Do I have a right to walk out of a conference?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by PEteacher07, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    Do I have a right to walk out of a conference? (the result is posted)

    I am having a parent-teacher-principal conference tomorrow and I am not working forward to it at all.

    The short story is their child is poorly behaved but they are always blaming teachers for singling him out when he in fact singles himself out with his behavior.

    He is a kindergarten student and he is in my class of 80 students and get's in trouble for putting his hands on others constantly. Pushing mainly. He was in my PreK class last year and his behavior was much worse in the class of 20 kids.

    If a child is not keeping their hands or feet to themselves, they sit out for 5 minutes. I am responsible for the safety of every child who walks in my gym and those who are not being safe, receive a consequence. They walked in the other day to take him out of school early and saw their son sitting out and got mad. Apparently they went to my principal to totally blew up about it saying it always happens in PE.

    I pretty much know what I am in for. These parents are going to start berating me. I can already feel it. If my principal doesn't step in and back me up, I will walk out. I may have only taught for 4 years, but I am an adult and I will not be disrespected by some parent who refuses to accept that their child's behavior isn't what it should be. Don't get me wrong, I will handle myself in a professional and calm manor. I refuse to get into a battle of the wills over this, and I won't be verbally abused.
     
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  3. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Dont walk out. Let them vent. Give them all the rope they need to hang themselves and then calmly tell them in detail the behaviors you observe. It may be hard but you will be much better off for it. If you have 80 kindergartners at one time by yourself you are in a mess...........
    If they start berating you I would say "Excuse me, I am an adult with too much responsibility to let one child hit and kick other children because he is misunderstood. You dont have to let someone insult you but leaving is almost an admission of guilt. Keep us up to date.
     
  4. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    I have a teaching assistant. In the past we had 2 full time teachers and an assistant, but the other teacher left and they did not replace him for budget reasons I am sure.

    I have 80 2nd graders, 85 4th graders, and 90+ 1st graders :D

    I am not really for sure how my principal is going to handle this though. I know he is on my side (at least he says so b/c this kid has been in his office MANY times) but, if he isn't supporting me tomorrow, I am not somebody's whipping boy. I will have a conversation with anyone who is willing to act like a mature and calm adult.
     
  5. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Great advice Stephen!
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Yes, you can walk out. What you should do, however, is end the conference if they get overly abusive. A simple, "I can see we're not going to make further progress, and I think we should continue this at another time. Please consider what I've said and we can meet again after you've had time to reflect." If you have a later time or set of times you'll be able to meet, tell them. edit: Since the P is there, you might address the question of whether it's worthwhile continuing to him.

    The berating they can do would come in several types, I would think:

    1) You're being too hard on our son --> I have standards I expect kids to live up to, and for the most part they do.
    2) You're not treating our son as an individual --> I don't think your son is a terrible person just because he's somewhat rebellious/immature (pick word carefully). He needs to learn how to behave, and I believe in time he will.
    3) You're making him behave this way --> I don't think I am, but how would you think I would be doing that? I'd be willing to explore other options.
    4) You're picking on him over the other kids --> Structured discipline programs isn't intended to be "picking on" kids at all; it's meant to teach them how to behave appropriately and safely.

    Try not to ever come across like you're judging their son as a "bad kid" -- even if he is. In fact, if you do think that, try to get it out of your own mind somehow (even if it's true).

    If they come up with a variation of the same accusation (they probably will), respond the same way. You're then teaching the parents that you're consistent, patient, and won't back down. If you can, keep your voice even and steady, as if you don't even notice they're attacking you, and try not to rely on any support from the P. If it comes, great, but I'm sure the P will be impressed if you look like you have absolutely no need of it.

    Good luck.
     
  7. oldfashioned

    oldfashioned Comrade

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    At my school, if we expect a meeting with a parent is going to be contentious or verbally combative, the school team (in this case you and your principal) always meets together prior to the meeting with the parent, just to make sure everyone's on the same page. I would definitely meet with your P to voice your concerns, exactly as you've done here. I think stephenPE is giving you great advice, and I hope all goes well for you!
     
  8. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    I don't want to back down. Not standing up for myself is allowing the parents to think that they can do or say whatever they want to me which isn't the case at all.

    Part of their big beef is what your first point was. I am a strict teacher. I have to be when I have the class sizes that I do. The highly structured environment helps my students to have a safe and fun experience.

    In general, they believe that the whole school has labeled their child as a "bad kid" and I think they are on a rampage b/c of it. He is poorly behaved, but I try to give everyone a fair chance everyday to do something right.

    Also, they have passed judgment on my class even though they have never even observed it once. They came in for about 20 seconds to pick up their kid. They were mad b/c he was being sat out, and were obviously looking for something wrong happening in my class to complain about.
     
  9. rchlkay

    rchlkay Companion

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    I agree with the advice above; as a sp ed teacher I get this stuff all the time. Yes, you do have the right to end the meeting (I've had to do it before; just said that ok, well it appeared we had different views and that we would both need to think and come back because ultimately, we both want what's best for the child.) Sometimes just having the principal in the meeting isn't enough. Contact a union rep if you're worried about repercussions. I've also asked other teachers to sit in on the meeting.
     
  10. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I would talk to the principal beforehand. I remember one time a friend of mine was in the office in a conference like this. She came out of the principal's office and there was all this yelling. Apparently the parent started berating her, and the principal said, "Excuse for a moment. Mrs. Smith, please step out." And then we heard him through the door yelling at the parent, that she had no write to disrespect his teachers and if she could not act civilly through the meeting, then she could leave!

    I thought it was great. I knew he would always have my back after that.
     
  11. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    The parent conflict is an issue, but I see a FAR BIGGER question....

    ......What the HECK is going at your school????


    Texas has a state mandated, maximum pupil to teacher ratio of 22 to 1 for grades K-4. You're in the area of 4 times that level in all of your classes. How can 1 teacher and a TA reach 80+ students at any grade level other than college?

    http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/research/pdfs/prr2.pdf (See Page 9)
     
  12. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    Apr 3, 2009

    The other week I had a conference with a parent who told me that her daughter said that she did not tease the classmate and she believes her daughter. I explained to her that my assistant was standing right there and heard her teasing the child. She said that she still believed her child and I told her "it was her right to believe what she wants and my right to believe what my assistant said. I don't tolerate much in my class and my students and parents are aware of this." I will not let a child dictate or a parent what goes on in my class. She asked her daughter to come in to join us and I got her. The girl began to cry to which she asks her, "are you crying because she said that you did something that you didn't do?" Mom then tells me that if she had done it then she wouldn't cry and I told her that some students cry when they get caught. That was the end of the discussion. Her apple was moved and I did not retract that I believed that she did it and she still believes that her daughter did not do it.

    You have a right to conduct your class in a manner that works for you. If the parent becomes irate and you feel that it is best for you to leave, do it in a professional manner. You can simply state because matters have gotten out of hand I am going to leave and when you are ready to discuss this situation in a calm manner I will be available. I would also speak with my P prior to the conference.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Talk to an administrator ahead of time, and get his or her OK to walk out if it gets ugly.

    That way, when the parents call, outraged at your behavior, the administration is already in the loop.
     
  14. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    I wouldn't walk out.

    I also think you are jumping to conclusions a little. Discuss this with the principal giving him/her background on the student and the behavior. Tell him what direction you are concerned the conversation may take. Make sure you have quantifiable data as in "I had to redirect Johnny 4 times within 3 minutes to keep his hands and feet to himself."
     
  15. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    I hope your P backs you up! I agree with staying in the room, but politely standing up for yourself. Play it by ear and see if the P goes to bat for you; maybe you won't have to do the asserting! Let us know how it goes! Saying a little prayer!
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    A bigger problem than this single child is you and one assistant teaching PE to a group of 80+ young children. Although I'm sure you make it work, those are not ideal teaching and learning conditions. Do you have a oversized gym? That just seems ridiculous.

    Good luck with the meeting. I would certainly talk to the principal first if you haven't already.
     
  17. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    80 five years olds and one assistant is criminal. I just hate how they dump on PE teachers now days. I have colleagues that have the same nonsense going on. Basically, you end up babysitting a HUGE class for long periods of time. Talking to the P ahead of time is a great idea. Lots of good advice here. GOOD LUCK..........
    if you were a day care with those numbers they would shut you down. WIth all the budget cuts some kid is gonna get hurt in these idiotic situations and they are gonna point at us.
     
  18. Loves the beach

    Loves the beach Companion

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    What would we all give to have principals like that!
     
  19. Historygeek

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    I wouldn't walk out, but I also wouldn't allow ANYONE to verbally abuse me. You are right you are an adult not a child and if they become verbally abusive I would stand my ground and end the conference. I would also talk with the P beforehand. Good luck, you're in my prayers.

    Seems if they can be verbally agressive with teachers and P then why can't they discipline their child?!
     
  20. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    On topic..... I'm knew, but I've heard many GREAT stories of principles stepping up to the plate in matters like this one. Talking to the P ahead of time is the way to go. If you think the parent may get exceptionally berate, you may want to ask the SRO be hanging near his office during the meeting. (One of my peers did that a month ago and officer had to step in to escort the parent off campus.


    Off Topic....Do we not have laws concerning PtoT ratios for PE classes? How do you manage take an accurate role with that many rug rats?
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So how did the meeting go?
     
  22. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    Hey guys, it has been a few days since the meeting so I wanted to let you know how it went. Thanks for all the responses!

    The first question out of the mother's mouth who was clearly angry and emotional was "How come he is afraid to walk past you in the morning and tells us that he is scared of you and that you don't like him?" My response was (This really did happen!) "I don't know, he just waved hello to me in the lunch room 5 minutes before this meeting started." Personally, I think he acts scared around me when his parents are there with him. He plays them like a fiddle....

    They felt like he was being picked on, but upon looking at his discipline folder, he had 5 folder signatures for the ENTIRE school year. Some students get that many in a month. They also said he was "always" being sat out in PE which isn't true. He maybe sits out one time every couple of weeks b/c he is constantly putting his hands on other kids. In fact, they feel the whole school has labeled him as a bad child and had the district behavior specialist come and observe and she confirmed that he is getting in trouble b/c he is making those choices and the teachers are indeed NOT picking on him.

    His parents response for him putting his hands on others is that he is just playing around and isn't trying to be mean. My principal made an excellent point in that the horseplay in kindergarten might not be a big deal, but that we are thinking long term here. Once their son get's older, this "horse play" can and will become an issue b/c of how strong the kids get. They kept saying "he is a boy and little boys do that." I can see that point and if that behavior is acceptable at their home, that is fine b/c they are responsible for their child. When he is at school his teachers are responsible for his safety and everyone else's safety. They were totally setting a double standard by saying that b/c they agreed that if he is playing too rough that he needs to be sat out. That is a mixed message to send to your kid. If it's acceptable at home and not at school, than they need to teach him that.

    They admitted that their kid is hard to handle and that he is different from his older sister who I taught for two years and was polite and well behaved. I think his 2 sisters are considerably older than him and since he is the only boy and much younger, I think he pretty much runs their household.
    ________________________________________________________

    The district is continuing to cut down on PE teachers and assistants. Last year we had 2 teachers and an assistant and when one teacher left, the district did not replace him. If he hadn't left, our assistant would have been moved to a classroom so we were down to 2 adults regardless. Several of our PE teachers are now teaching by themselves. Their class sizes might not be the same as mine, but that is unsafe. There is no one there to immediately help if a child is hurt or the teacher needs assistance.

    As far as running my classes, have a gym that is larger than some of the other elementary gyms in our district, but it seems pretty small with the 90+ first graders that I have. We have our routines so that helps the class stay in order. We do a lot of partner or group work where only one child from a pair of group of three participates at once and when they get out, the next kid goes in. That helps b/c it means that only 30-40 kids are participating at once which cuts down on accidents.

    My assistant and I take turns as the "bathroom person" so each grade level asks their assigned coach so only one boy and one girl goes at a time b/c we all know that nothing good goes on in a bathroom when there are multiple kids in there.

    We do have an autistic program at our school and we have an additional assistant come with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade and they can help sometimes, but their main objective is to watch their child to make sure they are participating appropriately.

    I know we have way more kids than we should, but I don't mind and we make it work. My students get to come to my gym everyday for PE while other schools have only 2-3 days a week. With the state of overweight/obesity in our country, my kids are VERY fit. Most of my overweight kids pass our yearly fitness testing with flying colors and I think it's due to the 225 minutes of intense activity they get a week. :thumb:
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I am SO GLAD that you stayed and that you were well supported through the conference. It also sounds like you have begun to get the message through to this set of parents. Congratulations and much luck getting through the final leg of the school year.
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Your point about "horseplay" hit our neighborhood hard (hopefully) just yesterday. A boy was punching and messing around with my 10 year old son yesterday. It got too rough and my son suddenly blew up and retaliated by kicking the boy in the private area. My son got on his bike to leave the situation and the boy was M-A-D at that point and threw rocks at him resulting in my son falling off his bike and needing someone to come get us for help.

    My son admits that the boy was initially playing around and it just got too rough and he responded impulsively. I asked him if he had at any point told the boy to knock it off or stop. He hadn't.

    So the end result is both families got together (after a chat with about 15 kids in the neighborhood on keeping your hands to yourself and not starting trouble) and told the boys that rough housing was not a good idea since it can potentially get out of hand as it did in this situation. I let my son know that he has to exercise all reasonable escapes (including telling him to stop) before even dreaming of using a self defense plea. Neither boy showed good judgement.

    Can horseplay get out of hand. You bet!
     
  25. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I'm glad it went well for you. It sounds like you were able to hold your own and you had a P that was backing you up. Gotta love a good tag team.
     
  26. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    Someone will always "cross the line" when it comes to horsing around. We have some hot headed kids at our school and just messing around can escalate to something more serious. I think that some kids just don't realize when something is about to go too far until it's too late. That is why I always try to stop that stuff as soon as possible b/c it's my neck on the line if something happens to a student in my gym.

    I think your son definitley learned his lesson in that situation!
     
  27. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Line? There's a line? Shoot, in a household full of boys, I thought that line was imaginary. Horseplay is inevitable, but the fact that the ER physicians and nurses know me by name is somewhat embarrasing :blush:. Even as rough as my boys are, they know there's a difference between home and public. They wouldn't dare play at school (before they were homeschooled) or at the park the way they play at home.

    These parents really need to teach their son the difference. I know it can be done, since my boys learned the lesson. I'm glad to hear the conference went okay.
     
  28. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    The difference between us and them though is that we are teachers and are used to dealing with other people's children. These parents are not teachers and don't come and observe their child in the classroom. His PreK teacher told me that they could never come and observe him in the classroom situation due to their jobs last year. They had never come to observe him in the gym with me and were jumping to conclusions all over the place! Considering all the behavior issues this child has had, you figure coming to observe him would be at the top of their priority list.

    Even my principal said that his son acts a little crazy at home but he doesn't behave that way at school. My response was "His daddy was a teacher at one point and sees it from a teaching perspective!"

    I hope they can re-train him to know the difference between home and school behavior. Teachers are expected to do everything these days, but this is something that we can not do. The parents will have to do it, and I don't think that they will. They are too caught up in thinking that the whole school hates their son....
     
  29. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    See, I also think it's a much larger issue. There's the whole "public vs private behaviors" issue going on. Life is much more casual at home, and as such, rougher, less polite behavior is acceptable. Children are capable of learning "home rules" and "public rules" at a fairly early age. This spills over into not just play time, but table manners (really, you don't have to hold your knife "just so" and put it down between bites at the kitchen table, but you darn well better do it at a fancy restaraunt), speech patterns, posutre, ect. Maybe I'm just wierd, but that's how I see it.
     
  30. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    This child doesn't know the difference b/c his parents haven't taught him. It's so frustrating b/c I can teach a kid to do almost anything in my gym whether it's physical skills, or proper social behavior but I can't teach this and I don't know if the parents ever will.
     
  31. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    You do your best and hope for a miracle. That's all you can do.
     
  32. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    You just worry about teaching him the rules for your gym. The parents teach him the rules for home. Eventually, he realizes there's a difference.
     
  33. Kindergarten31

    Kindergarten31 Cohort

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    I didn't see it mentioned (I might have missed it), but with children that I have difficulty with, when I set up a conference with their parents, I also include the art teacher, music teacher and any other person the child sees regularly. That way the parents will see that is it not me, picking on their child. The child that misbehaves for me, usually misbehaves in other situations and it will often open the parent's eyes that it is not a personality conflict.
     

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