Picture a board game called The Blame Game. Squares on the game lead from elementary through middle school and high school and then into college. The first player chooses a card with a first grade level question. If the player answers the question correctly, he moves to the second grade square. If he misses it, he stays in the same spot until he can answer a question from the first grade pile. The player must answer questions from each grade level to advance to college.

But in each grade stack, there are “blame” cards. They read one of the following:

1)Students say it’s the teachers’ fault that they haven’t progressed as far as they should have. 2) Teachers say it’s the parents’ fault because they haven’t raised their children right. 3) The parents say it’s the administrators’ fault because they don’t know how to run the schools. 4) The administrators try to figure out who hasn’t been blamed yet so they’ll know who to blame. At the bottom of each “blame” card, it reads either “stay in the same space for two turns” or “go back” a given number of spaces. After all, when we waste time playing the Blame Game, it’s usually impossible to move forward.

Rather than blaming each other, we need to complement each other. Yes, I mean “complement,” and here are a few ways we can accomplish this:

Parents

• You are your child’s first teachers. They learn first from you, respect, how much you value education, and that rules are put in place for a reason and should be followed. You are also the first to teach them about the importance of being on time.

• If your children know you have high expectations for them, they are much more likely to rise to those expectations.

• If your child does not have homework on a regular basis, ask why.

• In McAllen ISD, parents are able to get a Skyward account and check your child’s grades and attendance online any time. Contact your child’s school. It is a simple process, and you’ll be able to see grades for every assignment and every class and to make sure your child hasn’t missed any classes. Most districts have similar programs, so take time to sign up.

• Thankfully, School Fusion is back in MISD. Become familiar with it because many teachers post assignments and other important information there.

Students

• To succeed, you must take responsibility for your education. I love the motto: Good, better, best, never rest until good becomes better, and better, best.

• Respect and discipline are two cornerstones of strong character.

• Use a planner. It will help you stay organized and be prepared.

• If you misbehave in class, you prevent the students who are there to learn from doing so.

• Have you decided on a career yet? Once you do, make sure you know what it takes to get there so you can start putting the pieces in place as early as possible.

Teachers

• We must give our students respect in order to earn theirs.

• Our students deserve teachers who teach them every day.

• It is our responsibility to enforce school rules.

• As Dr. Seuss would say, oh the places our students can go if we take them beyond knowledge to critical thinking and application of that knowledge.

• It’s not enough to challenge our students. We must also challenge ourselves, always, to become better at what we do.

Administrators

• An academic environment is only possible where students are in class and high behavioral expectations are in place.

• A positive, supportive environment creates a place where teachers and students feel safe and able to grow to our full potential and parents feel welcome.

• You set the academic tone of the campus by your professionalism and how you inspire teachers to teach and students to learn.

It’s a new year. Hopefully the Blame Game will be thrown in the trash so we can truly work together. In the end, that will make all of us winners.

Chris Ardis is in her 27th year of teaching, 26 of those with McAllen ISD. You can visit her web site at www.chrisardis.com.