Intimidating mother

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by stephanie90102, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. stephanie90102

    stephanie90102 Rookie

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    Nov 21, 2006

    All right, I need people's opinions. I am a long term sub covering a first grade teacher's maternity leave. I have my B.S.E. in Elementary Education and I am a first year. This mother has a track record of wierd behavior (sending a 6 year old to school with 2 gallons of milk, some strange powder, and a blender to make smoothies for the class, totally unprompted, as well as taking her children on a transcontinental journey beginning in Paris and ending with her trying to cross the border of Afghanistan into Iraq, because of the culture and intrigue. When the troops wouldn't let her into the country because it was too dangerous, HELLO!, she had a hissy fit). The real teacher warned me of her before I started, as well as after I made the DCF referral.

    Two weeks ago, I had to make a DCF referral after a little girl mentioned that her mommy always stopped her daddy when he was beating up her and her sister. I made the referral and continue to cooperate with the state's investigating social worker, who keeps in touch with me and who has asked me for contact numbers for the parents and whatnot.

    The Monday after the referral, the mother demanded that she come and observe me teach. It made me very uncomfortable, but I taught as I always do. We were working on a math worksheet. While she was observing (with her 3 year old daughter in tow), she "wrote" down several pages of notes. The full time aide in the classroom walked by her and saw that the papers were all blank. In total, she had about 3 lines of actual writing. She then TOLD me that she would be there after 3:00 to talk to me. At 3:00 she asked me why I was there, who the real teacher was (whom she has already met), and my age. She kept telling me how young I looked (I'm 21, but look much younger.) I don't see why my age should matter. Then she asked my why I made the referral. I told her that I would have to have the principal in the room when I told them (the father had shown up as well). The principal came down and told them that I was right in making the call and allowed me to explain my reasoning. They laughed it off and basically talked to the principal as though I wasn't even there. They left, and ignored my "Good-Bye's."

    Last Monday, (the 13th), I sent home report card conference time sheets. I assigned times and gave the parents over a week to turn them in. The mother finally turned hers in yesterday, and claimed the time was too early, as her husband wanted to be there. It was a fair enough request, so I gave her the available times, which were limited. She circled one and wrote "tentative" next to it.

    Yesterday I also sent home a "Homework for Parents" sheet, which the real teacher had in her conference folder. It had questions for parents to answer about how their child reacted to school and what concerns they had. Her only concern was, " No concerns, just a little uncomfortable because the substitute keeps telling the kids to smile." I don't know if anyone else does this, but when we are doing a worksheet as a class, I always asked the students to show me a smile when they are ready to move on to the next problem. This keeps mouths from moving and provides me with a clear view of who is ready and who needs a little more time. During my student teaching, I was told it was a wonderful method of classroom management.

    This mother really is beginning to intimidate me. I have talked to the veteran first grade teacher next door, who has told me that these are clearly intimidation techniques. I feel really uncomfortable knowing that I will be conferencing with this woman. She seems to have little faith in my abilities and was always talking down to me. I know she doesn't approve of how young I look, but I have the credentials to show that I am a certified teacher in two states.

    My main questions are:
    Why does she continue to intimidate me? How can I stop it? Does anyone have any advice for me? How should I handle myself if she tries to talk down to me or intimdate me during the "tentative" conference?

    I would appreciate all the help I could get! Thanks for reading this novel!

    Stephanie :confused:
     
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  3. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Yikes!! First of all, it sounds like you're doing an awesome job. I know I would sweat having this strange parent in my classroom. I am also young looking, I am 24 but look like I should be in the 8th grade. Anyways, don't let that bother you at all. As long as you behave in a manner that excudes confidence, you will be fine. About the intimidation, I'll admit, people who are older and/or have more teaching knowledge do intimidate me, but I don't show it. I'll accept their ideas and opinions, then I'll share mine. So, when you go into the parent teacher conference, make sure you are prepared, you have all of your paper work in an orderly fashion, write down what you want to talk about (I have a conference sheet that I got somewhere off of the internet. You write down the student's strentgh, weakness, needs to address, comments by the parent, parent and teacher signs this form, and a copy is sent home. If you can't find this on the internet, it shouldn't be too hard to make. This will keep you guys on task and it'll keep the conference organized.) I think this should help you when you go into the conference.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    By the way, having the kids smile is a cute idea! I usually just have them fold their hands when they are ready to move on, but I like that idea.
     
  5. Research_Parent

    Research_Parent Cohort

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    Nov 21, 2006

    My advice...

    1) Follow your own agenda for the meeting and allow her to ask questions, which I'm sure you can answer.

    2) If your age becomes an issue, just casually mention it helps you relate better to the students, that way the students don't think its coming from someone like their parents. (This is what I usually tell my college students.)

    3) If she's really concerned about the smiling, (which is nice, but makes people who have no reason to be happy nervous) tell her its to keep students showing how happy they are to have an assignment finished.

    4) If you're totally nervous about meeting in person alone, you can always ask the principal, aide, or another teacher to sit in as well.

    Just my advice...but I don't usually have to deal with the parents, (I am the parent). I deal with college students.
     
  6. herins

    herins Companion

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    Nov 22, 2006

    It sounds as though your principal is supportive, so I would ask him/her to be there during the interview. I had a parent last year that was similar, and the principal decided that I was never to meet with her alone. Often it was the principal, vp, me and sometimes the counsellor with her. I would strongly encourage you to ask, especially if both parents will be there.

    Good luck! Teaching would be sooo much easier if we could just worry about the children and not their parents!
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 22, 2006

    It sounds as though there may be some mental health issues. I would be sure that there was someone else (administration) present at all meetings.
     
  8. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Good advice! In addition to having someone (principal, etc.) attend the meeting you might want to use a recorder. This parent clearly has some mental problems.

    Major Hunt :)
     
  9. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I don't have any "real" advice yet (ST January), but I wanted to say that you sound competent and you should feel confident in your abilities. I agree with having the principal there, but I would hesitate to record the conference - it's one more thing that could set her off. Best of luck...
     
  10. kburen

    kburen Cohort

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    Nov 22, 2006

    Yikes! I'm sorry to hear that you have to go through all of that. I had a parent not nearly as bad as that, but similar to them last year. I ended up having to do what was suggested by a few people already....Always have someone else in the meetings with me....Principal or another teacher who was there to help me. I understand that you're going through with the young looking part....I am 23 and get mistaken for my students (5th grade) nearly every Friday on jeans and a "spirit-wear" teeshirt day and I even have been mistaken for my kids on a regular day! I've eventually learned not to take it to heart and just say that if I look this young now, when I'm 40 I'll still look in my 20's ;) Good luck! *hugs*
     
  11. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Nov 22, 2006

    I would definitely not meet with either of them without the principal. I would also have the principal tell her that there will be no more "observations". It sounds like she really has some issues. You've done a good job of handling it.
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 22, 2006

    Stephanie, you sound like a wonderful, mature teacher. The parent sounds completely wacky. I'm not as patient as you are, I guess, because when I had a really wacky parent, I refused to meet with her at all. The admin supported me in this because nothing positive was able to come out of meeting with her. The assistant principal agreed to do so.

    At the least, you should have someone else present if you have to meet with her. Don't change a thing you are doing, be confident, polite but distant, don't engage with her, don't expect her to change, start with a simple statement of affirmation or praise for her child.

    Let us know how it goes.
     
  13. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I would be more afraid for her children than anything else. She is clearly not well. You are doing great. Don't let a this woman be intimidating, she is not well.
     
  14. Erin Elizabeth

    Erin Elizabeth Groupie

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    I agree with everyone else. I also have a parent this year who has a track record of bullying younger teachers, so I was really nervous about conferencing. The only thing I could do was to act professional and stand my ground when she questioned me. It actually turned out to be a quite pleasant meeting (I was shocked - and grateful)!

    As far as your situation goes, have faith in your abilities as a professional. Like you said, you have certification in 2 states, no small feat. Your age has nothing to do with your skills as a teacher. Please arrange to have someone else present during your conference. In my district, it's written into our contracts that we have the right to have an administrator or counselor present for difficult conferences. You may want to check on that. But it sounds as if your principal is supportive so I would talk to him/her first. Good luck!!!
     
  15. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

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    Nov 22, 2006

    I too look extremely young for my age... NOT! heee! Sorry, I couldn't resist. :) Anyway - I have a similar (although not as severe) situation in my room... I copy the principal on ANY email/notes/notes from phone conversations with the mother. Anything she sends me or I send her, I make sure to copy to my principal. I've told my principal I do NOT trust this mother one bit, and I want to make sure she is aware of all communication both ways. I'm a male teacher, which I feel throws another element into the mix. Just continue to be as professional as you can be with the parent, and KNOW you are being the rational adult - not her. Age truly is a number - who CARES how old you are or look - if you are treating her with respect, what else can you do? I know it's frustrating, but you just have to have confidence in your teaching abilities and know you are providing her child with more stability than he/she is getting at home. Good luck! :D
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I've always wanted to say that I too look extremely young for my age. There. I've said it. However false.
     
  17. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

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    HA! Upsadaisy... me too! I actually do look younger than I am. I'm 33, and most people think I'm about 25ish. At least that's what I'm told. I think all the ladies just aren't used to seeing a man in my primary school, and they're thrown. :p
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Or else you really do look young. My son (23) was complaining today that he still gets carded. I don't think he looks young, but he does. So now you know that I'm REALLY not young! LOL
     
  19. MissWilliams

    MissWilliams Rookie

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    I agree with everyone's advice to have another person present. :)

    For many reasons. It could be preventative, and help you to complete the conference agenda (be on track). I agree that there are clearly some stability issues with this parent, too.

    Good luck with it, and let us know!:D
     
  20. grade2rocks

    grade2rocks Rookie

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    I agree with ideas given -hang in there, you're doing fine.However:
    1.Absolutely, document, document, document any contact you have with this family. Save notes, sending copies to principal, saving e-mails, keep a written log of phone contact. This parent is not behaving rationally - you may need to protect yourself at some point.
    2. I absolutely would not hold a conference with this family without the principal present. Believe me, after reporting a family for suspected abuse, they more than likely have a hidden agenda to try to dis-credit you.
    3. If you continue to feel uncomfortable about the contact/ behavior of this parent, perhaps your union would have suggestions.
     
  21. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    You seem young. Thanks for the compliment. I worked hard to get through teaching school but I'm glad the wear and tear doesn't show. ;)
     
  22. Maithal

    Maithal Cohort

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    Hi Stephanie!
    I've sent you a Private Message/PM. Hope to hear from you soon!
     
  23. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    I absolutely agree with everyone above! Have an administrator present. If there's ever a matter of he-said/she-said, you'll have someone who was there to support your side.
     
  24. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    If all else fails while dealing with her rantings, think of all the people on here who think she's got a few screws loose!
     
  25. meowmommie

    meowmommie New Member

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    I would so not worry about her. You did the right thing. If she is abusing those kids I would be glad to turn her in, who is gonna protect the children if not the community?
     
  26. grade1teacher

    grade1teacher Companion

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    I guess this is a side point, but I'm curious: When making a referal to DCFS, arent these confidential? Does the family need to know who reported?
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2006
  27. Research_Parent

    Research_Parent Cohort

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    The actual report at DCFS SHOULD be confidential in most states, but the report within the public school district is not.
     
  28. grade1teacher

    grade1teacher Companion

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    Thank you for the clarification, Research Parent.
    Strange that a teacher should not be protected while trying to protect the district's students though, isn't it?
     
  29. Research_Parent

    Research_Parent Cohort

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    Its extremely distressing...
    (one of the major pitfalls of public disclosure laws)

    Of course, the teacher can make the report his/herself directly to DCFS and then it will be confidential.
     

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