Parent /Teacher Conflict: Is face to face better than, phone, email or letter?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jackstreet, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

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    Sep 26, 2009

    Until this year we have home schooled our daughter so I have very little experience with resolving issues with teachers. So last week when I found out that my daughter was being punished for missing an after school activity I went to visit the principal. I should note two things. One, I had sent a letter and called prior to the event to let the school know that my daughter would not be attending. Two, I'm very busy and really didn't have the time to leave work to visit the school. As it turned out, I talked with the principal, expressed my concern, heard his view and we arrived at a resolution (I think). But the experience was uncomfortable as each of us was working so hard at demonstrating patience and sensitivity, that the whole experience was just plain awkward. I thought I was reasonable but it it felt like I was being the parent from hell. On the job I do 90% of my work by phone. Relationships are formed, projects are completed and problems are resolved all without ever meeting face to face. Handling the matter by phone would have been natural for be. But I went to visit the principal because, frankly, that's what my parents would have done.

    Which do you feel is the best way to resolve parent / teacher issues, face to face, phone, email or letter?
     
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  3. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    Sep 27, 2009

    Oh dear.

    First of all, I don't agree with the notion of punishing a child for missing an after-school activity. I'm sorry you and your daughter had to go through that. How exactly (if you don't mind my asking) were they punishing her?

    As far as issues go---if it is a small issue, a note or phone call is fine. If it is a larger issue, I'd like to meet in person. But that could just be me. :)
     
  4. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

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    They were going to require her to mop the restrooms and the hallways for the rest of the term.
     
  5. Mrs.DLC

    Mrs.DLC Comrade

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    Wow! Is it a private school?? I don'tknow if that would even be allowed at the public schools I have been in! What age is she?
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think the best way to handle teacher/parent issues is with the teacher, not the principal, at least as a first step.

    It sounds as though your daughter got a pretty hefty punishment, and as though you should know a whole lot more about the backstory than you seem to. So there should have been a series of communications between parent and teacher, leading up to an entire term of clean-up. I would start with the teacher and see why the situation seems to have jumped from 0 to 60 without my knowledge.
     
  7. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

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    Yes it is a private school and she is 14
     
  8. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

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    Sorry, I forgot to mention that this is a small private school and the principal teaches. I started with the principal because he was the one who declared the punishment and he was the one I originally called when I notified the school in advance that my daughter would not be attending.

    That said, the issue I'm trying to clarify is whether handling this matter by phone, email exchanges, letter or even instant messenger would have been equally or more effective, less threatening and preferred by most educators over a face to face meeting.
     
  9. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Sep 27, 2009

    In this case, a face to face meeting was the way to go. Like Alice said, however, it seems that there were some steps in the process that were missed.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 27, 2009

    Face to face with all of the parties involved, including your daughter.
     
  11. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Sep 27, 2009

    Public schools would not require a student to attend an activity beyond school hours. It seems as if your child's private school does demand that kind of committment. That kind of information should have been disclosed when she was enrolled. If it was (and you ignored it), you need to rethink your schedule. If it was not disclosed, you have cause to make major complaints. Either way, if you can't fulfill their requirements, you both would be happier to enroll in a school without such requirements or punitive punishment. It's unacceptable to make children clean in that manner. I'd leave now before the school year continues.
     
  12. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    :)I think that there is not enough information on our part to formulate a decision as to what happened and why your daughter was punished so severely. And that does sound like a severe punishment. Since the school is a private institution they obviously can incorporate punishments like these, whereas in the public school arena, we would have a lawsuit on her hands no matter what the student had done. So, I think in all fairness, there is just not enough information to formulate a decision. But I will say that face to face is always best. Emails can be misconstrued and people tend to get more defensive when they have a phone that they can hide behind. I guess the question I am wondering about is... How does you daughter feel? Does she like the school? Is she making friends? Is she doing well academically? If your answer is yes, to these questions, then I think that you need to let it go and let her flourish in this environment that she obviously enjoys. If your answer is, no. then I think you may need to evaluate if this is the best place for her personally. I do hope everything turns out well. I know that the bottom line is that we want our children in a place where they are happy and learning. Again, I wish you all the best.:):)
     
  13. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Sep 27, 2009

    Mop the restrooms and hallways!

    Yes, a face to face conference was best. There'd be a lawsuit in public school with that type of punishment, and for missing an after school function!
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree that we shouldn't rush to judgement.

    If the after school function was detention, or something of that nature, it's an entirely different matter than having missed basketball practice.

    But face to face is always best. And, since she's in high school, by all means have her there so that everyone gets the whole story.
     
  15. lou reed

    lou reed Companion

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    Truth. I'm guessing there's more to this story...

    The private school I'm in has mandatory after school activities, so it's not unheard of. We also make it very clear that they aren't optional.
     
  16. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Not directly answering the question, but on topic:
    Personally, I wouldn't like that sort of punishment for my child. If I were you, and this is the whole story, I would make sure to clarify the policies of the school. I went to a private school, and we had nothing like this. Sure, we had some mandatory after-school activities, but punishments would have been in line with normal punishments, such as detention, or losing privileges (ex: if it was a mandatory prom meeting and you missed, no prom for you). If this sort of punishment was not disclosed to you in the beginning, I think you have a right to request a meeting with the principal (face to face) and ask about the school's policies. Is there a handbook that includes this information? Or is it willy nilly whatever the person who gives the punishment decides? If it's the latter, what are punishments typically used, and what's the limit (ex: could requiring her to clean the toilets be another punishment?) Once you have this info, you should talk with your daughter and discuss whether the punishments are acceptable to both of you. If they're not, you may want to reconsider your choice of school.

    Second, this after school school activity sounds like it was also mandatory for YOU. Since you decided to send her there, you need to play by their rules. Find out what all mandatory after school activities are for the year (whether they require your daughter's attendance or yours), and make arrangements accordingly. If leaving work is not an option for you, then talk to the principal and see what other options are available. At my old school, it could be another relative or chosen representative of you attending, and sometimes even another parent was allowed to "fill-in" for a missing parent, if it was arranged ahead of time. See if your school allows any options like this. BTW, if we had something that was required for students (or even was something we wanted to do), my friends and I would sometimes make arrangements to go to each other's houses between school and the event. My best friend went to my school, but lived out of state. So she'd come to my house or we'd go to someone else's house where we knew we would have a way of getting back to the school (buses, parents or older siblings driving, etc.). You should think about encouraging your daughter to do that for the next time!
     
  17. missamie

    missamie Rookie

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    Well our principal only allows us to use email for a quick tidbit of information because what is written doesn't always carry the correct intonation that a phone or face to face conversation does.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    That sounds ridiculous. In the private schools where I worked, parents had a lot of influence-since it was their tuition money that kept us in 'business'. The discipline philosophy in this school sounds way out of line and I think I would have pulled my kid from the school at the hint of such a punishment....an alternate assignment, maybe. Cleaning the restrooms...hell no.
     
  19. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

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    Sep 28, 2009

    Thank you all for your comments and insights on this. Perhaps the big missing piece of data here is that we live outside the U.S. so the basic cultural norms are different. This of course exacerbates the communications challenge. In any case, many thanks for your perspectives.
     
  20. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I was wondering if that were the case. My wife has mentioned her school punishments when growing up in Japan were sometimes like this. In fact, I think in her primary school it wasn't even a punishment, just something the kids had to do regularly to take care of their school. And they didn't get the luxury of an actual mop to mop the floors with, either -- they got a rag and hand-wiped the hall floors (I think restroom duty got actual mops).

    It's actually not the worst thing in the world. Kids do at least learn to care for their surroundings and to work hard.

    If it were me, and I didn't have my wife's advice and was faced with such a problem, I'd meet face-to-face. Phone and messages are difficult when you cross language and culture. At any rate, I'm not sure the teachers here can tell you what's culturally appropriate for another culture -- even if they vehemently argue for one option, it may be a matter of their perspective.
     
  21. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    What? That's ridiculous....
     

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