Parent Complaint

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Roobunny, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 18, 2012

    I have no idea what to do about a parent's complaint. Here's the situation:

    I have a second class in the morning (not my homeroom) and they are in my room during announcements. To prepare for the moment of silence we had during announcements yesterday in memory of the horrible events that took place in Newtown, I talked to this class about why we were having the moment of silence. This inevitably led to the discussion of the events that took place.

    This particular class has a lot of higher level thinkers and many of the students knew a lot about what had happened. One student even mentioned that the mother had been shot and I said "yes, and he was a sick man." Many of these kids also knew how many children had died. One student talked about the "beautiful" teacher who died saving her students. While I do feel like the discussion went into more depth than it did in my own homeroom (simply because of how much these students knew) I tried my best to answer questions without censoring too much.

    Anyway, one student in particular told his mother I "taught" them about what happened. Apparently he was scared to come to school. I do not believe I gave the impression that our own school was unsafe. In fact, I talked about the reason we had a lockdown about a month ago...

    The parent has not confronted me, but instead emailed the child's homeroom teacher who told me what had happened. This parent has now gone to administration. I am so hurt that this has happened. I have no idea what to do at this point.

    Maybe I should have stopped the conversation once students started to tell stories they had heard? What should I do?
     
  2.  
  3. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,815
    Likes Received:
    53

    Dec 18, 2012

    When my son was in kindergarten our community was hit by a F5 tornado. They children were scheduled to go on a field trip the next day. The principal wanted to cancel the trip, but his wonderful kindergarten teacher would not allow it. That morning I went early to make sure the trip was still on and to see if she needed help. She handed me her gradebook and asked me to make nametags so she could spend time with the kids. She gathered all 40 (am and pm kindergarten) on the rug and talked to them about what happened the night before. The children shared stories about their houses and friends homes that were destroyed. They told about being in cellars and waiting it out. The fear left their little faces as she reassured them and told them that they were safe at school. I would count her as one of the best teachers I have ever known. That day she won the hearts and admiration of all the parents in the room as we sat crying watching her heal our children. We were about twenty minutes late leaving for our trip, but the children who loaded the bus to go to the zoo were a different group that came to school with fear.

    Adults sometimes forgets that kids are very aware of what is happening around them. It is important for them to talk and get the right answers. Talk to your administration explaining what happened and let it go.
     
  4. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2012
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 18, 2012

    This parent has not yet contacted you, and that is wrong. If they have an issue, they need to talk to YOU. Drop them an email, or better yet call, and say "I did not intend to upset anyone, and I think it was good for the students to be able to talk. If you'd like to discuss your concerns, please feel free to come see me so we can talk about this together."
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Dec 18, 2012

    A parent should know that "taught" being used by a student doesn't mean you had a PowerPoint and quiz. Sheesh. I think you're fine. Your administrator should support you, especially since they had a moment of silence. It's stupid to have that gesture but ban any discussion, so I'm sure you're fine. Assuming you didn't go into graphic detail.
     
  6. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 18, 2012

    This is what perplexes me the most. This parent is very involved in the PTO and I often see said parent at the school. I always take the time to chat and see how things are going. I've even gone to an outside-of-school event the student participated in. I am mystified why the parent felt like they could not come to me regarding the situation...
     
  7. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    Messages:
    9,154
    Likes Received:
    1

    Dec 18, 2012

    Parents sometimes go above head if they feel the conversation might become too defensive or confrontational. A parent might wish to vent rather than discuss. It isn't ideal but it happens.

    I think all schools should have met and discussed how to work through this prior to the school day. It is a sensitive topic.

    Even if you had NOT talked about it, it is still a scary topic. What is worse is that it is becoming an issue that is not isolated to one school. There have been a number of topics on this already and adults are all over the Internet talking about it. That says the average public ADULT is concerned and worried. Imagine a kid hearing the same stuff. It's a horrendous topic.

    I don't think you have anything to worry about with your administration but I can certainly sympathize with the general uneasiness of the topic. Furthermore, different families may be censoring or not censoring certain details due to their own beliefs or uneasiness about the topic.
     
  8. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    4,212
    Likes Received:
    8

    Dec 18, 2012

    We were told that a moment of silence is not appropriate for elementary students because:
    a) they do not understand what it means.
    b) it would require us to bring up what happened, which we were not supposed to do.

    Regardless, it sounds like it was school-wide, and you did not have a choice. We were also told that, if students mentioned the tragedy, we were to focus on school safety and not mention the specifics of what happened. ("It sounds like some of you are worried about safety today. Let's talk about how our school keeps you safe.") If certain students talked about it, we were to say, "This is not a school issue, so we can talk privately at recess." Thankfully, none of my students brought it up.

    With that being said, I would have approached the discussion differently if I were you, but I do not think you reacted inappropriately. Administration should not be upset with you. If they wanted you to approach the situation a certain way, they should have held a meeting before school, as my school did. I would not approach the parent if they did not contact you yet, but I would speak with my administrator. I would want her to hear my side of the story before that of the parent.
     
  9. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    1,522
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 18, 2012

    Roobunny,
    I hope things will be fine for you.
    Your admin should have your back.
    Rebel1
     
  10. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 19, 2012

    I would not have had a conversation about the tragedy with elementary students. By having this conversation, you may have taught some students about the situation. I know that many of my students had no knowledge of what transpired, so if I had a whole class conversation, myself and the other children would have been teaching them.

    As to what to do, I would be honest with your administration. Let them know that you had a conversation with the class, that many of the students were sharing information and you were allowing them to try to process what happened while trying to make them feel safe in the school.

    Then ask your administration about contacting the parent and apologizing for upsetting the child. They may or may not want you to do this, but it's always better to ask so that they see you want to make things right with the family.
     
  11. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,069
    Likes Received:
    233

    Dec 19, 2012

    Definitely reach out to the parent. It's possible that their "complaint" is more just concern than a real issue. I don't think you did anything wrong, and as you mention most of the information came from the students themselves.

    Try not to be too hurt by the parent's going to the administration rather than yourself. It may be an indication that that's where they believe the blame lies, and in a sense it in fact does, since they had the moment of silence.

    If you can, arranging a meeting with the parent is probably a good idea. They may have only a vague idea of what actually happened, and you can describe it more fully than the child may be able to and at the same time present your perspective. It isn't the kind of thing you should really try to do over email, I think. Of course, check with your administration to see if there's anything different about the way they want it handled.
     
  12. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    4,212
    Likes Received:
    8

    Dec 19, 2012

    I think the school majorly messed up by having the moment of silence. It was pretty much an open invitation for students to bring the incident up. It's just not appropriate for elementary students. A moment of silence would be ok for high schools students, and maybe middle school students, but definitely not elementary.
     
  13. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 19, 2012

    And they did...I was a bit caught off guard by how much some of them knew.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Dec 19, 2012

    Second grade is an awfully young age to be taught that there are fears so big and horrible that the grownups can't handle you talking about them... but then, it's always been that way, hasn't it?
     
  15. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,815
    Likes Received:
    53

    Dec 19, 2012

    My six years olds were talking about it on Monday...I just listened and promised them that I would try very hard to keep them safe. I did not encourage the conversation and I tried to get their attention on other things. One little boy who reads on a 4th grade level had read the article on yahoo. He had shared with his classmates details that really they shouldn't have known--before school in the hallway while waiting for school to start. I believe it is important as an adult that I listen and try to calm them. I don't ignore their questions---I have taught through several of scary situations for kids. I taught thirty miles from the Murray bombing. Several of our students lost parents and one lost a sibling in the bombing. My husband's teaching partner worked for the FBI and was stationed in OKC. I kept their 4 year old son for two weeks following the bombing because she was on site. He wanted to talk about the bombing and about the people that were hurt...I just listened and kept reassuring him that his mother was safe and she would be home soon. It was important for him to talk.



    I think sometimes we don't give kids enough credit. They need to know that their fears are real and we are listening to them. I don't think we need to lead the conversation, but we shouldn't shy from it. Things that adults won't talk about are scary and forbidden.
     
  16. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Messages:
    819
    Likes Received:
    166

    Dec 19, 2012

    We were told to redirect any conversations about the shooting to the fact that we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety. We were also warned not to disclose any information about the shooting.

    Your school opened this kind of conversation up when they had a moment of silence for the event.
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Dec 19, 2012

    I know of a few elementary schools around here that had school-wide prayer for the victims.
     
  18. Joy

    Joy Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Messages:
    579
    Likes Received:
    6

    Dec 19, 2012

    It is so wrong of a parent to go to someone else and complain about something that happened in your room. I have parents all the time that decide to do this over very petty things! I even had a parent who had a daughter that was having trouble hearing in my class. Instead of contacting me, she went to the nurse and complained that I was soft spoken. I honestly don't understand why parents don't come to the teacher that they have a question with unless they're just wanting to whine to someone about you.

    As far as the topic, if the school was observing the moment of silence, this obviously was going to happen. I also think that kids are going to talk about this even if the teacher isn't going to bring it up. If I was a parent, you better believe I would tell my kid about it and talk with them about how important it is to follow directions. The fact that kids have to practice lockdowns is pathetic but in this day and age, we have to. I think this parent needs to get off your back!

    If I was approached by the administration about it, I would just state that I tried to be honest and answer questions. If there were students who contributed too much information you really can't help that.
     
  19. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 19, 2012

    On the flip side of this, I had one of my homeroom parent's approach me after school today about some safety concerns she had related to the school. This led to the conversation of the shooting and she mentioned she was glad I had talked about it to the class. She said that she hadn't had a chance to talk with her child and when she asked her daughter if we had talked about it in school on Monday her daughter said we had and told her what we discussed.

    She also said that her child didn't seem to fazed by what had happened - she was more concerned with someone trying to kill Justin Beiber :rolleyes:
     
  20. Joy

    Joy Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Messages:
    579
    Likes Received:
    6

    Dec 19, 2012

    I think it comes down to the fact that this was out of your control. Parents honestly expect teachers to make everything peachy for their kids and it can't be done. I remember being in high school when 911 happened. I was scared to death and felt horrible for those people. While I certainly wouldn't turn on the TV for young children to watch the details of this, I think as Americans, they should know what happened. We can't protect kids from every negative thing that happens and sometimes we owe it to them to talk about it with them. I don't get why a parent wouldn't talk about it with their kids. I would want my kid to know what to do if something did happen. I would also somewhat expect my child to hear something about it either from a teacher or another student and would make sure to have talked about it first.
     
  21. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Messages:
    1,091
    Likes Received:
    1

    Dec 19, 2012

    My school is pre k through 8. We had a moment of silence. My 6th graders wanted to talk about all the prayer services being held at local churches. In the town I live in a prayer vigil was held outside the schools. I live in a very religious community so it would be impossible for all my students not to know what's going on. We also discussed staying safe. We now keep our individual doors locked. I think the Op handled the questions well.
     
  22. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    2,096
    Likes Received:
    2

    Dec 20, 2012

    I think it's better that they had this conversation with you than in on the playground or in the cafeteria. If there are that many children that knew so much about it then it was bound to come up after the moment of silence. Better to talk about it with an adult present than to have little bits and pieces of news stories and possible misconceptions and exaggerations being shared on the playground.
     
  23. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,061
    Likes Received:
    538

    Dec 20, 2012

    None of my first graders brought it up, so I didn't discuss it with them. If they bring it up then it needs to be dealt with appropriately. It sounds like your school invited discussion by having a moment of silence and you handled it as best you could.
     
  24. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 21, 2012

    Thanks for all of the responses. I apologized to the child and wrote an apology note to the parent who seemed satisfied.

    Time to let it go and move on!
     
  25. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 26, 2012

    We also had a moment of silence, a cop on campus, and lockdown drills. All of these events led to my third graders asking questions, wondering why we were doing so many different things. One student said "I know why." and I asked the students who knew to please not talk about it. It eventually got out and I had no choice but to address it because some of the students got scared. I tried my best to make them feel safe but I am now worrying about one parent getting upset because her son got very scared. It really couldn't be avoided to address the topic once the kids started talking about it.
     
  26. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,876
    Likes Received:
    229

    Dec 27, 2012

    Our director general sent us an email encouraging to discuss it with our students. We are a K-12 school, and she didn't specify the grades. None of my students mentioned it so I didn't bring it up. I think if your school had a moment of silence, which I find appropriate, then they should have known that discussion would evolve from that. Therefore, I don't think you did anything wrong. It sounds like the parents is over it now.
     
  27. juli233

    juli233 Companion

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 6, 2013

    I work in a k-3 school and kids talk... even at this age.If you didn't talk to them about it they would have talked to each other anyway. Of course we do our best to be sensitive and reassuring but we are humans and we interpret things differently. I don't think you did anything wrong.
     
  28. queenie

    queenie Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Messages:
    1,392
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 13, 2013

    I agree. What did they think would naturally happen AFTER the moment of silence? 2nd graders wouldn't ask about it or want to talk about it?? In my class we didn't mention it at all, but a week later after we had a lock down drill a couple of my students mentioned it and I simply said that nothing has ever happened at our school to cause us to have a "real" lock down and that everyone is doing everything possible to keep us all as safe as possible. I reminded them that all our outside doors are always locked, etc. I did not allow further discussion after a student asked me what I would do in an actual lock down. I simply said, "The first thing I would do is pray. The next thing I would do is protect you all in any way I could." Then it was back to work. I think it wasn't the best idea to allow them to discuss it since you never know what will come out of a second grader's mouth! And just because some of them surprised you by how much they knew doesn't mean ALL of them knew that much (or needed to know that much). If I was the parent I would be upset, but I would talk to YOU about it if it bothered me enough. Maybe you should go up to her and say, "Mrs. Soandso said that she got an email from you about suchandsuch. I wanted to explain what happened in class that day."
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Taffyphoebe,
  2. ally06
Total: 258 (members: 5, guests: 225, robots: 28)
test