My students are writing complaints about me, and I'm worried

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Kenz501, May 13, 2017.

  1. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    May 13, 2017

    Hi,

    I work as a teacher at a detention center, but lately, my students have been writing grievance forms (they're a complaint form the kids have free access to, probably intended to prevent serious abuse) concerning my lack of interaction and face-to-face instructional time. This really isn't that kind of class, and I don't think I'm wrong to not interact much with the kids. I do walk around and answer questions if the students have them, and I provide them with work to work on when they aren't at the computers. I'm also available to tutor small groups or answer any questions the students might have. It's not my fault if they don't take advantage of the time.

    Really, I feel like this is just the kids trying to take advantage of me and get everything working their way, and, no, I will not give in to such blatant harassment. These grievance forms do count on teacher evaluations, but what's being done to me isn't fair and makes little sense. For example, my most recent student grievance was filed by a student after finding out that they weren't getting movie time that day.
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    May 13, 2017

    Are you able to respond to the grievances? I'm kind of assuming that administrators in charge are aware of the tricks these students will pull...after all, if they were honest, upstanding students, would they be in this placement?
     
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  4. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    May 13, 2017

    Is there a reason you don't interact much with the kids? (Do they not listen? Or is classroom management tough?) I would explain why you run your class the way you do to the admin and talk about opportunities for students to seek help. I do think it may be worth it to consider what the students are saying. I'm not sure what you teach but I think the students may want some form of whole class instruction and you may want to try to add some to your class.
     
  5. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    May 13, 2017

    They do most of their learning on the computers. I'm not certified for every subject they're taking, and it would be quite difficult to put together a lesson for everything they're learning. I could do it, but I'm not required to. Plus, at this point, I'm thinking that giving in and doing what they requested would have negative consequences because then they would be encouraged to write more complaints when things aren't going their way, even if their requests right now are reasonable.
     
  6. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    They are well aware of it, but these complaint forms go to the people above them and really can mess things up. I was required to get checked by medical staff due to one of these kids' silly little complaints. It was all made up, but that didn't stop them from wanting to investigate.
     
  7. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    I see--that is a difficult situation. Does admin expect that the students also complete their work on the computers without whole class instruction? I'm assuming so and therefore you can just explain that you are following school policy and students have many opportunities to meet with you.
     
  8. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    May 13, 2017

    My reaction to your situation would be completely dependent on my assessment of the admin competency in the building.If you believe you have competent administration that can assess the situation accurately and provide meaningful feedback to both you and the students then I would seek their opinion on the situation. If the admin is incompetent, I would ignore the issue. Conversations with them would just add more frustration and be a complete waste of time.

    My assumption in this response is that the students issues/complaints are unwarranted.
     
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  9. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    May 13, 2017

    If they have any valid arguments, they should have presented them to me personally. Those complaint forms are for serious issues, and I don't always get to read them. They go to people who are a lot a higher than me or my administrators before the Education department even sees them. The students are just trying to give me a hard time. They've used this strategy in the past, too. It's not something new. I successfully avoided it for a while, though.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
  10. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    I'm sick of working in a place where the kids can write me up! Nothing really bad has come of it, because I've been proactive with dealing with these complaints, but there's something very wrong with the leniency of the complaints policy; kids are not punished for making up stories and blatantly lying on educators.
     
  11. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    May 13, 2017

    Kenz, if nothing has ever come out of these complaints, why worry or bother with them? Sounds like the admin is savvy enough to understand what is going on. They are probably throwing them in the waste basket. It let's the students feel like they have a "voice" in things.and yes, someone of them will not be truthful. I think most adults in this field understand that.
     
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  12. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    May 13, 2017

    My administrators probably do understand what's going on, but the admin isn't the first person to see them, and my former boss acted very concerned about the number of complaints I was receiving from students. I've heard that they do reflect negatively on teacher evaluations, and someone takes these complaints pretty seriously because I've been required to either take action to improve or disprove aforementioned complaints.

    Plus, I've only been working here for around two years. I feel like I have a right to be concerned, as some students believe that they can get rid of a teacher simply by writing enough complaints.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
  13. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    May 13, 2017

    one suggestion you might try next year....tell the kids you want to be the first person that hears their complaint, not the last. Tell them you will listen to any suggestion or idea as long as it's specific and something that is within your power to control (i.e. 'our cafeteria sucks" is not something I can do anything about. "We need more example problems in class" is. "We shouldn't have to take algebra 2" is out of my control. ETC.) Tell them that complaints to their parents and/or admin should occur ONLY if a resolution cannot be reached between you and the student.

    If the kids that you are open to suggestions (within the above parameters) AND that you expect them to deal with you first, you will stop most problems. In 5 years after implementing this procedure, I have had only one student feel the need to go to admin with an issue. And that student DID not talk to me first. It was a relatively minor thing. Hope this is of value to you. Best wishes. i can imagine that situation would be frustrating.
     
  14. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    I'm willing to try it, but this isn't the first time I've had this particular handful of students. I feel like at least one of them is well aware of what he is doing, and I think he's just taking out his frustrations on me. When students come back from court and learn they have to do more time here, they sometimes react by blaming the teachers.
     
  15. vickilyn

    vickilyn Maven

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    May 13, 2017

    Do you have an aide or a safety in the room with you? Writing up grievances is something that kids in detention learn about and practice regularly. I recommend making sure that you have a second person in the room at all times. It also helps if that person doesn't become overly friendly with your students, since the students will then attempt to "staff split."
     
  16. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    I think they do practice "staff split" pretty often sometimes. I do have a detention officer in the room with me, but she doesn't handle classroom management stuff, at least not often. That's my department. She only handles it when it gets out of hand, like if a fight breaks out.
     
  17. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    How should I respond to this? From my perspective, I have a group of snarky students who think they can get me fired by putting down some words on paper. If I make any changes at this point, they might think their complaints influenced me to do so and will, therefore, be encouraged to "write me up" again when things don't go their way. I do want to change things a little, though, because I don't like the "boring" nature of the class, either. I just don't want to feel like I'm rewarding bad behavior or giving up control. The classroom functions in a way right now that is most convenient for me.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
  18. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    If you have changes you would like to make and believe it would enhance the classroom experience for all, by all means change things up. Don't worry about 'saving face". A better classroom WILL make your life easier, not harder.
     
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  19. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Companion

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    Jun 16, 2017

    It's been a while since I've updated this, but the complaints are continuing. I think the students do think it is a way of intimidating me and controlling me. The grievance forms can count against the facility and the individual teacher receiving them. I've been given the idea that it's out of anyone's hands to help with this issue, and, of course, it frustrates me, because sometimes I feel like the kids have as much authority as I do in the classroom, even though their agenda is wildly different and the complaints are often things that they should have addressed with me, not taken to the supervisors of the institution. It looks to me like they are just trying to make me look incompetent, and I had enough of that nonsense when I was a substitute teacher. ( I think it says something when people think it's a victory when they frustrate people who are genuinely trying to help them.) Plus, it's only my second year here. I've never taught as a full-time teacher in a public school at all, and it doesn't help that my coworkers are all retired teachers who know these games really well. I sometimes feel foolish about my problems. The other teachers claim that I have the easiest job of all. How and why am I failing at "the easiest job at the whole detention center?"
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
  20. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    It sounds to me from your description that you are a monitor not a teacher ( lack certification in areas and computer program is doing teaching). Could it be their real complaint is they expect a real teacher for all subjects and the system gave them someone not capable in all subjects. This isn't a put down because I wouldn't expect anyone to be credentialed across all subjects.
     
  21. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Jun 16, 2017

    Okay, I'm going to share my experience with something similar that happened to me this year. I had a rough year for many reasons. Mind you, I'm a 15 year veteran teacher, two-time teacher of the year at my school, head of my department, etc. And I had a class with a handful of snarky little punks in it this year that I dreaded on a daily basis. Seriously, they were honors students and I was happier with my class full of wannabe juvenile delinquents than this group of coddled, spoiled, smart*sses who rolled their eyes and argued over everything I said. Just...blech. Nasty little critters, LOL.

    Upon reflection though, I have to be honest and realize that I wasn't all that great of a teacher this year, especially this second semester when I had this disgruntled crew. Now, part of me says, "Tough! I'm the teacher, you're the student, deal with it! I'm not here to put on a show for your lazy butts." But the other part of me says, "There is some truth to their complaining." I don't like admitting that, and I still don't think they should be rude little snots about it, but the fact is I felt like I was substitute teaching for myself a lot this semester, and in fact some issues outside of school did cause me to be out more than usual too.

    But if I'm honest, I think their grumbling and griping bothered me a lot because I knew it was, in part at least, justified.

    So, I'm doing some things this summer to reinvigorate my teaching and lessons, and I'm really excited to get back to being a great teacher next year! And I'm not going to lie, part of me is happy that those little eye-rollers aren't going to get the benefit of my best teaching. Because I do believe they would have whined and complained no matter what. It's sort of their MO.

    I guess my suggestion is to do some honest reflecting, and figure out if this is happening and bothering you so much because you have some insecurity and actually know the kids might be right on some level. There's no shame in admitting that.
     

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