How do I deal with parent complaints about a teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by HistTchr, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    I have gotten numerous complaints (from both students and parents) in this past week about a teacher in my department. They feel that he has unreasonably high expectations, and I have to admit that I agree with them. I am kind of at a loss as to how to respond to the parents, though, because I know their complaints are valid. (His inflexibility has been an issue in the past. I was not an administrator at the beginning of last year, so I never dealt with this before with him.)

    The teacher feels that he needs to give absolutely no structure or support to his students because they are a higher-level class. As a result, students' grades are suffering and he thinks that's fine since they will drop the course. I have already spoken to him about this, given him resources to use, and will now start following-up with classroom observations, since I am not observing any changes. Just today I had to deal with two parent complaints and two student complaints about the class.

    I am scheduling meetings with parents who are considering level changes (per school policy), but I really don't know how to go about discussing this with them. I obviously can't tell them that I am on the teacher's case big time about this, since I don't want to add fuel to the fire. How do I approach the whole conversation then? Do I focus on what the students have done to advocate for themselves/seek extra help? That has been my approach when I have met with students one-on-one. The teacher will be in the meetings along with the guidance counselor and me.

    Any advice is appreciated!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 25, 2013

    The parents should be told to fist direct their concerns to the teacher. Going to a supervisor or administrator without first having a conversation with the teacher is a problem. Parents get the idea that they can just 'go to the top' whenever they have an issue instead of dealing with it head on.
     
  4. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    Good point. I should have mentioned that the parents have been in contact with the teacher about this issue. He is encouraging the students to drop the class, which has prompted them to go "higher up".
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That's a problem. Instead of helping HIS student find success in his class, he's encouraging them to drop.

    I have a real problem with the whole "this is how it will be in college" or "this is how it is in the real world" kind of teaching. The reality is that those kids, advanced or not, are NOT in college - or the "real world" (whatever that is) yet.

    Why not talk this one over with your AP before the meeting? I bet this is an ongoing issue for this teacher, and I'm guessing the AP has dealt with it in the past. He or she may be able to fill you in on the backstory.
     
  6. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    Thanks. You stole the words right out of my mouth! When I told him that he should be providing reading/study guides as students learn the material, he said that it would be "babying" them. I told him that the strategies he uses in class should support the assessment, and that these students need a lot of structure. I have discussed this briefly with the principal, but will follow-up with him before the meeting.
     
  7. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Interesting. Our honors teachers are not permitted to give study guides so he would fit in with them, but we are required to give them in CP.
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I think the best is to deal with the teacher right now. The teacher needs to see that "if you ever want your students to make it to the top of the highest roof, you must provide a ladder." This teacher seems proud of his high expectations. That isn't a bad thing. What he doesn't see is that in the beginning he has to help them a bit to get started on the path to success. This is true for every great teacher I know. If the teacher complains about babying them, point out that this might be necessary at the beginning, but less hand-holding can take place as more success happens.

    I don't like his attitude about telling students to drop his class. Nothing good to say about that one.

    As far as parents go, I agree with czacza. Parents should go directly to the teacher with their concerns first.
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Does this teacher not understand the idea of formative learning and assessments? It sounds like he's trying to cut back on the number of assignments he needs to grade every week.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    First, I do need to say that I admire that you are not looking to throw the teacher under the bus with the parents. Although I don't agree with his methods (at all), I do think the issues need to be addressed between administration and the teacher.

    I struggle with the concept of not providing support for students in order to prepare them for college. My daughter is in college now and there is a tremendous amount of support available to her.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It's funny....look at all the support typically offered to new teachers. And these teachers are hired as adults, as fully educated and prepared professionals.

    Yet this teacher is unwilling to offer support to the teenagers he's charged with educating?
     
  12. marrkede

    marrkede Rookie

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    Hiring of teachers specially young teachers is very critical process.There should be the right person for the right job.Theachers should be highly professionals and equiped with the all the required skills and expertise to eduacte the childrens.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    In normal situations, I agree with going to the teacher first, but there are times when this is far from the right approach. This teacher has a reputation of being inflexible. He most likely made it more than clear that it is his way or the high way. It would be a waste of time and most likely setting a student up for harassment to go to the teacher first. Luckily, there aren't many like this teacher, but those like him make it clear the intermediate step is irrelevant.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    We have a small handful of teachers like this in our HS. They honestly believe that honors classes which are our real equivalent to college prep (and even ap classes because you have HS students learning what is really expected in college courses) are not designed to teach students how to be students anymore. It is solely to see if they can cut it in college or the "real world".

    I still had structure and guidance when needed in college so I'm not sure where this idea came from that you are completely on your own and don't need to be taught as a student.
     
  15. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I know where it comes from - laziness. It is the same reason elementary teachers say it about middle school and why middle school teachers say it about high school. It is much easier to shift the blame onto the students than to provide them with support.
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Heck, I've been out of school for a long time, and I am still able to access support and guidance with new tasks.
     
  17. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    I appreciate all of your comments and agree with all of you 100%. I plan on bringing up some of these points when I discuss the situation with the teacher again. Hopefully I will help him realize that he needs a severe shift in thinking!
     
  18. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Sep 27, 2013

    HistTchr, I've dealt with this before. Can you post some specifics on what this teacher is failing to do or doing? You can feel free to PM me if you want. Is he a newer or older teacher.
     
  19. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Why aren't they allowed to give study guides? The honors kids need them just as much as the CP kids...that is very surprising to me.
     
  20. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Because honors kids are supposed to know how to guide their own studying and follow up using their notes. Not sure if I agree with this or not though ---I don't teach honors anyways. It does seem that the teachers who are in general resistant to providing support and extra help are just given the honors classes to make them happy.

    I'm not sure they actually NEED them. It would make it easier for them, but do they need it to be easier? I know I never got study guides in HS except for midterms and finals. Now I give study guides for every little quiz.
     
  21. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    Why even have a teacher if the students are structuring their own class?
     
  22. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Why aren't they allowed to give study guides? The honors kids need them just as much as the CP kids...that is very surprising to me.


    I sure hope honors kids don't need them anywhere. I never give study guides to my honors kids.
     
  23. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Exactly. Why would we ever want honors kids to take the time to learn more than they need to?

    Oh wait...

    Why the heck wouldn't you give them to honors kids?
     
  24. Math

    Math Cohort

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    I think study guides are quite beneficial. I do not agree with honor students not receiving some type of study guide material. They are students that need to learn through guidance they don't know everything. I am not saying your study guide needs to be an exact replica of the test.
     
  25. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    We're getting off topic. The teacher appears to think that it isn't his job to help the students learn because if they aren't completely self-motivated, they shouldn't be in his class. Is he even functioning as a guide to the side with his students?
     
  26. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    "Babying" the students would be giving them the test questions ahead of time and then going over the answers ahead of time (this was an actual problem last year at my school).

    Giving them a study guide is giving the students an opportunity to search for answer for an area of concentration that is essential to their learning.

    I work at a college-prep school. It's just that -preparing them for college, starting in 6th grade - how to study, how to take notes, how to hold a civil discussion. It's NOT acting like they are in college and expecting that they can already do these things!
     
  27. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    why would I?

    They should be able to read through the notes and other resources and get the information they need.

    I could always give them the test ahead of time too. I choose not to do that either.
     
  28. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    You could choose just to give them the book and chapter and quiz them on it without discussion, notes, or guidance of any kind.

    Do you do that?
     
  29. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Of course not. Don't be silly. Why does my not giving honors students a study guide mean that I don't teach them at all?

    This is truly confusing me. I never got study guides when I was in high school or college. I was always under the impression that they were for the "slower" kids in school.

    I studied my notes for my tests. My students do the same thing.

    Once in a while, if I have a class of really low general ed students, mixed with sped students, I will make a study guide. But never for an honors class.
     
  30. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Are we struggling with different ideas of what constitutes a "study guide"?
     
  31. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    But you said these kids should be able to get the information on their own?
     
  32. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    No, I don't think I said that.
     
  33. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Maybe so.

    In my experience a study guide is a condensed version of the notes, which only includes the information that will definitely be on the test. For example, if I taught about plant and animal cells, but only put animal cells on the test, the study guide would not mention plant cells at all.

    On top of that, the guide is basically a fill-in-the-blank version of the test. "DNA is located in the ________________." (nucleus) The test question would read something like this: "True or False, DNA is located in the ribosome"
     

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