How to Handle This...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Soccer Dad, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Last week, I had my students (voluntarily, mind you) write thank you/happy holiday cards to the soldiers. I made it worth extra-credit (one homework pass) and "good karma for the soul." Since I was running this in my classroom with my supplies, I asked my department head for permission. She agreed as long as I didn't make the cards religion-oriented.

    Today, I had a parent come up to school and basically scream at me. This parent emailed me over the weekend and I didn't respond till this morning (when I read it). Well, she stormed up to school when I was teaching, waited till I was done, then met with me on my lunch break (against protocol, by the way). I said I would only feel comfortable doing the meeting with my assistant principal (I could sense she was riled up). The AP I'm "assigned" to was in a conference so I went to a different one.

    Well, in the meeting, I was ripped apart and the AP stood by allowing it. I'm not annoyed with my AP, I knew it'd be that way going in. I'm annoyed in that she demanded I formally apologize to my students, their parents via writing, and return the letters to the students. I have not sent the letters yet.

    Her argument is that her family is against "Bush's war to make the rich richer" and I'm not considering those that don't support the war when I do what I did.

    My administrator said I was wrong by making it worth extra-credit. He's calling for me to do what she told me to do. I, losing my patience at this point, said not before I speak to the principal. Well, that statement went over well... (my principal served in the Persian Gulf War)

    I'm waiting to talk to my principal tomorrow, but I'm at a loss. What on earth should I do? I have over 130 letters and I don't want to give them back just because some mom thought she'd make something nice into a political scene.
     
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  3. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Hmmmm, I have no idea what to say. I've had a few parent meetings that started out that way, but I refused to stay in the room when they attacked. I would excuse myself "until we've all calmed down enough to speak rationally and respectfully", and to "please call me when you're ready". Of course, I've earned more than my share of ire for that, but I refuse to be anybody's punching bag.

    I think you have two complaints, and both need to be addressed with the P. The first, of course, is what to do with the cards. Like you, I feel that a single parent, who's student had the opportunity to not participate, should not dictate policy. Agree with the war or not, those are still human beings over there getting killed and maimed.

    The second complaint, of course, is the AP's refusal to stop the attack. HE should have been the one to end the meeting. His job is not to cower to belligerent parents, but to lead the school fairly and with compassion. He most certainly failed in that.
     
  4. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    First, I'm sorry you had that kind of meeting, that kind of day. Second, you did have permission. Third, it was optional. OPTIONAL, as in "you are not required to do it." Fourth, it is in support of PEOPLE not policies. You are not saying anything political, but humanitarian. Fifth, send the letters. It is a breach of faith with the kids who wrote the 130 letters to rescind it. Period. Your credibility with them would be damaged. Sixth, anger management recommended for parent. Seventh, you can always offer a different extra credit assignment to her child. How about writing an essay on resolving conflict peacefully, without anger? Or perhaps an essay on the freedoms afforded citizens who live in the United States? Or perhaps an essay on kindness to those in need of encouragement?
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I would make sure to let your principal know that 130 students wrote letters. If you decide to listen to this mother and not send them, what of the 130 parents of the students who did write the letters. Some of them may be a little angry.

    You could always provide the stamps and let them mail them out individually....
     
  6. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Thanks for the input guys. I'm definitely going to mention the perspective of the other 130 parents--I really didn't even consider that.

    I've been disgusted before, like everyone. But today definitely was the worse I've ever felt. Especially since I've been doing this activity for years and haven only received positive feedback.

    I felt unprofessional threatening to go above my AP's head, but I knew I'd loose it trying to reason with him any longer on the subject.

    As for the students who opted out of the assignment (which was no one might I add), they had a crossword extra-credit on the American constitution.
     
  7. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    It would be a cold day in $&@( before I apologized verbally or in writing for having students choose to write letters to service personnel. It just wouldn't happen and if necessary I'd contact Fox News. The publicity would not be flattering. The assignment was optional, not mandatory.

    Second issue. Do not allow a parent to berate or verbally abuse you - administrator or not. I would be very upset that that AP didn't step in and calm things down. You do not have to take that sort if treatment.
     
  8. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    I love the way you think, DallasTeacher....... :hugs:
     
  9. Soccer Dad

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    I feel very, very strongly about supporting our soldiers. I watched my brother get spit on when he returned home from Vietnam, and have felt immensely grateful of soldiers for not only risking their lives but to withstand everything that comes with it.

    I know I'm not going to apologize for trying to do something for our soldiers, but I'm worried that my principal, who I suspect will support me, won't.

    I've been realizing that it's a lot easier lately for administrators to abandon policy and ethics to appease parents.
     
  10. cruiserteacher

    cruiserteacher Comrade

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    How very small minded of this parent. Whether anyone agrees with the war or not, those soldiers are still overseas, away from their families, and working to protect our freedom. The same freedom that gave her the right to come into your school and attack you the way she did. I'm curious as to what part of the US you are in, because every year we do something to support the soldiers overseas (write letters, send supplies, etc.) and we have never encountered a parent who didn't agree with what we were doing. I wonder if it is a regional thing? As far as the situation with your AP, I do not think it is wrong at all for you to go above them to your P. You had permission from your department head, you did nothing wrong.
     
  11. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Soccer Dad, sorry this happened to you. It's hard to imagine "thank you" letters to the warriors who fight to keep this country free..... as being bad.

    Thank you for your efforts.....

    Major......
     
  12. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Wow, that is absolutely awful. Recently my entire school wrote letters to soldiers. We always do something special for veterans day and one part of it was letters to soldiers. I know that some people disagree with the war, but most people understand that the soldiers themselves are doing a very noble thing. The students understand this, and we had them say thank you for their sacrifice and efforts in protecting and serving our country.

    As for that meeting, there is no way in hell I would have stood there and let a parent rip into me like that. I also know that my Principal would never allow something like that to happen. We have been told that if a parent is yelling at us over the phone and they will not calm down, we can simply hang up the phone, we don't have to "take it". If a parent is that upset in a face to face, our principal will handle it, she never lets a parent rip into a teacher like that and if it were to happen, I would not hesitate to walk right out. I will not be talked down to by a parent in that manner.
    Also, the apology she wants, would never happen. Not a chance. Nothing offensive was done, no apology necessary, unless it is from that parent.
     
  13. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    And if your Principal agrees about the apology to make the parent happy, I'm sorry, thats not something I could back down on. I would say that she could write me up instead. I do not do my job to make parents happy and they don't get to tell me how to do my job
     
  14. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oh, I have an evil idea....

    Don't back down. Tell the parent that if she doesn't like it, she can go to the media and tell the whole town what a horrible teacher you are...then sit back and enjoy the show.
     
  15. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    What a miserable human being that woman is. I think we should
    get the H out of the middle east and said before we went but
    the soldiers do not make the policy. I donate to the DAV in support of the disabled vets. No apologies to that miscreant.
     
  16. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Hang in there, I'm sure it'll go in your favor. You had all the necessary options for those not willing.

    That's a great thing, don't let one belligerent parent ruin it.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Your administrator is a weenie. My school not only sends letters and makes care packages for troops, but we also raised over $1000 for the Homes for the Troops program which builds homes for returning disabled troops.
     
  18. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Yes too many admins are not supporting the teachers that work for them at all, under any circumstances. There's just no excuse for that and the division is becoming stronger of it's "everybody versus the teacher."

    Like Dallas Teacher said, it would be a very cold day in hell before I apologized or did any of what they are suggesting. Are you kidding me? This is so ridiculous on too many levels.

    I'm sorry for you and know I wouldn't handle this situation well at all. I can be very vigilant and fiery so I hope you remain calmer than what I would. I'd be ready to (quietly, carefully, and professionally) prepare a case for central office, the superintendents, and lawyers (just in case) because I would not back down, regardless of what the P says.

    Much success to you, but don't back down on this one.
     
  19. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    During a partically rough time at my school, I had a letter of rescignation in my desk drawer. It made me feel better to know I was prepared to shove the job.
     
  20. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Were you able to get a word in edgewise about the alternate extra credit crossword? Wow, either way. It isn't as if you were writing thank-you notes to any current or former presidential administration. Please let us know how your meeting with the principal goes.
     
  21. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Major.... Daughter of retired Navy Commander. I too remember how unfairly Vietnam Vets were treated.

    Wow, I bet that parent would flip out at me. I took students to DFW to say Thanks for serving and wishing them a safe return. We collected new books for the troops to read to their children.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The parent in question is not nearly as liberal or progressive or whatever as she thinks she is.

    Your AP has taught the parent that reprehensible behavior gets the job done. How pathetic.
     
  23. TiffanyL

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    Wow! I would never allow a parent to yell at one of our teachers like that. So sorry that happened to you. I would calmly ask the parent to reschedule the meeting for a time they were feeling calmer and if they refused to do so or to leave, I'd let them know I was calling the school resource officer (they always leave once I state that).

    Not that I like handling it that way but some parents just aren't able to conduct themselves in a civil manner and it sounds like your parent was one of those.

    As to the original complaint, that seems absolutely ridiculous.
     
  24. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    I am sorry that that happened, it is really really heartbreaking to do something like you did, and then to be slammed and insulted for it. :( go mail the cards in the AM before school and then they are out of your hands!! :)
     
  25. Soccer Dad

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    I'm sorry not to reply with names, but I'll try to comment on what I remember.

    I teach on Long Island, NY. What's ironic is that the area where I'm from and teach is actually very, very conservative. We always do fundraisers for the troops and my wife always sends a care package every few months.

    I do plan on mailing the cards tomorrow. I've decided that I much rather have dignity over a hassle-free meeting. Therefore, I'm prepared to fight instead of apologize tomorrow. (And, to ever first mentioned it, I have low patience for this sort of thing, too. I'm sure I'll have to clench my fists.)

    And, I think that using the media would be a great plan of action to whoever suggested it.

    I really hope it goes well!
     
  26. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Love it ...... DT ...... Your students are lucky to have you... Love the Navy......... my wonderful FNL was an enlisted Navy man in WWII.. as a teenager..... Great, great man...... We will spend about a month together in Florida starting in about two weeks. He's very frail. Hope I have him for another few years ... :hugs:
     
  27. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Your story gave me an idea...I have been trying to think of an activity of some sort to give back for our Christmas party (we usually do a recycled gift auction, but I'm getting tired of the same old thing every year). I think letters to troops would be a great last-afternoon-before-break activity...
     
  28. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I agree with the others. I would not back down from the letters and, if that meant getting written up, then I would just have to accept that.

    As for the mom, perhaps you could reach a compromise.

    I would consider sending her an apology. I would tell her how very sorry I am to learn she thinks the world revolves around her and I would hope she is able to get the medical help she needs for the trauma that is certain to result when her bubble finally bursts.

    There, now don't we feel all better? :D
     
  29. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Now there is a letter I would write. Great idea
     
  30. gigi

    gigi Groupie

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    I would mail the letters also, and deal with the fall out later. You did a great thing. If I taught older children I would definitely do this.
     
  31. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Here is a more serious version of the letter I would consider sending this parent.

    Dear Mrs. Uptight,

    Our class wrote letters and holiday cards to members of our American troops serving overseas. The purpose of the assignment was to let these soldiers know that, while they are not home with their family and loved ones this holiday, they are remembered in the hearts, minds and prayers of many people back home. The assignment is designed to thank our sons and daughters for their service to our country and (hopefully) brighten their day a little in the process. It is also designed to help the children in our class realize these soldiers won't get to have a Christmas tree with presents under it or sit down for a wonderful meal with their family and to help them understand the sacrifice being made by these men and women during this holiday season.

    This assignment has been done for several years and was approved by our department head again this year. The letters are intended to support our troops, rather than the conflict itself. It's unfortunate your family doesn't distinguish the difference between these two objectives, because they are separate from one another. Also, this assignment was optional. No child was forced to participate and an alternative assignment was available for those wishing to earn the extra credit without writing a letter or holiday card. ALL of the children chose to write the letters, just as the husbands, wives, sons and daughters serving overseas chose to serve their country and defend the rights and freedoms we have gained from the sacrifice of others like them.

    No other country in the world has the combination of freedoms and rights we do. The right to openly criticize our government and elected officials without fear of retribution is primary among those rights and was gained in this country by those who had the courage to fight for them and others who had the foresight and wisdom to pen those rights into our founding documents.

    Given the tremendous sacrifice made by these young men and women who continue to serve this country and defend those rights granted by the blood of those who came before them, sending a card or letter saying "Thank You" seems the very least we, as a civilized society, can do. However, if you would prefer your child complete a crossword puzzle instead, I will happily comply with your wishes.

    As for recalling the letters, I cannot do that in good conscience. The parents of 359 other children supported this activity and it would be wrong for me to dishonor their decision based on the objection of one, just as it would be wrong for me to dishonor your request that your child be excluded from this activity. It would also be a terrible dishonor to the children who put a great deal of thought, care and love into the messages they wrote and I simply cannot betray the effort they have made.

    Thank you for voicing your concerns and know that we will be thanking the men and women who continue to defend your right to do so on your behalf.
     
  32. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    +1 ^
     
  33. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Great letter, Cerek!

    SoccerDad, hope everything goes well. I'm sorry this happened to you.
     
  34. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Good letter, Cerek!

    SoccerDad~I'm glad to hear that you are not going to back down (I didn't think you would ;)). As a wife of a solider currently deployed, I thank you and your class for this 'extra credit' assignment. It means so much to these men and women to receive anything, just a simple card, from home when they are missing their families during this holiday season. I would have a hard time holding back on this woman, and I am shocked that an AP would let this happen to one of their teachers. I know the P will support you on this. It isn't about the policies and whether or not you agree/disagree with the war, but about the people, the men and women who put their life on the line every day that deserve this little comfort from home. Thank you again.
     
  35. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I remember being in 4th grade when the Gulf War roke out. As a class assignment, we wrote letters to teh troops, and even sent pictures. Ironically, we got extra credit for every letter we RECEIVED, not ones we sent. My letter got lots of replies... evidently some of the units posted the letters and photos on their bulletin boards (that was back in the "any soldier" days) for anyone to reply to... I had a penpal for several years.

    I don't remember anyone having problems with it...

    I'm really sorry that your admin isn't backing you up on this. I'm also sorry that that parent hasn't learned a more appropriate way to channel his feelings.
     
  36. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Cerek, I love both apologies. Nice!
     
  37. sweetlatina23

    sweetlatina23 Cohort

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    Cerek I love your letter!

    SoccerDad,

    What you did for the soldiers is amazing! Even if you are not allowed to send them out, I pray that these soldiers know they are thought of. THese kids really write from the bottom of their heart, I can't imagine how they would feel to not be able to send out their letter. LEt us know what happens.
     
  38. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    How did it go today Soccer Dad?
     
  39. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I've been meaning to say, I don't think I would have went ahead and mailed the letters before telling someone I was going to. Whether or not I agree with the mandates we get, I'm a rule follower at heart, and if I was told directly not to mail them, I would have had a hard time dropping them in the mail box. That's insubordination, whether you like the decision or not.

    I do think I would have sent a letter like the one Cerek posted, and informed my administration of my intention to mail them. If they still refused, then I might have been willing to stage a little protest. I would have suggested admin return the letters to the students, or that I would return them along with directions for how the students could send them.
     
  40. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    I don't want to get in details right now because I'm infuriated.

    It didn't go well. My principal backed me but I was pulled from my classes to deal with this garbage all day. And, I wasn't allowed to change my plans for them (my world history classes were writing their first persuasive essay) so now they had a sub instead of me there helping them.
     
  41. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Don't you just hate it that when you have the discernment to do what is right, Your penalty is dealing from the fallout of someone who lacks the discernment to be polite, informed or tolerant. Like the others here, I strongly believe that we should be teaching our children, whether young or old, that freedom comes at a high price. Additionally, I strongly believe that we should support ALL segments of people who serve their community as they are usually woefully underpaid and they are unusually motivated toward service despite the low income in a way most of us are not. (ie, soldiers, police officers, TEACHERS etc)

    Soccer Dad, hats off to you! I salute you in your stand for doing the right thing. I hope you let nothing deter you from your tradition of service. While I have no ties to the military, I thank each of you on the forum who do have those ties. It is a family sacrifice when one member is serving in the armed forces. Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, as you wish. Thank you.
     

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