K-12 Education: What Parents Want

Heidi Hass Gable, the talented writer of ‘I Was Thinking’, has exquisitely described what she wants for her children’s education in the beautiful piece below.

I think most parents want what Heidi describes for their children. The challenge for K-12 educators is to realize that this is not an ‘either-or’ decision…

…either we take care of their hearts and their emotional needs; or we take care of their minds and the curriculum.

We need to do both. Parents want us to do both.

In fact, by taking care of our students hearts, we increase our effectiveness at reaching their minds. Think about our own lives. We perform best when we have healthy relationships at work. It is no different for our students. It goes back to the Three R’s.…Relationship, Relevance, and then Rigor.

Now, when I talk about focusing on ‘soft’ things; I am not talking about phony self-esteem building. There is too much of this inauthentic sentimentality polluting the waters already. If it’s not real, then it’s not effective in the long run. Authentic, meaningful, and supportive relationships aren’t always marked by ‘smiles’. Sometimes they must challenge our children in ways that take them out of their comfort zones.

So, dealing with the ‘soft’ parts of our students’ natures makes it easier for us to succeed with the ‘hard’; whether it is a specific curriculum, skill, or achievement test.

As educators we should listen to the expectations of our parents. Their love for their children is deep. They don’t want them to be lost in the system. They don’t want them to be faceless.

The greatest gift we can give our children is to see them as unique individuals. To see their unique gifts. To help those gifts come forth in each of them.

It can be done. It is something that was done for me.

Thanks Heidi for the great gift you are, and for this beautiful presentation that calls every educator to remember to place their hearts at the very center of their classrooms.



8 thoughts on “K-12 Education: What Parents Want

  1. Hi Pete,
    Thanks for the link & the support!

    I believe that we all want the same things – it’s just that life and fear and differences of opinion and lack of time all get in the way. We find ourselves down a path of defensiveness and reactivity.

    It’s easier to tell each other what you’re doing wrong than it is to see what we can do to help it go right!

    The greatest thing I hope for is that this will get teachers and parents 1) thinking and 2) talking. When we start having open conversations, with everyone focused on a foundation of what’s best for the children – then we will indeed change every classroom!

    Thanks again!

  2. Dear Pete,
    I have enjoyed your web site for a few years now, and took one of your excellent seminars a few years ago at a NYSSBA conference.

    Speaking of relevance, I need help. I am currently a student teacher in high school social studies. I like the high school, my supervising teacher, the kids, and the material. BUT, I need help with the constant texting on cell phones. (As far as I can tell, making social plans.) The students are very good at doing it discreetly, but it is such competition. When I can give them hands on activities, like making a poster, that gets them away from the phones, as does giving them a quiz, but that leaves plenty of other class sessions. I dread trying to confiscate the phones for the class period because I can see myself spending a whole class period trying to make sure I have them all.
    Are there any lesson plans for incorporating cell phones? If they could play a part in learning, that would be at least something positive. I have searched a few tech ed sites to no avail. Just wondered if you were aware of any possible help.
    Thank you.
    There is no smart board in the room and only two classroom computers – 30 students in the class.

  3. Anita,
    Here are two good resources that may help you develop some uses for the cell phone in your classroom;



    Now, another way to look at this is that if your students were writing notes on paper and passing them across the room throughout the class, or watching T.V. on their wristwatches, or whispering to each other, how would you handle it?

    I appreciate your awareness that when you engage them in projects and in active learning, they are on task. I think going further down that road leads to the real answers…active, engaged, and empowered learners.

    Lessons and activities that put them at the ‘center’ of the process, not on the receiving end.

    Incorporating cell phones into the classroom might help a bit; but, in my opinion, students texting in class is just the symptom of bigger issues with k-12 education.


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