Monday, November 06, 2006

Oh, the parents....

I had this very insightful post ready about how my mood affects my kids and blahblahblah...but it disappeared, and I don't have the energy to re-write, I'm going to complain for a minute...or two...

I have a parent who took issue with her son's teachers, myself included. Instead of emailing us with her concerns, however, she waited until two days before the end of the quarter and emailed our superintendent and principal. They told her she needed to discuss her concerns with his teachers, so I got a nasty email from her and a visit from the principal.
Her issue was (and still is) that her son is failing. For the first half of the quarter, he didn't turn any homework in to me. He missed several days and didn't make up the work...never even asked me about it. I notified our freshmen intervention coordinator. I sent a progress report home to get signed by the parent (it came back signed). And I talked to the student's case managers (he has an I.E.P.). At that point in time, out of the fifty freshmen I have, twenty were failing. I couldn't call all those parents, hence the signed progress report. We were also told that case managers contacted parents in those cases (while they were told it was up to the regular ed. teacher).
Any student who didn't return the progress report got a phone call home, but because his was returned, I assumed she knew what his grade was. This cut down significantly on the number of phone calls I had to make, and my students began turning in homework, which was the main reason for poor grades.
After recieving this nasty email, I attempted to call her and never got a call back. A couple days later, I emailed her, letting her know I did attempt to contact her through the progress report and that her son had gotten better about turning in assignments. She didn't reply.
This mother was nasty to me and also to the student's other teachers and especially his case manager, so I decided if she wanted contact, I'd give her contact. I've now emailed her four times and called twice to date. I have recieved one nasty reply to my email where she asked if there was anything further to discuss. I told her that yes, there was.
I told her in no uncertain terms that her son is doing poorly because of his own actions. I told her that I'm holding up my end of the bargain by following the I.E.P., while she and her son aren't. I told her he's lazy and wastes time, and if he wants to earn a passing grade in my class, he better get his act together.
I have yet to hear from her.

What bothers me about the whole thing is that I feel like I'm treating the son differently. Normally when a student sits and does nothing when given class-time to work, I'll say something once. After that, it's a choice the student is making. But with this kid, I'm constantly on his back. He's been diagnosed ADHD and does not take meds, so this is a frequent thing. I don't lash out at the student, but I am watching him more closely...and I email what I see to his mother. If he sits for twenty minutes and stares at the wall, then I let her know that. I know I shouldn't be on him because of his mother, but no matter how hard I try, I do. It's very difficult not to...


Princess of the Portable said...

I feel your pain. There is a parent in one of my classes who apparently has an issue with my teaching. Of course, I heard about this from an administrator. They too told her to contact me. She didn't.

She has bigger issues with the math teacher (and the curriculum, as it turns out). She's caused quite a stir with the math drama.

Of course, this parent then did not sign up for a single parent/teacher conference. Luckily, administration has basically told us to listen to her, nod, smile and document while they assured us we were doing our jobs well.

CrypticLife said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with what you're doing. It seems you have enough of a paper trail to cover that you've reasonably attempted to keep contact with the parent.

As for treating this kid differently, you seem to have valid justification and you're serving the kid in the end, not the parent. I don't know the age of your kids, but it sounds like he needs the oversight.

The only advice I could give would be not to let it eat at you too much.

Incidentally, I'm quite jealous. I'd love to have the email address of my son's teachers. School admin is worried about being constantly spammed. It's not an entirely unreasonable worry, though I'd be pretty judicious.

M said...

oh god, I can identify with this so much. It's so frustrating when the kid is not holding up their end of the bargain but you get blamed!

Dennis Fermoyle said...

As I said in an earlier comment, for the first time in three years, I'm teaching a basic class again, so I definitely know how you feel. I also agree with your overall approach to handling your kids. At some point, kids have to choose that they want to learn. We have too many students to be spending a great deal of time harping on those that don't. The problem is that these kids have effects on other kids, and you know what I think we should be able to do about that.

I do want to point out that while it's hard to get parents like the one you described out of our minds, most parents are pretty good. We just had our conferences, and I was a little nervous going in since 21 of my 92 regular American history students earned Fs, and 6 of my basic kids have incompletes (I use mastery learning in that class). A suprising number of their parents showed up, and this year every one of them was supportive. Don't worry, though, AT, it doesn't go like that every year.

Onyx said...

A parent called my principal to complain and request a transfer. Woo Hoo! This kid can try to put her make up on in somebody else's class.

Too many parents think their darlings deserve A's for breathing!

What is wrong with parents these days? They are harder to deal with than the kids!

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

We've all been there and feel your pain. As long as you are meeting the IEP, etc. I would keep doing what you are doing. However, as an ex-paralegal, be very careful about your wording in emails. They can become legal documents and can be submitted in court as evidence. Make sure you documentation for everything you advise a parent.

jspeter said...

This is a common problems in schools today. There are so many students that act this way, but their parents do not understand why the student is failing. Some parents do not understand that a teacher is responsible for many other student and that all your attention cannot be spent on them. It is difficult to let a parent know their child is failing. It is our job to let them know and if they do not do anything about it, then there is nothing the teacher can do. As a future educator, I am trying to learn the best ways communicate with parents. Reading these blogs help me for future altercations and what is the best way to act in different situations.

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