the children.”
By the end of the comic, Jamie’s mom and I built the foundation of our relationship and we had a mutual respect and understanding for one another. I find it was really important to update his mom on what was happening, but not attach negative labels or adjectives to Jamie. Parenting can be challenging enough without an outside person having a say, especially a negative one. Since Ayer’s as I touched on earlier really stressed the importance of building a purposeful relationship, I felt as though this comic depicted what ideally a conversation with a parent could include, especially when concerns are involved.