# How would you have handled this tactfully?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Backroads, Mar 4, 2015.

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Mar 4, 2015

This did not happen to me, but to another parent in my grade level and I happened to be a witness to the mother screaming at the principal.

Kiddo flunked his multiplication test. Mom freaked out and said Teacher was teaching multiplication wrong. Kiddo is confused because he is being taught one way at school and another way at home, with Mom saying school is wrong.

Um... apparently Mom is teaching Kiddo that multiplication and addition are the same thing. Such as 7x2=9.

Mom became angry when Teacher tried to explain the difference. So Mom took it to the principal and Principal just looked flummoxed.

If Mom is so sure her mathematics are correct, how do you explain it's... not?

3. ### justwanttoteachCohort

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Mar 4, 2015

I would smile and say its parent like you who make me feel as if I have job security...lol jk no seriously I dunno

4. ### a2zVirtuoso

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Mar 4, 2015

That is tough one! Seems that someone taught the student's mother that multiplication is repeated addition and she just held on to the addition part.

I would first try to get the parent to a location where others can't see for a meeting. I would ask if I could show her how we teach both addition and multiplication (using repeated addition). I would also let her know that she is right that you can add to find the answer but what you add is different in multiplication and addition. I would also keep letting her know it is common confusion for a lot of people so she doesn't have to feel so embarrassed if she ever figures out she really is incorrect. I might even talk about that common confusion as the lead in to the meeting.

While I don't know from your post what the student's mother is confusing, I could see her confusing repeated addition process to determine the answer to a multiplication problem with straight addition.

5. ### 2ndTimeAroundPhenom

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Mar 4, 2015

I'd hand the mother a multiplication table and leave it at that. It is neither my job to teach adults nor my job to pacify parents that yell at principals.

If a parent was genuinely confused and reasonable I wouldn't mind sharing my knowledge. But not someone that acts poorly towards school staff.

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I'm not sure what she's confusing, either. Teacher mentioned afterwards she had attempted to show how the multiplication was done, but Mom simply insisted she should be adding. The quote I heard was "multiplication is just another term for addition." So I'm not sure where the confusion to that came in.

7. ### a2zVirtuoso

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Mar 4, 2015

It was probably something that she didn't learn correctly and stems from someone teaching multiplication as repeated addition and saying that multiplication is just another term for addition over and over again. (Not true, but it was taught that way for a while. still is in some places.)

8. ### Go Blue!Connoisseur

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Mar 4, 2015

Tell her that since she knows best, she should home school her child - save everyone the grief ...

9. ### swansong1Virtuoso

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Mar 4, 2015

I wonder how the P responded?

10. ### teacherintexasMaven

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Mar 4, 2015

Exactly! The principal shouldn't have looked flummoxed (unless the P doesn't understand basic multiplication either!). Hopefully, the P is good at calming irate parents and could get the parent to see reason. If the parent is still mad and goes home to rant about how the school is teaching multiplication wrong, hopefully her friends know the difference.

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Mar 4, 2015

OMG. I would've been like "WHAT?????? 7 x2 does not equal 9, google it!"

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Mar 4, 2015

Pull out a calculator!

13. ### mathmagicEnthusiast

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Mar 4, 2015

Mention that you'll give them \$9 if they give you \$7 two times?

(kidding, naturally...at least somewhat!)

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Mar 4, 2015

THIS!!!!

15. ### futureteach24Companion

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Mar 4, 2015

I completed agree with a2z. I would have had the same response. In that response, you do the following: validate the parent's feelings, have a private conversation, empathize with how they learned it, and explain to them the correct way to solve the problem. All of these are important, because having that parent's respect and support will go a long way in meeting the needs of that student.

16. ### mathmagicEnthusiast

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Mar 4, 2015

For the more serious side of my thoughts - this sums it up better than I could've put it.

17. ### TeacherNYMaven

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Mar 5, 2015

Wow...I hope this is her only child

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Mar 5, 2015

From what I gathered, the principal (who, yeah, probably could have handled her expression better), had the Mom use manipulatives to show her multiplication (she added). Then Principal used the same manipulatives to show her multiplication.

Apparently Mom knew that as "grouping".

I guess everyone is more or less on the same page.

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Mar 5, 2015

Hard for me to think about this. When I went to elementary school we learned the "times tables" (up to the 12s) by MEMORY, and neve heard of a number chart or any of the teaching items used today. And I know FOR SURE that NONE of the kids in my school EVER did math by counting on their fingers in class! It is a mamtter of total amazement to me that students today seem unable to multiply in their heads!

Yet I see kids doing this all the time, and I see lots of kids that do NOT know how to multiply in their heads. So, I am not sure if there is a way to deal with this.

One thing I DO know is that I feel sorry for the parent. I remember when my daughter was in elementary school, and she would be doing homework and needed help. I could DO the math, but not the way she was being TAUGHT, and although I got the correct answers it would not have been acceptable if she tried to turn in the work using my method! I was VERY frustrated. (fortunately it worked out and she graduated college! LOL)

But if this parent is confused about multiplication being "repeat" addition and not grasping the "repeat" part of it, I just feel sorry for her. At least she is interacting with the school (even if in a very wrong way). A LOT of parents never even bother to darken the doors of the schools!