Is this parent overstepping the boundaries?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by BioAngel, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Feb 8, 2012

    I had a student bomb one of my science tests~ and this student always bombs my tests, though they perform well on the homework and during class discussions. Her Mom has decided to start communicating to me (so far I've gotten one letter and one e-mail) about how I should be teaching her child (and the other students) based on one of the math teacher's strategies.

    I let her letter slip by-- she didn't ask me to respond so I didn't want to spend time on it. Then I get this e-mail today and at first I was like "WOW", then it made me laugh, and now I'm slightly getting peeved...

    *A slightly edited version*
    I spoke to the math teacher about the email and she says I should share it with my principal because its overstepping the boundaries of what the parent should be telling the teacher.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Mom and I were on good terms since I've had her daughter for a year and half now, but I'm annoyed that she feels the need on how to do my job when most of the class did well on the test and I've been working very hard with the students. (Plus I'm not the "pop a video in" type of teacher to begin with)
     
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  3. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Feb 8, 2012

    Oh and I do send home letters about what we're doing and have a whole web-site that explains each homework assignment.
     
  4. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    I dont know if I would have the guts to send it but I would probably respond back that the other kids on the class do just fine on the tests and that I went to school to learn my teaching method. If she feels that this other method would be helpful for her child then she can do it with him at home.
     
  5. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Feb 8, 2012

    I think she is overstepping her boundaries. You can just tell her the strategies you use, and what she can do to help her child succeed.
    And, I'm assuming you do a lot of hands on things with the kids, so you can tell her that as well.
     
  6. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Well, I would say thank-you for your concern and suggestions, I hope you will enjoy reading my website (give website) and then list other strategies that you use. I would not be defensive but matter of fact. If it were me I would not share this with my P as they have enough to do. I would document everything just in case it's brought up at a later date.
     
  7. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I would share with the principal (you never know when a parent will suddenly go above you), but I would also tell the mother that she is more than welcome to supplement her child's learning with video clips or whatever the math teacher is doing.

    I would not expect the principal to respond or do anything in regards to the email, but I would definitely want to give them a heads up, just in case.
     
  8. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I would share it with the P. Respond with thank you for your input and please see (website). Then you could add that you use clips occasionally (I'm guessing) but feel like more hands on activities are age and grade level appropriate and that you are preparing them for more lecture based classes of middle school. Also, she could show her daughter magic school bus episoded on you tube to match the concepts covered in homeworek if she thinks her daughter would benefit from them.
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Feb 8, 2012

    Overstepping bounds? Yes, but.....

    Your first sentence shows the crux of the problem. Mom is concerned because her child ALWAYS bombs your tests. There it is. That is the problem.

    I expect that she assumes you are concerned that her child always bombs your tests and are looking for ways to help your student so this doesn't continue to happen. Assuming that you are doing everything you can, she probably is trying to offer a different solution. She may be one of those people that are problem solvers. They give solutions as the form of communication for things they see as issues. She probably has no idea that she is overstepping bounds and sees what she is doing as helpful since she probably believes you have been searching for a way to help your student to not bomb tests.

    I agree the issue needs to be addressed, but maybe if you look at it from this perspective you might be less defensive or offended by her misguided approach.

    I think if you discuss the real problem, you may both be able to come up with ways to help the child not bomb the tests. There may be some small part of the other teacher's strategy that does help the student perform better. Maybe not the whole strategy, but a part of it.

    Finding a solution sure beats having a student that does the homework and does well with class discussions and bombs every test.

    It is evident from 2 communications that this parent has concerns. Ignoring her will only take that good relationship to a bad one very fast.
     
  10. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 8, 2012

    This.
     
  11. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    I wouldn't respond at all. I had a couple parents in the past who wanted to engage in an email tug of war, and being a newish teacher, I kept emailing them back and it got off track.

    I only respond to a parent's email if they are asking me a question. Otherwise, I don't bother. I think she'll get the hint loud and clear when you don't respond and continue teaching the way you feel will best enhance the learning of your students.
     
  12. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    Feb 8, 2012

    I would respond with a telephone call. Emails leave too much room for the reader to take things the wrong way.
     
  13. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    What if you just said thanks for your input and that you appreciate her suggestions. Then she might be off of your back. You've appeased her and she appreciates that you considered her ideas. Sometimes I think parents just want to be heard...
     
  14. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Feb 9, 2012

    Email her and say "Do you know little Johnny Smith and his mom Sue? Well, let me share with you some parenting techniques that she uses. When a new concept is introduced, Sue goes on the internet and finds games for her child to play on the topic and also finds videos that can be used to introduce the new topic to Johnny. Then she reviews my website so she can understand how best to help Johnny with his homework, and she reviews the concepts with him each night so he can pass his tests. Johnny has received straight A's on all of his tests. I thought this might spark some desire in you to implement some games and videos at home. Sincerely, Ms. BioAngel."

    jk, but could you imagine?
     
  15. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Feb 9, 2012

    Thank her, maybe say a few vapid and happy things having nothing to do with pedagogy, then talk specifics about her son's particular situation: what he can do to improve going forward.

    Tell the principal? I suppose it depends on the principal. I tend to deal with everything myself, and I am a demon when it comes to documenting. Most principals these days are so focused on the politicians and bureaucrats outside the building that they are of little use in it.

    The next step in my school would be for the parent to contact the department head. (That is where the principal therefore should direct such a parent's call.) I might mention it to him, as a courtesy. When I was department head, I appreciated a heads up now and again. ("Incoming!")

    99% of these things blow over, of course, but document it all.
     
  16. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    This thread is concerning me more and more. We are loosing sight of the student that is bombing every test. We are focusing on a social error instead.

    The student does his homework (I expect that there is probably some support) and by the OP's admission does well in classroom discussions, yet this child fails every test.

    Honestly, shouldn't we at least consider that there might be something that could be done in the classroom or at testing time to determine why this is occurring. Why is it offensive for mom to bring something like this up? Is it because she has pointed out that she doesn't see anything being done about this issue or if it is it is not communicated in a way she understands it?

    Not all kids will learn everything based on how it is taught or how they are expected to respond. Are we saying in many of these posts, too bad for the kid? Mom has to figure out why he is bombing the tests and what SHE can do about it. Isn't that the job of all 3 to determine how best to tackle this problem?

    OP didn't say this student doesn't pay attention, is always being sent to the office, never does his work, etc.

    I just get a bit frustrated when I read this child always tests but in all other ways is being a 'good' student and the parent ends up being seen as a 'bad guy' because she chose the wrong method to address an ongoing problem - the fact that her child that is trying fails EVERY test.

    No one is saying, hmmm, maybe this issue should have been brought up by the teacher and addressed at sometime in the last year and a half. OP has a good relationship with the parent. Why is the attitude by so many that the teacher does what the teacher does and if the student doesn't succeed at it the problem lies with the parent, not the school. Mom is doing her part of making sure the child has the homework done.

    Again, I'm not saying mom didn't cross the line, but what I am saying it isn't a one-sided problem here. Mom really isn't the 'bad guy' for this mistake. There is a problem that needs to be addressed together which apparently hasn't been addressed.

    OP, don't get defensive. See it as a failed attempt to help her child. I'm sure you have made your share of mistakes over the year and hoped that it would be seen as what it was - a mistake or misguided action - instead of a purposeful hurtful act.
     
  17. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    What is this student doing to prepare for the test? Is she asking for extra help? Is the parent helping her study?
    The offensive part is not that the parent wants to discuss her child's struggles in this class. She should be asking what can be done to help her not telling the teacher what she should be doing differently like the other teacher.
     
  18. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I did not say mom was right. What I did say is there is a problem when a student fails every test.

    Think about it, OP says class discussions are good, homework is done, the only thing is the child bombs the tests. Sure it would be great if the student thinks like an adult and is proactive to corner the teacher and ask to try to figure out why he is bombing the tests but he is not an adult but a child.
     
  19. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    There is plenty I'm not sharing about the student-- just because I don't feel its professional of me to say too much about the situation. Trust me, I know I don't have all the answers and I am troubled about why this student keeps bombing the tests. At this point the child has clearly given up in my class and won't raise her hand at all.

    (What is even more sad for me is that I think that whatever negative attitude her mom has its now rubbing off on her. Mom tends to let her get away with not trying to improve~ I'll leave it at that.)

    She's not asking for extra help and barely asks any questions in class when we're going over the review sheet. What I do to help students plan is to create a review sheet of questions that can be either information they'll need to know -or- practice examples of what will be on the test. Students use their notes to fill in the review sheet first and then we go over it in class-- its their responsibility to check over their work. (I do post an answer key for parents on my class site)

    Maybe the child is not checking her review sheet -or- maybe Mom isn't downloading the answer key. (It seems like Mom likes getting e-mails more than going to my web-site for info) I also think there's a lot of testing anxiety and pressure put on this child. So I honestly have no clue how this child prepares for the test, but I told Mom that if she sees her child struggling at home (because besides being quiet she seems to get it in my class) I'm more than happy to send home extra resources.

    What I bolded above is what I was trying to see if others got as well. I'm all for having conversations about how to help a child, but I don't think its fair that a parent tells ME how to teach my class.

    ---------------------
    Anyways, what I decided to do is to just e-mail the Mom back and explain how I teach:

    That's just a bit of what I e-mailed the Mom. I like being upfront about how I teach and why-- I don't think it needs to be sugar coated and I'd be happy to pull up research for parents if they don't believe I'm using the correct methods in my class. (Yes I have given parents research papers about teaching methods before-- maybe its the science teacher in me :lol: )

    Mom already replied... happily I think... "and definitely more 'extra resources' possible would be great and email us parents... so we could do our parts. "

    I guess whatever I was already given the children~ homework, notes, journaling, lab reports, review sheets, flash cards~ isn't enough?? :confused:
     
  20. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I think my principal trusts me to handle such parental issues like this on my own. Last year I gave her a lot of heads up, but I am the type to document everything~ none of my emails out to parents are ever deleted and none of emails from parents are ever deleted.

    If Mom brings it up, I'll be happy to show my principal my response-- she knows I have a talent for clearing expressing my thoughts and reasons via e-mail. She also knows that some parents like to bully me and watches out about that.

    If I know this Mom I think she'll wait to see what resources I give to help her daughter and I'm going to try to give more attention to this child (mainly a lot more positive encouragement) before going to the principal.
     
  21. kimberlyalice

    kimberlyalice Rookie

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    Feb 10, 2012

    :lol:
     

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