Casual Chit Chat with the Family over the Weekend


I’m beginning to think that I am not capable of casual chit chat when it comes to talking about children and education.

I don’t remember how the topic of conversation came up, but I was with some of my family over the weekend and one of my relatives was speaking about a local school district and how they can’t seem to hire and retain any quality teachers. He was questioning what the issue was with the administration and why after all these years of receiving additional funding from the government for teacher salaries, students still are not scoring well on the tests.

Pause. Breathe…Lisa…Maybe this is not the time and place to talk about all the… OH FORGET IT!!!

Maybe, just maybe, I was able to tweak this relative’s view on public education a little bit as I talked about the student population of this specific district. I spoke of how most of these students came from foreign countries where formal schooling was not common place. They had to take the State standardized tests, possibly before they even had a handle on the English language. By the time they were finally getting into a routine at school, making friends, adjusting to the schedule, their family would find jobs elsewhere and relocate. The test scores that were published in the local newspaper were not indicative of the time, effort, skill, ability and knowledge of the students or the teachers in the district, merely, the situation of that given day.

The response…”Huh? I didn’t know that. I never thought about it that way.”

I don’t know how I thought he would respond. The others in the general vicinity kind of slinked away. Perhaps I may have ranted a bit.

We went on to talk a bit about Universal Design for Learning (UDL)  and how I’ve been working with schools and educators in NJ on implementing that framework in their classrooms. We talked about being flexible and accommodating students needs. I gave him examples of my own children needing accommodations in their classrooms and situations of when they got them and when they didn’t.

My concern was that the chit chat at my family gathering last weekend just happened to have two sides to the story. It doesn’t always. Many people, including taxpayers, are making judgements on our fellow educators that are placed in near-impossible positions. I wish I could do more to help people visualize what’s going on in today’s classrooms.

5 thoughts on “Casual Chit Chat with the Family over the Weekend

  1. Wow… I had a similar experience Sunday. The topic of keep your kids off the internet because they will get stalked and raped came up. Apparently I must have come on too strong. When I was done there was silence, followed by that uncomfortable feeling of “how do we leave the room without being noticed.” I forget that most people don’t stay up late at night thinking about education and responding to someone with all the information I have learned in 20 years in 60 seconds can be frightening.

    1. I guess that’s why we hash some of out online Paul. I am looking forward to getting the chance to talk with you again at EdubloggerCon East though this July. An extended conversation is always welcome.

      Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lisa & Paul:

    I think it’s great that you stood up for what you know to be true. Too often people just nod quietly, steam underneath, and let someone else (or the dog!) have it later on b/c they don’t want to rock the boat. I think we need to start worrying less about offending people (yes, even family!) and more about speaking the truth…whether people really want to hear it or not. (Just b/c they don’t want to hear it, doesn’t make it less true!!) If not, how will anything change? And, Paul, you are probably right that most people don’t stay up thinking about those things…but…they still always seem to have opinions on things they don’t have any idea about…and that doesn’t stop THEM from spouting off. (I just wish that when they did, I could quickly retrieve all of those things I have always wanted to say!!) Good going both!!

    Sherry L. de Alvarez

  3. Kudos to you Lisa,

    So glad you followed you spirit. People are so misinformed about many topics and take those mistruths as facts. As educators it is our responsibility to inform others by any means necessary of the facts, even at a family gathering. Hopefully the person you had the conversation with will now inform others when misrepresented information is shared. I am sure others who overheard the conversation impressions have also be altered. I am one educator who appreciates you voice. I have so much more I want to share about your exprience but it will have to wait unitl I see you again. Your experience reminds me of a story I share with new teachers. I will email you a copy.


  4. Lisa,
    Twitter’s down so I’m blog crawlin’ not long after being accosted at a nearby garage sale by a 68 yr old with a chip about education. He caught site of my id badge and embarked on a meandering tale about how he had goofed off in HS but could get 90% on tests. Yet still he was downgraded b/c of behavior. As a father he watched a daughter opt for a quick & easy way to amassing HS credits so she could graduate early. Yada, yada, yada…Oh yeah, he saw Oprah how some boy at 14 was soon to receive his PhD. yada, yada, yada.

    His solution? Eliminate all k-12 education. Why? b/c as the aforementioned PhD candidate reveals, each coming generation has higher IQ than the previous. Sometimes you just can’t argue. It seems that when some people want to dislike what we do in our “day jobs,” there’s often no real way to help them see the light.

    I’m glad you were able to make an inroad in one such person’s mindset.

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