Crazy parent!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by rachaelski, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    Oct 18, 2009

    I teach an amazing group of 8th grade girls, who are well above their grade level in reading, maturity, and capabilities. Part of my classroom is literature circles. The girls first chose to read Lord of the Flies. After completing that book, the girls asked me for some more contemporary titles. I suggested one book, but because it included sex and suicide in the story, I emailed the parents to ask for clearance. Initially, the parents agreed, but after one parent read a bit of the book she changed her mind...which was totally fine. However, she voiced her concern via email, with the other parents CC'd on the email. This resulted in a second parent sending me a passive aggressive email, chiding me for choosing such a book as a Catholic school teacher, questioning my teaching methods, and blaming me for the girl's beginning of year reading scores. She even sent me a link to the book being on a "challenged book list," which many books, like The Outsiders and Tom Sawyer are on.

    I am a pretty confident teacher, and knew that parents can be a bit pushy. I respectfully responded to this mother, explaining the test scores and my (lack of) involvement in them. I pointed out that my practices are based in research and that many books that are considered classics are on the same list she cited.

    She cooled off. Then the girls decided that they wanted to try to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. She sent another raging email, with all parents CC'd citing that the book was a poor choice, with its gigantic killer wasps and werewolves as being too violent. Then she suggested a meeting with "the parents and teacher...and principal."

    At this point I respond that the principal is well aware of what is going on. Then I ask if this big of a fuss was made when the kids read The Outsiders the previous year. I then went on to say that I am a professional in my field and have experience and success in this area.

    To make matters worse, one girl sent me an email voicing her frustration and annoyance with the parents. She asked to leave the literature circles group!

    What am I to do with this parent?!?!?! I have been receiving emails and having conversations with the other parents, and they feel sorry for me. One led me to believe that the parent is picking on me and to "watch out." The science teacher had a problem with this same parent last year (she is going to tell me more on Monday).

    How do I handle this???
     
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  3. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2009

    I would start by stopping the emails. I would send an email to parents to let them know that you will no longer be able to respond to emails this year as the method doesn't seem to be helping with clarity. If you have a supportive principal I would invite the parent to come in and have the principal in attendance. I would ask them what they wanted their child to do. I would have the book choice ready. Did they want her excluded from literature circles or was she allowed to participate? Don't hold all the other kids hostage.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2009

    I agree... this one gets kicked to administration.

    The parents may get veto power, but they do not get to choose the syllabus.
     
  5. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    Oct 18, 2009

    In the last email, I pointed out that the girls were the victims here. I also asked if she wanted her daughter excused from the literature circles. Part of the idea and joy of the literature circles is student-selected texts. The girls wanted something more contemporary, and this is what I think this parent struggles with. The parent wants her daughter to read "tried and true" literature (even though her daughter consistently reads contemporary adolescent literature for her independent reading...) as opposed to the contemporary titles the girls are picking. (I am not anti-canonical literature, I want the girls to see a variety of literature.)

    My P was out sick Friday, I will pass the information on to her tomorrow. Thanks for the advice CT and Alice
     
  6. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2009

    I think this is one of the biggest challenges of email - just like facebook rumours among our students - a parent can basically stage an argument in front of the entire parent group and you don't have normal recourse - like leaving the room.
     
  7. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    Oct 18, 2009

    I agree, stop the emails. I would hold a voluntary meeting with the parents of the girls in this group and come up with a list of a few books that everyone can agree on- include the kids in this, if you can- that way you won't have to go through this when they finish the next book!
     
  8. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Oct 18, 2009

    Can I also suggest that next year if you choose to send out parent e-mails, use the BCC feature. This way parents can not reply all to other parents.
     
  9. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Oct 18, 2009

    I am ashamed to say that I might have been that parent a hundred years ago. For me, it was the loss of control over my daughter, and I wanted to protect her from everything. If the teacher had involved me more in the process of selecting the material, I think I would have cooperated more.

    I don't know if this if the parent's problem, or just wanting to cause trouble. Good luck, the children need you.
     
  10. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Oct 19, 2009

    BCC is a wonderful invention!

    I think the girls need to make a list of books they're interested in, and present it to the parents during a meeting with the P.

    Hope everything works out! Keep us updated!
     
  11. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    Oct 20, 2009

    FYI, the parents all know each other, and the parent created the original email...which is why BCC wasn't used.

    And now for the rest of the story....

    I have an email from the crazy parent, which confirms her craziness! She has decided that she changed her mind and the book is fine, and then she goes into a long detailed email about how I hurt her feelings! Because I pointed out that our debating the issue is keeping the kids from reading, I hurt her feelings. She said I assumed that she didn't know anything about adolescent literature, and that hurt her feelings. Basically, any action I took hurt her feelings.

    I caught my principal up, and she just laughed. This parent behaves like this about once a year. My P told me that she has my back, and it's okay to push back a little if the parent pushes. She is amazingly supportive. I am so lucky.

    Thanks for the support and advice!
     

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