Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to School Tips for Dunwoody Parents

It's back to school time for kids in Dunwoody.  So what is the biggest fear of parents?  Is it getting the 'bad' teacher?  A schedule with lunch too early or too late?  Classes with that annoying kid from down the street?  Nope.  The answer is of course a four-letter word. L I C E.  There, I said it.  Now scratch your head and know right now your family and home is lice-free.  But what about the first 30 days of school - the dreaded Lice Time?

Any kid can get lice, even a Dunwoody kid.  Shocking, I know.  But I have seen it happen.  Your kid gets lice and suddenly your entire family is placed on the "do not talk or go near them" list.  Invites to cookouts are rescinded, no sleepovers for a minimum of 30 days, and no invites for birthday parties.

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Can you prevent lice?  The jury is out but some small studies have shown natural products containing rosemary, citronella, and eucalyptus do repel lice.  You can do your own research.  The DunwoodyTalk staff will spray Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel spray on the head of at least one kid for the first week of school.  If your kid gets lice there are many ways to treat it.  the DunwoodyTalk suggested method is take your credit card and kid to elimilice, right here in Dunwoody.  Then wash everything in hot water, including the book bag.

Bullying
School is tough for kids.  Talk to your kids about bullying, making sure they are not on either end of a bullying incident.  The State of GA has rules on bullying (HERE) as does DeKalb County.  If you feel your student is a victim of bullying then talk to the staff at school immediately.  The quicker issues can be addressed the better.  If incidents continue and school staff acknowledges these incidents, make sure the word "bullying" is written by a faculty member.  This is important.  You want to see the word 'bullying' used.  It is sometimes difficult for a principal to have a student removed from a school so you want accurate documentation, and you want the term 'bullying' used as this will be important if the issue continues.  On the flip side, if your kid is written up for 'bullying', you need to address the issue to avoid having your kid being labeled a bully then getting bounced from school (and ruining the day/year of others). 

Bad Teachers
I taught middle school a few years in Georgia and I have had kids attend private and public school (in addition to home-schooling).  I can say without a doubt our local schools have some great teachers.  Teachers who care about their profession and care about educating your child in a safe and orderly environment.  I can also tell you our local schools have some bad teachers.  These are people who need to find a new line of work because they:
a. cannot control the classroom behavior and keep it orderly
b: cannot transfer knowledge to your child  
c: cannot interact with parents and students 
d: are not intelligent enough to handle the subject matter
e: etc.

So what do you do about a bad teacher?  First off, what you don't do is accept it as bad luck and hope next year is different. I spoke to a person recently who was worried their younger student would get the same bad teacher an older sibling had in school.  Did this parent ever express his/her opinion with the grade-level principal?  With the school principal?  With the regional superintendent?  With the central office?  No, no, no, and no.  You will rarely see a teacher removed from the classroom during the school year, but if the principal gets heat about a teacher all year from numerous sources, the odds that teacher comes back are lowered.  So do future students a favor and complain.  The average Dunwoody homeowner will annually send $3000 plus to DeKalb for education (and less than $200 to the city for police, roads, zoning, etc.) so speak your mind louder than those opposing a trail or intersection improvement.

Like bullying, you need to document and intervene early in the school year.  The only way to rid your school/community of a bad teacher is to complain.  And if other parents share your opinion then they need to complain as well.  Keep complaining.  Keep it up all year if you need to do so.  The school principal needs to know if someone on his/her staff is a bad teacher. Have your kid report to you what is going on in the classroom and hallways, then let school administrators know.  Our local schools have too many kids in the classroom and often too many trailers.  Teachers have too many students and not always enough prep time.  They are expected to manage, teach, and evaluate.  Often they are not aware of things happening in hallways, bathrooms, and on the bus.  It is your job to gather this information from your kid, evaluate it (as not everything your kid says will be accurate or fact) then report it. 

A great way to keep tabs on a teacher is to compare classroom work to Georgia's Performance Standards.  Georgia has a website for teachers and parents that details curriculum.  See it HERE. Unfortunately there is no parent evaluation for teachers as part of a teacher's annual review.  (I know, teachers would love to do a Parent Evaluation as some parents will do nothing all year except make sure their kid gets on the bus everyday).  

Have a great teacher?  Let him/her know, often.

Dunwoody parents, you want great schools and awesome student learning?  Then get involved and stay involved.  All schools need volunteers now and all year. Don't rely 100% on the government (DeKalb School District) for the education of your kid.  Show up and volunteer at your local schools.  Parents, your kids' teachers like parents to help.  Ask what you can do to help them have the best year possible.
















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