Need some words of... whatever. I have a first for me.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Backroads, Nov 2, 2017.

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  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Today I had a message on my answering machine from my principal. She wanted to set up a meeting with her, me... and the parent of one of my students who no longer wants her daughter in my class. There are no other openings in 2nd grade, so hence the meeting to find another alternative.

    Now, we very recently had conferences. I talked to Mom about what we were doing for her daughter and everything seemed to be okay. No red flags or problems from conferences.

    Now this. I'm floored.

    According to the message, my principal was saying something about Mom not being happy with the homework. My "homework" is a list of things we are studying with some notes of how to help and an optional reading log. My school does not have a homework policy either way, so no, I don't do official weekly homework.

    I politely called back and said the suggested meeting time worked for me and kept it calm and simple, but inside I'm freaking out. I have never had a parent request to remove their child from my class. I feel like the parent went over my head to the administration. I don't want to be belittled about how I don't give mounds of homework.

    Plus, I was about to call this mom concerning some interesting obsevations that came up during interventions... kind of an "aha!" moment about the girl's math struggles. Now I'm afraid to initiate that.

    So... help.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I participate in some parenting boards. One thing I've noticed there is an apparently common tendency for parents to skip the traditional chain and go directly to the principal for any sort of perceived issue. It seems like many parents make many grand assumptions about what motivates teachers (they all hate children, you know) and what teachers do on a daily basis (honestly, why can't they find time to write three-paragraph notes home for every kid in the class every day?).

    My best advice to you is not to take anything personally. Ask the parent to describe specific events or situations where the parent has been unhappy with the outcome. Be prepared to present any data you have about the student and her performance. Let the parent know how much you enjoy having the kid in class and how you'd like her to stay, but leave the decision up to the principal and parent.
     
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  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I am agreeing with Caesar - don't take it personally. As long as you can listen with an open mind and not feel attacked, it may turn out to be a productive meeting with a non-traditional start. Our fear that we will somehow be found wanting weighs heaviest on the teachers who are most concerned and invested in their students. I have witnessed less than stellar teachers enter these kinds of meetings with the simple concept that the parent is crazy, while great teachers are second guessing their every action, because they care so much. If your principal is good, he will have your back.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
  5. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    My first question (as an administrator) to the parent is, "Oh, no! Were you and the teacher able to work out the issue when the two of you met to talk about it?" About 99% of the time, they haven't spoken with the teacher about the issue.

    Then, if things aren't solved, I'll meet with the parent and teacher together.
     
  6. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Seems so common sense, but as noted earlier in the thread, a lot of parents seem to believe that you start at the top, and then work down. I think that there is the belief that because we can email the principal we should email the principal. It's kind of an attitude shift.
     
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  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    And the day is getting progressively worse. I found a paper, when putting in grades, with several swear words and extremely offensive drawings on the back. The kid who owned the paper swears up and down he didn't do it--and I believe him because he really isn't that type of kid and it wasn't his handwriting. So... my two main suspects swear they didn't do.
     
  8. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Oh, my. Well, don't equate the two incidents. They are all in a day's work. Be calm, sure of yourself, and open. If the parent wants more homework, offer workbook pages or suggest a website or something.
     
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  9. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    True. For every parent who wants more homework, I'm sure there are 5 who want less of it! I would definitely try to meet with the principal before the parent is there to make sure you two will be on the same page.
     
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  10. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Go in with a positive attitude because it is most likely a communication problem that might be able to be rectified.

    The parent may have thought that she did discuss her issues with you at the conference even if it didn't seem so to you. Since it didn't equate to what the parent wanted she called the principal.

    I'm a bit confused. How is this homework? Isn't it a potential tutoring plan for a parent? I'm not against parents helping children. For many it is essential they get more instruction out of school. To the parent, it may seem like you are shifting teaching duties by not having more traditional homework that you will look at the next day or week. I assume, though, that your parental help is going over math facts or working with measurement, etc.
     
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  11. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    This happens weekly at my school between the whole staff which has heavy parent involvement- so rest assured you're not alone. Their children have a right to an education, but I feel there are some that take this to mean they have a right to a hand in the classroom decision making :rolleyes:
     
  12. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Perhaps. I'm trying to go in sympathetic. I will keep that in mind.

    It's review. Here are sight words we are studying, here is spelling. We are talking about place value. Can your child point out ones, tens, hundreds? I really don't see it as a tutoring plan since it's so brief--mostly about "here's what we're studying." It's hardly a lesson plan for the parent--in any way, shape, or form. At least, that's how it seems to me. I'll see if she felt she felt pressured like she was "tutor".

    My suspicion is that she doesn't like that there isn't more. I don't like homework for second graders. So, I instead did a classroom letter with spelling words, sight words, and what we're talking about that week. I'm the type that figures if they want worksheets, they can print them out themselves from a hundred different websites.

    So, yeah, it's not homework.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
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  13. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    A teammate theorized that, since this student is struggling in a subject and has major attention issues (also brought up at conferences), this might be a method of avoidance.
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Or, they just have learned already not to take everything personally. And that as teachers we simply cannot be responsible for everything in a child's life and sometimes parent expectations are unreasonable.

    I used to fret about parent-initiated meetings, especially if an admin was involved. Now I'm like "eh, I really don't want to give up that 30 minutes and have to defend myself against whatever accusation is being thrown my way."

    OP - just to give you a heads-up about how ridiculous your meeting might be... I've had meetings where the chief complaints were: I told the class that we were moving beyond middle school expectations towards high school expectations (put too much pressure on the children the first week of school), I gave two students a zero for cheating during a test (was my fault for not making it open-note like his other teachers), I said people are building homes in former forests which is causing some ecological issues (kid's dad is a developer), I slut-shamed (actually, I yelled down the hall "NO PDA! Go to class!), I called a boy "typical" (I kinda did do this. I said playful, immature behavior during class change is typical of freshmen boys but I expected he would get into the habit of entering the room quietly. Her son is NOT TYPICAL. He's special.)
     
  15. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    :toofunny:
    If that's not meeting worthy, what is?
     
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  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Ah! True story?
     
  17. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    oh yeah, true story. She didn't say he was special but she did say that he was NOT typical. And was clearly quite offended that I said so.
     
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  18. TeacherNY

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    I think the parent doesn't like your homework plan is because they can't just let the student do it on their own. They actually have to help their child (shudder)!!!!
     
  19. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 4, 2017

    I've had very few kids or parents request out of my class in my 15 years. When it happens though I've never cared. Good luck with your future endeavors.
     
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  20. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    I had one. Mom didn't like that I actually gave her son consequences just like everyone else... oh my... yes he was extremely smart, but he was also a smart a** who instead of being a role model, was a poor influence on his classmates especially his friend (who struggled) and pretty much emulated him! She thought I was ''picking'' on him -- I wasn't -- and didn't like the way I held him accountable for his actions (like when he was being straight up rude to me or his classmates.) Anyhoo... mom didn't like me and I wasn't offended one bit when she wanted him out. I also spoke to his prior teachers and learned that mom basically just bribed him to behave. Wonderful lesson! :roll:I was over him in my classroom and basically had a "there's the door'' attitude. He ended up getting switched into my team member's class and I got one of hers (that she was having problems with,) so it all evened out. And truthfully it was for the better for ALL of us!
    :)
    I think some take advantage of the fact that were in the ''customer service'' industry and tend to abuse that fact. I'm willing to work with parents, but won't bend over backwards for them.
     
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  21. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    You might want to tell your principal that if this happens again, the first thing out of the principal's mouth should be, "What did Mrs. Backroads say when you discussed this with her?" Your P really let you down by not referring the parent back to you.

    Several years ago I had a parent request her child be moved. It was profoundly upsetting to me. Her problem was that I did things differently than the previous years teacher. I would echo the comments of others who said to try and not take this personally, and try to figure out what's best for the child.
     
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  22. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    We are not in the customer service industry. The sooner WE start believing that, the sooner the public starts understanding it. Maybe, MAYBE, private school teachers are a bit, but even they should move away from that train of thought.

    We need to realize we are more like doctors. And not all doctors - doctors in public clinics or public hospitals. We do not have to sell ourselves in order to get people to use our services. We will have "customers" so we don't have to worry about advertising. Instead, we need to worry about giving our students/patients/customers the best care we can. Our students' parents do NOT know what is best for them academically (or the class as a whole) and they do not get to make the classroom decisions.

    My job is not to make anyone happy. My job is to make sure Johnny is presented with the material that can make him successful. In a manner that he can access it. I'm not even responsible for his learning. He is. If people are happy while we're doing this, great. If they aren't, then that is a lesson in itself.
     
  23. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Maybe it depends on the school (location) you're in. We were in constant competition with other public schools just a stone's throw away AND charter schools, of course, because Arizona lives by them! They're like Starbucks: EVERYWHERE! So we pretty much were in the customer service industry; if parents weren't happy, they'd take their kids elsewhere. And we were already competing for limited resources as students = $. And that's not true either about advertising, in fact, my second year... one of the first activities we had to do during our before school meetings was to go around in the competing school districts and put up ads for our school on everyone's door as a way to lure their children into our district. I felt so scummy doing it :(. I agree that if we just do a good job, we'll keep them coming, but the district didn't see it that way.
     
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  24. TrademarkTer

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    That's actually insane.
     
  25. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I'm with you up to this point. If Johnny doesn't learn, we need fix that. It's on us. Children are too young to consent to failure.
     
  26. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I agree to a point and disagree to a point. It's our job (as part of a team) to help find out why Johnny struggles with learning and how to fix that.

    At the same time, Johnny can't be told he doesn't matter in the learning process.

    If Johnny isn't studying, it's not my fault.
     
  27. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I had a ephiphany on this. Since I hadn't heard issues concerning my homework, I was perplexed.

    Last week, Kiddo was checked out just as we were starting a math practice page post-lesson. I let Kiddo take the page with her... never to be seen again.

    I now think that page may be the troublesome "homework".
     
  28. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I disagree that teachers are like doctors. We don’t have anywhere near the amount of schooling, training, or responsibilities that doctors have. I have several friends who are doctors and they all have a minimum of 8 years of school followed by a 3- to 7-year residency and then some go to do a 3-year fellowship after that. Not only that, but doctors have to purchase malpractice insurance and can be sued for just about everything.
     
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  29. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I don’t think the responder was referring to a disabled student. I think they just meant the mother thought her son was special as in unique or advanced. I am just speculating, though.
     
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  30. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    That's the impression I got.
     
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  31. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    No. "Unique" students are not necessarily gifted and talented as defined in an educational setting. Even "advanced" students are not necessarily gifted and talented.

    Appropriate language is important, but it's equally important not to be misleading in our choice of words by assigning very specific labels to students who don't meet the criteria for them.
     
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  32. 2ndTimeAround

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    Then you're being overly sensitive. I never once said that the child was in the special education program. Which he wasn't.
     
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  33. 2ndTimeAround

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    That's not what I meant. Not the level of education we have, but instead the fact that our students are going to come to us, we do not have to seek them out. And that we are going to "treat" our students as we see fit, not how their parents are going to request.
     
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  34. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Oh my goodness. If you're going to take offense and correct other teachers, at least use people-first language. E.g. a student with special needs
     
  35. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I thought you were supposed to be the fun teacher!!!!! PC is not fun :confused::confused::confused::confused::confused:o_O
     
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  36. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Which means don't respond if you don't comprehend.
     
  37. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Yet you decided to stick your own interpretation on the post.
     
  38. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    This made me laugh, lol!
     
  39. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Meeting over.

    It went... awesomely. My principal was amazing, and it really was just a worried mom who is now coming in to volunteer and help.
     
  40. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm glad to hear it. I think it can be easy to get worked up about stuff like this, but it's probably better to assume good intentions on the part of the parent. Parents don't always know how school works, and sometimes their expectations and how they think they should go about fixing a perceived problem may not be entirely correct. If we as teachers can keep a level head and really listen to the parent, there's often a solution somewhere in there that everyone can be happy with.
     
  41. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I so agree. The real key to working with others is trying to find out what someone really means, not necessarily what they are saying.
     
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