horrible phone call from parent

Discussion in 'High School' started by funnyface07, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    Apr 30, 2012

    As my title states, I just had an unbelievable half hour phone call with a parent.

    She basically completely bullied me about her daughter's grade. First, it was about her daughter failing a recent test and complaining that students didn't have enough time to finish: yes, there were about 5 or 6 out of 30 who did not finish, but that to me is a reflection of how well they know the material. I had a good spread of grades on this test, which I explained to her, so its not like everyone did poorly (which, I DID have on another test, and I gave them a chance to earn points back). She complained because her daughter stayed after with me to review and basically still failed, and then went on about how she "needs" to do well for when she applies to colleges next year, and she thought this fact was "cleared up" when she spoke with me about conferences. Her daughter's math skills are weak. She stays after with me sometimes before a test, which to me is not enough, so I suggested she sets up weekly appointments at least. Then, even though she was somewhat pleased with this solution, the mother turns it against me and asked why it took a phone call for me to propose that solution. :dizzy:

    Um... what????? I was SO angry and wanted to argue with her so badly, but I'm a new teacher and have NEVER been put in this situation as of yet. Grades to me are not a hand out - they are about performance. If you're upset with a grade (and meanwhile, she is NOT failing the class), arguing with me isn't going to change it. I did NOT say this to her. I basically said I will have to talk to my supervisor to see what I can do about this recent test she took and if theres any way to earn points back.

    There was a lot more... she said that perhaps my teaching abilities were not up to par and threatened to have a meeting with my "boss". That hurt me VERY badly - like I said, I'm completely new, and just started this position in January. Frankly, I would not be worried because my supervisor has even praised me on my abilities and particularly my communication with parents.

    I just really really really needed to vent, and I guess I'm looking for advice too. I've been crying since that phone call, though I don't even really know why. I think its because it was just so hard getting beaten up like that, but feeling too cautious about my job security not to cause a stir :(

    (thanks if anyone read all of this!)
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 30, 2012

    I'm very sorry that this parent said hurtful things to you. :( I've certainly been there, more times than I wish to remember. A few months ago I had a really bad phone call. I have been working with this kid so much this year, bending over backwards to help her understand the material, and the student is still struggling. I called the parent to let her know something positive that the student had done, and the mom immediately laid into me about some missing work that the student had not yet turned in. The parent was angry with me because I hadn't focused on the late work with the student (because we were working on the CURRENT work in our study session). The parent said, "Some teacher you are!" and hung up on me. It hurt my feelings a lot, especially because I have been taking her kid under my wing and doing SO MUCH for her. It taught me that sometimes, for some parents, my best isn't good enough. I can't change that, so there's no point worrying about it or stressing about it. (Although I will admit that I do still stress and worry, although I'm trying to do better.)

    In general, I think you've got to be like a duck. Just let everything roll off your back, like a duck does with water. I realize that's easier said than done, and I'm still working on being able to do it myself. Still, it's a good goal to aim for.

    For this particular situation, would you be willing to let the student retake the test after a specified number of review sessions and practice activities? That might get the parent off your case and give the student a second chance at understanding the material.
     
  4. cult

    cult Rookie

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    Apr 30, 2012

    If this child has an IEP or 504 work with the student's special education teacher to develop a remediation plan. If your school offers formal tutoring services, recommend that the student participate. Document every conversation with this parent.
     
  5. chebrutta

    chebrutta Fanatic

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    Apr 30, 2012

    :hugs: What an awful call!

    You've also encountered "that parent." The one who will seize the fact that you are new and try to intimidate you into doing whatever they want. Also know that this type of parent can show up at any point in your career. It doesn't happen every year, but they do pop up. I have one this year.

    I say have a chat with your boss. Outline the conversation and your test policies. Find out where s/he thinks you should go with this. A good admin will know that this is bullying/intimidation and will guide you through it.

    I think , though, the weakest part of your argument will be that sometimes you allow them to earn points back and sometimes you don't. For next year, you may want to consider a more concrete retesting policy - for example, anything below a 70% or 60% can retest if they do test corrections.

    And finally... it's a good learning experience! I know it sucked while it was happening (and reliving it afterwards), but you got the first, awful confrontation out of the way. You're much better prepared for the next time it happens.
     
  6. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    Apr 30, 2012

    She does not have an IEP, 504, or any accommodations whatsoever.
     
  7. cult

    cult Rookie

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    Apr 30, 2012

    If she is demonstrating weak math skills, and your school has an RtI program in place, you might want to recommend her for participation. What year in school is this child?
     
  8. swansong1

    swansong1 Maven

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    Apr 30, 2012

    This is where I would have ended the phone call and told the lady (I use that term loosely!) that we will continue this meeting when my supervisor can be here. Thank you for calling...goodbye!
    Then I would have gone right to my supervisor and let him/her handle the parent.
    You have an absolute right NOT to be berated by a parent.
     
  9. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Apr 30, 2012

    You should only put up with a phone call like that for so long. If the parent is still being unreasonable, you then choose one of the following options:

    1. "This phone call is over. Have a nice day."
    2. "We're obviously not getting anywhere with this. You should really contact my vice principal."

    Problem solved.


    ;)
     
  10. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 30, 2012

    I'm actually perfectly okay with the OP's justification of why she let the students earn points back on the other test. She stated that most of the class did poorly on that one so she allowed an opportunity that she wouldn't otherwise give. I would have done something similar if I had an entire class tank a test. On the test in question, however, there was a fair spread of grades, so it's not unreasonable to not allow do-overs. If a handful of students do poorly, it's their problem. If an entire class does poorly, the problem is mine.

    To the OP: I would definitely give your admin a heads up about this. It would be awful if the parent sprung his on him or her without prior knowledge. Your admin will be in a far better position to support you if they already know what's going on.
     
  11. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    May 1, 2012

    Start a file and document the call. If the conversation leads you to think that the parent might actually call your super, you might give him or her a heads up. Form a resolve to continue to do with the student whatever seems right to you, and then forget about the stupid phone call. It's just the sort of noise some people make, as crows go caw caw caw.
     
  12. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Let me guess...this is a B or C student thats mother wants to be an A student. Instead of her child doing the work, mom is just going to bully everyone into giving her an A. This mother is not teaching her child about hard work or success while she is under her roof. A friend and I discussed this last night. We were talking about students like this that had graduated and went to college. Most of them returned home and either quit college or went to community college because they couldn't handle it when mom wasn't there to fight their battles.
     
  13. fluffy12

    fluffy12 New Member

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    May 1, 2012

    Hang on in there!

    Please don't allow parents to bully you. What difference does it make if you are a first year or a seasoned teacher, no matter what, parents will complain when there children does not receive the grades they feel are deserving. Hang on in there and don't allow parents to change your classroom rules and the way you are teaching. What you need to do is explain to the parent that the student is having problems in certain areas of math and maybe a tutor is necessary. Job security should not be the issue at hand. Speak you mind and stick to your beliefs.
     
  14. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    May 4, 2012

    I couldn't agree more with the previous poster: You can't let a parent bully you. There is respectful and polite, and then there is doormat. Never let yourself be the latter.

    You have the degree in education, you were hired to teach, not the parent. Most parents, just like most members of the general public, have absolutely no idea what it's like to educate children. Many of them think they know because they've all sat in desks, but they don't know.

    Education is every bit as complex and intellectually challenging as medicine or any other important field. You don't call your surgeon to challenge him on the finer points of surgery. Don't let a parent challenge you.
     
  15. biologyland

    biologyland Rookie

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    May 4, 2012

    I had one of these recently. It was on a day that I'd had a panic attack in the morning, tried to call in but my administrator wouldn't let me because it was the day after spring break, and was really just not ready to deal with any additional stress. A parent actually came to the school with the intention of walking down to my classroom to yell in my face, but they stopped her at the door and made her call from the attendance office (thank goodness!). She was mad about her daughter being marked absent "every other day" when she was always at school. The student chose to work in another teacher's classroom (we plan together and our rooms are connected, so we frequently let students go back and forth like station work), and when they do that it is their responsibility to check in with me. That day, she did not come and check in with me, and since she was always so good about it, I assumed that she must have been absent. So the parent calls and is screaming at me, told me I was an idiot, made fun of me when I had to repeat myself because my voice was hoarse, and threatened to have me meet with the principal (in a meeting that I "wouldn't like"). I never got the chance to say anything productive and she hung up on me before I could tell her that I hadn't marked her child absent since January. This was a student that I had worked with A LOT and brought her grade up from an F to a B, and I was really hurt that her mother would treat me like that.

    Needless to say, I excused myself from my classroom, asked the teacher next door to listen in on my kids while they did their work, and sat in the teacher's lounge and cried for a bit. It sucks. It caught me completely off guard, but I'm better because of it. I sent a note home with her daughter the next day along with a copy of her attendance record to clear up the issue and I haven't heard from the parent again (as a side note, she was completely out this morning, and I am holding my breath and waiting for another phone call...).

    Keep your head up. Don't let these parents intimidate you! These kids have a huge sense of entitlement and some of their parents are no better. Just don't let it get to you. If you need to take a breather and get your emotions out, do it, but get right back up on that saddle. :)
     
  16. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Groupie

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    May 4, 2012

    A guardian came to see me one day because I took issue with a student taking the lords name in vain multiple times a day and refusing to stop (in a Catholic school). The guardians had already been in because this student's behavior was always out of control to the point that it prevented the other students from learning. This guy actually sneaked into the back of the building and came to my classroom with the student telling me that I was wrong and that there was nothing wrong with him saying that. I repeated to him that the student's behavior needed to improve immediately and he agreed but not with me just the theory. I kept telling him that he was more than free to go discuss the matter with the principal and he refused. I would never have an issue with a parent going to a supervisor especially when I'm right. Needless to say the student's behavior did not improve and actually got worse. The day after the incident when the student was acting out I asked the student if I needed to speak with his guardian again he told me that I didn't speak to him, he SPOKE to me. The kid didn't come up with that on his own. Sometimes students are not what there parents had hoped for and they try to force them to be, other times students are just a reflection of the people around them.
     
  17. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    May 4, 2012

    Thank you so much for all of the advice, definitely helped me to focus back that *I* am the teacher and quite frankly, this parent doesn't have the right to demand a grade for her child.

    I spoke to my supervisor and she was completely on my side - what I agreed to do is give an extra credit assignment on material from *that* test the mother complained about, to EVERYONE in the class, and they can use it towards any test they want for this marking period (which is actually just a ploy to make them feel like they have a choice... their grades are on a point system, so it gets factored in the same, regardless). I have every intention on making it challenging, and completely worth the points. I wrote a very courteous but direct email to the mother (because I wanted it documented) saying what I was going to do, and also that I would like to go over the test with her daughter so she can do better next time, and will refer her to the school's tutoring system so she is guaranteed to get one on one attention and practice. This seemed to please her - so I'm glad this situation is off my plate (for now), and I didn't have to give in to her crazy demands!

    Wouldn't you know, I went over the test with my student, and the main issue was that her algebra 1 skills are weak. Once again, why I reiterated that peer tutoring would be a good option for her.
     
  18. JetShack

    JetShack Rookie

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    May 7, 2012

    This.

    (and mrachelle87 love your avatar. Go Pokes!)
     

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