How would you respond to this parent email?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by workingwithkids, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. workingwithkids

    workingwithkids Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2016

    Hi,
    My district just finished its first week of school. I am teaching 6th grade RELA and am required to put in 2 grades each week (including the 1st week). I selected 2 assignments (a timeline that students had to select 5 good events, 5 not so good events, and 3 plans for the future) and a student interest survey. Both assignments were turned in yesterday and I stayed 3 hours after school last night to grade everything. I graded easily on the timeline ( needed the 13 events, needed a picture for each one, pictures needed to be colored, a description for each one, a decorated cover (we did these on file folders) and the events needed to be in chronological order.
    Once grades are entered into our online grade book, parents are able to see the grades online.

    This morning I received an email from a mom who could not understand how her student could have possibly gotten anything less than 100% on his timeline and wanted me to raise his grade from a 90 to a 100.
    All of the timelines are at school so I am not able to look at the timeline to see where he lost points until Monday morning.

    How should I respond to this parent concerning his grade. Should I say something like he lost points because of (reason)?

    Thanks
     
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  3. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Aug 27, 2016

    I think explaining your criteria for the assignment and what was missing from this student's timeline should suffice.
     
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  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Also, respond to the email on Monday. You don't want to set a precedent this early in the year that you are available to respond to parent inquiries on weekends.
     
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  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 27, 2016

    Definitely wait until Monday to respond.

    Keep your email short and sweet.

    "Good morning,

    For this assignment, students were required in part to include pictures for each of the 13 events given on their timeline. Little Billy included only 10 pictures. His score was adjusted according to the grading rubric.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at superteacher@school.edu."
     
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  6. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    YES! +1000! Keep it very matter of fact and on point. I've been in trouble with emails because I don't necessarily respond in the BEST ways. I'm working on that.
    :D
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    If I'm not sure about the tone of an email I'm going to send, I have a couple of colleagues read it first.
     
  8. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Yes and I'm working on NOT responding immediately or in the moment if it has the potential to be a heated response. I just have to remind myself to walk away.
     
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  9. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    I have a hot, aggressive NY attitude!
    :D:rofl:
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I need to be careful that my "snark" doesn't come out inadvertently!
     
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  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 27, 2016

    You may want to put a little red flag beside this parent's name in the back of your mind. If she is emailing you on the weekend to question grades on something done the first week of school, she may be high maintenance. If this starts to become a habit, be sure to talk to admin about how they would like you to deal with it.
     
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  12. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I would respond slowly, very slowly. Then you can do what all of these other smart people suggested. Don't you kind of miss the days when things could truly get lost in the mail?

    This one parent, who apparently thinks you live at the school, is the single best reason I could give for making sure that parents of my students never get my cell phone number.
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree that it's a good idea to keep an eye on this parent. I don't necessarily agree that the parent is expecting an immediate response. I sometimes send emails to businesses or wherever during off-hours, and it's generally because that's when I can get to it or when I think about it. I know that my email will be sitting in someone's inbox for a few days and that's fine--they will handle it when they show up to work the next day. Hopefully that's what the mom here is thinking. Of course, it may be that the mom is completely unreasonable in her expectations of the teacher's availability. I'd start with giving her the benefit of the doubt at least for now and then go from there.
     
  14. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    Aug 27, 2016

    Or it could be that she just needed to write the email before she forgot. I email my kids' teachers over the weekend because if I don't email right away then it likely won't get done. I don't expect a response on weekends. I wouldn't crucify her for sending an email over the weekend.

    What she's asking the teacher to do on the other hand, yeah, she'd likely earn a red flag. It's too bad she's not empowering her child to politely ask the teacher about the grade if the child is confused AFTER the child has received the rubric back.
     
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  15. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Yes! The best advice I ever received from one of my principals was to "always stick to the facts." Any time I was nervous about contacting a parent she always reminded me to simply communicate the facts and keep my opinions and emotions out of it. This advice has served me well. I would send a short, sweet email simply stating the facts.
     
  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I send emails that I don't expect responses to over the weekend, late at night, etc. However, I never forget to make a point of saying that the reply should be at their convenience, since I realize my hours to send are simply on my time schedule, not theirs. I am pretty sure that I wouldn't send an email over the weekend requesting a grade change. I might ask to speak about the project this coming week, meaning that I would be interested in what the teacher has to say. This doesn't seem to be that kind of open-minded email, however, IMO.
     
  17. workingwithkids

    workingwithkids Rookie

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    So I checked my email a few minutes ago (another teacher and I are creating a powerpoint together and emailing back and forth). I noticed that I got another email from this mom wondering why I had not responded back and that if the point deduction was valid that she wants her son to get his timeline back on Monday and be able to fix the areas he lost points on and get his full credit back. I think it is going to be a long year with this mom.
     
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  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Aug 27, 2016

    Blind carbon copy of everything you write to her directly to your supervisor. Talk to your supervisor before sending a reply. Protect yourself.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  19. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Definitely do not respond until your planning on Monday. I wouldn't even respond before school.

    If your school handbook doesn't specify that every assignment can be redone for more credit, mom is going to have a long year!
     
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  20. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Aug 29, 2016

    Great advice already shared :) I would add that the parent might just be testing out the waters and seeing what kind of responsive teacher you are. I would suggest that along with sharing your criteria for the assignment/how you graded it and what the child actually did to meet the criteria, I would also provide a summary of how you're willing to help on future assignments - 1) please remind your child to carefully review the assignment sheet/rubric to check off that they have met the criteria, 2) I'm available at these times (or through email) if your child has a question about the assignment prior to the due date. Parents have sent me back positive comments knowing that I'm there to support their child as they complete the assignment without actually doing the work for them :)
     
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  21. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    Aug 29, 2016

    Since this parent apparently did expect you to respond over the weekend, I would also consider just adding a (short and sweet) note about weekend availability.
     
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  22. ~mrs.m~

    ~mrs.m~ Comrade

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    Aug 29, 2016

    Do you have a redo policy on assignments? If so, you can refer to that. Our grading policy allowed for a redo on any assignment, quiz, or test for up to 80% if it was done within one week. No one expected to redo up to a 100% after being informed about this. That is very pushy, indeed, to email you twice about that.
     
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  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Truthfully these first assignments seem like easy As. It's obviously going to get more difficult as the year progresses. I'd communicate that to the parent.
     
  24. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Perhaps include in there something about wondering why they expected their child to get 100%, or something that allows them to feel heard, as well. I agree 100% with the other comments - so don't take this as me saying that you should give in - but I always try to keep the dialogue open a bit. Some parents that others may have had difficulties with, I've connected wonderfully with just because of hearing their side, even if it might not be completely accurate. Maybe even see what the child thinks, after explaining why they got 90% with your rubric.

    (this isn't worded as well as I'd like, and perhaps isn't 100% completely applicable, but I think is important...I try to always assume the best)
     
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  25. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    OP, how did it go?
     
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  26. workingwithkids

    workingwithkids Rookie

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    Thanks for the wonderful advice. On Monday, when I got to school I was greeted by the principal (someone on the admin team greets us every morning) and he asked if I had received any interesting emails from any of my student's parents. He said that he had received 2 emails regarding the same child's grade in my class and that he emailed mom and told her that his teachers work extremely hard M-F and I would respond during my conference on Monday. He told me that he also advised mom that the year would only get harder as it went on. I spoke with the student and explained why he lost points (he really didn't seem to care) and emailed mom with the reasons he lost point and the timeframe that we respond to emails. I sent the email Monday afternoon and have not heard anything else from mom.
     
  27. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Kudos to your P who did the right thing. That parent has now been put on notice that they were inappropriate. Hopefully, she can drive her helicopter somewhere else for the rest of the year.
     
  28. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Good for your P! He has sent a strong message to the parent community and shown respect for the job his teachers do every day.
     
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  29. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    Yay for supportive administrators. They really are the best. Glad everything worked out.
     
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  30. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Just read this saga and hooray for the admin. Sounds like he drew a nice boundary line.
     
  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Your P sounds great!
     
  32. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sounds like the tone has been set. Bumping to make sure things have continued to go smoothly. Did the kid in question turn in a redo of the first assignment or just leave it? Has he learned to read and execute the directions? Has Mom learned to back off?
     
  33. workingwithkids

    workingwithkids Rookie

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    Thanks for the replies. My principal and 3 ap's are amazing. They are very supportive of everything that teachers have to deal with on a day to day basis. My school does not have a redo policy regarding daily work, there is one for tests so the principal left it up for me. I gave all of my students who lost points on their timelines the opportunity to make changes and recoup some of their points back. I then told them that if they were happy with their grade, they could turn it back in and the grade would stay the same. He was one of the first students to return their folder because they were happy with their grade. He told me that mom puts a lot of pressure on him and expects him to be accepted into all the ivy league schools with early acceptance. I emailed mom and told her that he was given the opportunity to earn back some of his points but he opted not to. I haven't heard from her yet but it is a 3 day weekend so she still has time.
     
  34. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    6th grade and already aiming for Ivy League. Wow, helicopter mom.
     
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  35. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sounds like the student has a more realistic life view than the parent. He'd rather ENJOY life.
     
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  36. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I don't have any data to back this up, but the amount of pushback and "helicopter parenting" seems inversely proportional to the intelligence level of said parent. A corollary to this theorem: there appears to be strong negative correlation between parents involvement in a childs' education and the effort/involvement of the actual student.
     
  37. workingwithkids

    workingwithkids Rookie

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    quick update: it has been quiet from this mom until last night. The students were given a "color by number" activity for different parts of speech. There were 16 sentences that had 2 choices (2 different parts of speech) and the students selected the answer and colored the picture according to their answer. Students were given 15 minutes in class and told that they could take it home and bring it back the next day if they hadn't finished. Kid turned in the assignment answered and colored before the end of class. These were graded this weekend (grade was completely and solely based on their selection of part of speech and not coloring). Kid makes an 88 on the assignment. His average drops to a 97 overall. Mom emails me asking if he can write 2 sentences for each one that he got wrong and recoup some of his points back. I asked one of my admins what I should do and he said he could write the sentences and earn half of his points back if I was ok with it. I told him, I didn't want it to be long year so I would give him the opportunity to recoup half the points. I emailed mom back and told her that he could write the sentences and recoup part of the points (her original suggestion) and I told her that he had a 97 and would have 4 grades this week (3 daily grades and 1 test grade) so not to be concerned with his grade. She replies back this morning that her son had written the sentences but she felt that he should get all of his points back since the students that took it home had the opportunity to have it looked over by their guardians. Since her son wasn't given the opportunity to have her look over it, she didn't think it was fair that her son got punished. I don't want to keep giving in to mom because she seems to complain about anything less than a perfect grade and in my opinion, if I give him the opportunity to recoup some of his points then every student should have the same opportunity. I do not have time to grade things 2 or 3 times each.
     
  38. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    This is ridiculous. I would tell you that you are only going to grade assignments ONE time. This is 6th grade and the student needs to learn to be responsible and not have his mother dispute every point on every assignment. If she asks about the regrading again remind her that you are only grading each assignment one time. If she asks again remind her again. I can't believe she even had the nerve to bother the principal about the first assignment. Why can't these parents let you do your job without adding extra work??
     
  39. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Sep 14, 2016

    Dear Crazy Lady,

    The assignment in question was never intended for parental review before submission and any such review is purely incidental; therefore, fairness in grading has no connection to any mass class parental review or lack thereof. Please opt for either half points' grade increase per school handbook or original grade.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
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  40. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    There you go!!
     
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  41. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    But maybe leave out the crazy lady part.
     
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