difficult parents

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by jenn888, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. jenn888

    jenn888 Rookie

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    Oct 5, 2011

    I teach 2nd grade and last year these students were babied by their first grade teachers due to the fact they had classes of thirty. They gave up on the kids and then passed many of them through that should have been retained. In my homeroom class alone 12 out of 24 are on a kindergarten reading level. My team has been hit hard with parents complaining that the work is too hard, tests are too hard etc. We have all had parents at our door in the morning and after-school ready to complain and blame us for their child not performing well. I was out sick today and I called a co-worker to ask her how the day was and she told me (we team teach) that a parent stayed all morning to "watch" and when the kids were at specials all the parent did was complain about everything and say her child made all A's in first grade. Why is she failing 2nd. We have never had parents like this. I need to add most of our parents will not help their child at home, and then complain that their child is failing...we can't do it all!!! I need some advice on how to handle these parents:help:
     
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  3. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Have a meeting with your team and the principal. Get a plan in place for working with this group. They need and deserve a plan to bring them forward in their learning. Don't blame the first grade teacher please. She had her hands full with 30 !!! first graders! And they did not suddenly become below level.

    Just take them where they are and move them forward.
     
  4. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Usually, I resist blaming the parents. I know the kind of stresses parents are under and the things they deal with.

    However, this kind of gets under my skin. Parents *should* have an idea of where their children should be academically, and shouldn't just assume the teacher is teaching exactly what they're supposed to at the level they're supposed to. That kind of thinking is no small part of the reason the US doesn't fare well academically (among others -- but that's certainly part of it).

    Anyway, with that out of my system:

    There has to be a consistent message. The consistent message should be that the work is indeed more challenging, that you will be working with the kids to raise the bar on their performance, and that if the parents can also help at home it will enable them to meet the challenge sooner. Stress that you will be patient, and it isn't your aim to have anyone retained.

    Personally, I think you should INVITE all the parents in to watch. Maybe take a day and announce that all parents may come between 10-11, or whatever, to watch the class (if they all take you up on it, they'll be lined crowded around the walls. This is okay. I've seen it done, and it's not as bad as you might think, though I imagine the students are told not to wave, etc., and the parents coached to be silent and to hold questions/comments until later). This kind of action says not only are you not hiding anything (a ridiculous idea, but some parents will think so), but that you want the parents to see what you do.
     
  5. jenn888

    jenn888 Rookie

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    umm..there was 4 classes of 30 and they admitted they gave up, the P is aware of this. He is not happy. The point is many should not be in 2nd grade that are. We have kids that failed the 1st-3rd nine weeks of first grade a magically made an A the 4th nine weeks to have a D average to pass first grade.
     
  6. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    It is just that I cannot imagine ever having 30 first graders and accomplishing anything. I struggle with a class size half that amount. It makes me wonder why the earlier teachers "just gave up?" I didn't mean to sound harsh toward YOU. It does sound like a mess and something you need some help with, to get a plan going and help this kids to advance. It doesn't seem likely that so many would have learning disabilities.

    There is something wrong for sure. So you second grade teachers need a plan, you need a consistent answer for parents, and then do the best you can.
     
  7. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2011

    Why in the world are those parents permitted to be at your door before and after school and to take up your planning time? There seems to be no boundaries.

    Other than that, I second other posters' advice.
     
  8. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    At our school the kids can't be retained unless the parents ok it and not many do. Also, in our school, first and second graders don't get traditional grades- they strive for Mastery in several areas.

    I don't know really what to tell you, and I know I'm not fully aware of your entire situation, but I think blaming the first grade teachers is not helpful in any way. I don't want to be blamed for a particularly low group of kids!!

    Perhaps you can benefit from discussing particular weaknesses with the first grade teachers...might even gain some insight into how it happens that students who were apparently doing so well at the end of first grade are failing at the beginning of second grade- maybe you could identify gaps across the grade levels or something.
     
  9. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Maybe even a grade level parent meeting (with admin present) showing them where the expectation is that the kids end up (reading levels, etc) and where they are as a grade level now. Show them the objectives and that what you are teaching them is what 2nd Graders across the country are doing and need to know to be successful in 3rd Grade. Clearly explain your grading rubrics and how tests are created. Regardless of their experience in 1st Grade, they need to step things up to pass 2nd.
     
  10. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Meet the children where they are-- even if its 2 grade levels below. You can't teach them at grade level if they're clearly NOT ready for it and the parents are going to have the hear the bad news from you and your co-teachers.

    It would be nice if parents were more aware but we are the professionals, not them so we're being paid to know where a child should be.

    This sucks but I'm sure if you have a plan on what to do, these children can go very very far :)
     
  11. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    This seems like a good place to start. Blaming the first grade teachers, or the situation, or the parents, or the parents blaming you is useless. I HATE this way of thinking in our society that we point fingers, place blame and demand apologies. There is a problem and it must be solved, so people should get together to solve it, and yes, that might mean some extra help from the parents.

    Are there other resources you can use to pull your stragglers up to grade level? Do you have intervention available at your school or can you recruit parent volunteers to come in and work with groups?
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It seems to me that the parents have been fed one line last year, and a vastly different one this year. Their kids were passed. So the school was saying these kids were where they needed to be. Now, a few months later, the same school is saying that the kids are behind. HALF the kids are 2 years below level??? That's not the fault of the parents, and it's not the fault of the kids. That's a school that allowed a bad situation to get out of control, and now is playing catch up.

    If my child had scored all A's last year and was failing this year, I would want an explanation too.

    Sorry, I think it's the school, not the parents, that are the problem here. Not you, but the fact that half your class was allowed to fall a year and a half or two years behind where they need to be.

    Are those teachers-- the ones hwo babied their kids, gave up on them, and allowed half of them to fall way behind-- still employed by the school? Are they doing a better job of teaching the current crop of first graders, or can you expect this pattern to repeat next year?

    I understand what everyone is saying about blaming the teachers (though, funny, blaming the parents seems to be OK.) But I don't read this as teachers who tried to pull everything out of those kids. I read it as teachers who gave up because they were overwhelmed, who chose to bide their time until a difficult group of kids were passed on to the next teacher.


    I don't think the parents are being difficult here, I think the school is.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I agree 100% with Alice on this. This is the schools fault. The parents have every right to be angry and of course, they go to the spot of the huge change for the child - the teacher. They are probably assuming (incorrectly) that the school did everything right in the past, but as it seems it isn't the case. They probably assumed last years teachers were being honest - they weren't. They were just trying to avoid upleasant consequeces to their situation whether that be complaining parents or complaining P.

    Fact of the matter here is the school let a large population down. The school needs to fix the problem not just dump it on the OP. It doesn't matter how ANGRY the P is, what matters is what the P ends up doing about it. Actions are the only important measures in this scenario. How does the P address this with the parents? How does the P fix the problem in the 1st grade and possibly K? How does the P make good (which may take several years) for those that were denied an education?
     
  14. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    I don't think blaming ANYONE is helpful. I think meeting the kids where they are and realizing that some years some kids are NOT going to be where you expect them to be and your job is going to be more difficult those years is a good place to start. Honestly, saying that teachers "babied" students is a statement that is based on opinions...

    If you want an answer, the answer is simple: figure out where the kids are, where they need to be, make a plan to get them there, keep the parents informed and involved, and get busy! Just like any other year! JMHO
     
  15. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Any parent who was fed that load and is told how much of a crock it was, is going to naturally wonder where exactly the truth lies and the trust in the school system in general just went down the crappers. It may not seem productive to blame the school, but the fact of the matter is, these parents have every right to be upset AND be skeptical. The downfall of being lied to is that it takes a lot to be believed afterwards. It's not about you but about how the school handled the whole situation. The answer may lie in being able to emphasize with the parents and see it from their perspective. That will help guide you with how to "handle" them. How would you feel if this were YOUR child and the so called professionals dropped the ball the way they did? Would you automatically trust the next professional at that school just because it is a new year or a different person? It's a natural reaction.
     
  16. oldfashioned

    oldfashioned Comrade

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    It certainly seems that 4 overcrowded classes of first graders made learning difficult last year, and this problem was compounded by the school promoting those students who had not shown proficiency on the grade level benchmarks. My question is, is this situation in first grade being repeated this year? If so, next year you will have another class of second graders many of whom will be reading at the kindergarten level. As you solve your problem of "difficult parents" this year, cast a weather eye on what's happening in the grade below in order to head off next year's "difficult parents".
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think that a big part of problem solving is examining the root of the problem. Otherwise you're just trying to stop a hemmorage with a bandaid.

    If the OP is correct in her opinion that the problem was caused by ineffective teaching the year before, then that needs to change. If half a class is that far behind grade level, then I think you have to do more than just meet the kids where they are. You have to work to ensure that next year's kids don't suffer the same fate.
     
  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    But how do you accomplish that? How do I ensure my incoming students receive a proper education? It's out of my hands. Not only are those students in another school, but even if they were in my building, I have no influence whatsoever in decision-making in the grades below my own. This seems more a matter for administration...
     
  19. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    What's the principal's plan for helping this year's group and helping the grade below so this doesn't happen again?

    Y'all are going to need lots of intervention time and intervention teachers. Regardless of how they got in this pickle, they are going to need lots of help and a homeroom teacher, no matter how fabulous, can't get half a class up two years in nine months alone.
     
  20. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Seems nuts to me that first graders are earning Ds...or As or Bs. I didn't realize that was a practice anywhere.
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Yeah, I agree-- it's not something the OP can do. My comment was a response to the idea that we shouldn't "blame" anyone, but meet the kids where they are. I was trying to say that it was a good first step, but not a solution.

    Administration needs to ensure that it doesn't become a pattern.
     
  22. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Got ya. :) I agree...not a long-term solution.

    What is frustrating is that I know administration is aware of poor teaching, and yet nothing is done. No intervention, no offered assistance, coaching, whatever. Very, very frustrating.
     
  23. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Last year, I had a very, very low 2nd grade class. In fact, it was the lowest 2nd grade class I had in six years.

    However, I knew that they had oh-so-many holes when they came to me. I accepted the fact that they were low and worked with what I was given.

    I could've easily blamed the 1st grade teachers, but they could've blamed the kindergarten teachers, and the kindergarten teachers could've blamed the parents. It's a vicious cycle.

    Even though I had a classroom full of 25 low kids, many of them made huge gains and I feel proud of how much they learned.

    NOTE: If the principal is aware that the 1st grade teachers didn't do their jobs, though, something needs to be done! I completely agree with JustMe!
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    My response was not necessarily that we SHOULD blame anyone, but rather that these parents are being perceived as "difficult" parents and if we try to understand where they are coming from, it may help in knowing how to work with them or at least be able to temper our reactions based on this understanding. The parents lost trust in the school. It's important to understand their perspective. Their actions may not be productive but it is coming from a real place.

    I'm not questioning that the students need to be looking for solutions to help the students where they are and finding interventions and supports.
     
  25. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jenn,

    I agree and disagree with you. First of all I completely agree with what you are doing in the classroom. You sound like a great and probably a truly outstanding teacher. Keep challenging the children. You may want to emphasize the progress that the children are making and how together (you and the parents) can really give them a great year. Explain that giving them easier work will just make them less prepared for 3rd grade. Parents think that grades are much more objective than they actually are. If they get a worse grade in 2nd grade, they just naturally believe they are doing worse. You have to explain the positive that Johnny is making good progress and that 2nd grade just has higher standards.

    I don't like how you are blaming your 1st grade colleagues. If you really believe that holding back every child who is low academically is appropriate, I think you'd be amazed at how holding back children even in First Grade hasn't gotten good results. Also, the final decision to hold back children is the principal's. That is unfair to put all the blame on the First Grade teachers.

    Yes, bravo for being an awesome teacher with high standards. The students are lucky to have you. What happened last year is old news.
     

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