Potential Upcoming Parent Observation Making Me Uncomfortable

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by HistoryTeach4, May 30, 2017.

  1. HistoryTeach4

    HistoryTeach4 Rookie

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    We have a parent who has been trying to come in and observe her child and the classrooms all year. Administration has been adamant in telling her no, but at our staff meeting today we were told that the parent would be allowed to observe. Administration has set some strict guidelines and rules, but I am still feeling uneasy. There is a chance that this observation won't be happen in my class, but there is a possibility that it might.

    This is one parent that I feel very uneasy about having in my classroom. I feel like she is out to get me (and the other teachers in the school). At conferences I explained everything I do in class and was told it is not good enough. I do not need her sitting in the back of the room judging me and how I teach her child. I have a strong that her child will not perform as well as she usually does knowing her parent is in the room (part of the reason she wants to observe is because her child does not communicate with her at home).

    I have anxiety to begin with. Its the end of the school year and I don't need anymore. I have shown this parent how to access my online classroom. She has all that she needs at her fingertips and I don't see why she needs to come in. Am I wrong in feeling uncomfortable? Is this something I should bring up with Administration? I keep thinking about that, but feel like if I do the response will just be "oh well."
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I don't think it's wrong to feel uncomfortable -- one can feel uncomfortable even if one is teaching "perfectly" with the situation you're mentioning.

    As a result, I think you should definitely connect with your principal and have that discussion. I'm sure they could brainstorm some options with you...if they are allowing them to come in, perhaps the administrator could also join them during that time so that there are multiple eyes on the situation and thus it doesn't become parent said, teacher said. Or, some kind of videotaping of just your teaching at the same time.
     
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  4. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    It should be set up so that there parent has a place to sit out of the viewpoint of the child, and the child should not know when the parent is doing the observation. In my experience, children act differently when they know their parent is there. If the child is trying to play the parent against you, there is no telling how it will go. I would also request an administrator also sit in on the observation.
     
  5. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Companion

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    I would feel the same way. Do you know what day it would be? If so, I would plan some activities that are more student-centered and make sure I wasn't up at the front of the room teaching. I would feel more comfortable being observed circulating while students work on an essay or facilitating Kahoot or even giving a test because there would be less of "me onstage" to criticize. (I hate the term student-centered and there is nothing wrong with lecturing, but in this situation I would want her to observe as little of me as possible.)
     
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  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is excellent advice.

    I have had a few parents out to get me over the years, too, and I certainly wouldn't be happy about having them observe me in the classroom. My district policy allows them to do that, though, so it's what it is.
     
  7. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    The observation becomes moot when the student knows the parent is in there. The behaviour is different, the level of effort is different. It's not a true picture unless the student does not know he/she being observed.

    A courtesy extended to one parent means a precedent has been set for other parents. It's opening a can of worms.
     
  8. HistoryTeach4

    HistoryTeach4 Rookie

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    Thank you all so much for your replies. I wish I knew the day so I could plan something different. If might be hard being it it's the end of the year and there's is so much to cover. The parent will have an escort you is supposed to stay in the room. We had meetings with her a month ago that someone was supposed to be in, but my person left to get information so I am worried that would happen again.
     
  9. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Is the parent an educator? How is she qualified to know if you are a good teacher or not. Maybe she can bring in a copy of all of her degrees and certifications to verify that she has a clue about what she's complaining about.
     
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  10. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    I'd be figuring out ways to turn the spotlight on the parent. If she's going to come to my classroom, I'm going to get her involved in whatever we're doing. I'd introduce her to the class when she arrives and have her tell a little about herself and why she's visiting that day. Then just treat her like a student. If you're tossing out questions to the students/class and no one responds, ask the parent if she knows the answer. If the kids are doing independent or group work for a portion of the class, make sure to invite the parent to get up and walk around to see what they are working on. Escort her around yourself, explaining the assignment or activity.

    By the time the class is over, she'd be the anxious one. You come into MY turf, you better be ready to play by MY rules, lady. :)
     
  11. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I love the way you think!!!
    If she doesn't know the answers to the questions maybe she'll just leave early LOLOL
     
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  12. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Companion

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    We have cameras in every classrooms. Parents are not allowed in the classroom to observe, but they are more than welcome to watch through the cameras. We are usually told ahead of time if we will be observed. The student usually does not know. I always feel like an extra adult in the room messes up the dynamic of the classroom. I can work with this, and I do, but I prefer the cameras.
     
  13. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    The antagonism toward parents in this thread is kind of disgusting. We go on and on railing about how we don't get parental support as teachers. This makes it pretty obvious why that is the case.

    It is fine to feel nervous when any adult is observing you, I think that's natural. Asking a parent to trust you with their child when you flat out disrespect them by demanding to see their degrees or trying to embarrass them is gross.
     
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  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is not always true. A few years ago I had a student who straight up hated me. Hated me. From what his mother told me and reported to the principal, it was apparent that the student was making up serious lies about things he claimed I had said or done. It was a very bad situation. The assistant principal asked the kid's football coach to sit in on my class (which is a whole other story) and report back. Imagine my surprise when the kid acted like his normal, belligerent self while that coach was in my room. The coach backed me up on everything and ended up kicking the kid off the team. I never got any sort of apology from anyone--not the kid, not the mom, and not my AP for violating my contract by having a non-administrator observe me like that. This was one of the first incidents that started to open my eyes about how toxic my school environment was.
     
  15. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    If the parent wants to be supportive, she can come in and help out in the classroom or the school. The OP indicates that this parent has been a bit of an issue to deal with in the past. If her problem is that her daughter is not communicating with her at home about what is going on in school, that's between the parent and her daughter, it's not the fault of the teachers.
    I'm tired of teachers needing to bend over backwards to placate parents and kids who are just looking for a scapegoat to blame everything on so that they don't have to be responsible for their own shortcomings. It sounds like this parent and her daughter have a communication issue, but who gets put on the spot? The teacher.
    There's a difference between a supportive, involved parent and one that is trying to gather proof that the teacher is the problem. There's a reason the school has denied this woman up to this point, and that most schools flat-out do not allow parents to sit in on their kids' classes.
     
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  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    We have cameras in our classrooms but we still don't allow observations. The camera only shows / records video, not audio, and my P a long time ago said that things could be taken out of context, for example the teacher could be talking and heavily gesturing (like I do sometimes) and it might look like she's arguing, or is frantic, because the viewer can't tell what they're saying.

    If the kid knows the parent is there, there is no point for the observation, in my opinion. If he's normally not doing his work, or is being disruptive, if he knows the parent is there, he'll act like an angel. And then it's easy for the parent to say "well, he was great when I was there, maybe you don't know how to teach".

    I would second the change up the activities to a test, or more students centered approach, and if possible have an admin escort the parent.
     
  17. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    ...I can't imagine the fun captioning one could do with some of my "emotive" (read: not emotional, but where I'm doing a bit of stage acting as a teacher) moments in class. :D
     
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  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I don't think anyone is out to lynch this parent. Someone is being a bit over dramatic. Mostly, I think we're trying to make the OP feel better about the situation. It's one thing if the parent just wants to observe but it seems like this parent wants to have a say in everything.
     
  19. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Lynch? Seriously? I go from quoting your specific suggestions to the suggestion that I called that lynching? Unbelievable and yet, completely believable.

    As has been said, words matter.
     
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  20. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    OK, I will tell you that I have been that parent observing. My son was changing district, and I had some choice in which gen ed teacher I believed would be most appropriate with my son. I had volunteered and been a part of his classes and activities for five years, and I knew that he was nervous about leaving his "known" for the "unknown". When I observed the teachers in question, I noted that one teacher treated her students as very young and immature, inappropriate for my son who was a year older than the rest of the students. A second teacher was abrupt and curt with her students, very different for the teachers of the prior 5 years, and I knew he would be intimidated. The other two teachers were similar but one was better at drawing the students in. She was my choice, but she was replaced by a young teacher who was similar. My son got to know the other teachers, as did I, since I volunteered in the school, and later subbed there. I was friends with all of these ladies, but I needed to be comfortable moving my son from one district to another. I wasn't looking to accuse anyone, only to find a teacher who would work with my son. Each teacher worked best with certain students, not unlike the schools I have worked at since. If I had a problem with my child communicating with me at home, I would be wanting to investigate, too. Note I said investigate, not accuse anyone. The parent in question might be very different from me, or just like me. I believe that it is my obligation to accept parent observations if requested - my kids all need parental support, anyway that they can get it. I know that it made me feel better in a time of change, so I would be very tolerant and accepting.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
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  21. HistoryTeach4

    HistoryTeach4 Rookie

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    Thank you to those who have supportive and encouraging responses. I really appreciate all the support and ideas. I have spoken with the other teachers I the school and they are not happy with the situation either. It's happening and no matter how uncomfortable I am I have to deal. The parent will have an escort and is not going to be allowed to disrupt or interact for any reason.

    I have a lesson where we are going to be stimulating trench warfare. Maybe I should save it if she comes in lol.

    I have given this parent unlimited access to all the materials I use in class. All she needs to do is log on and she all see everything that we do in class.
     
  22. HistoryTeach4

    HistoryTeach4 Rookie

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    If you don't have anything related to the post to say then you shouldn't be commenting. The antagonism that you are speaking about is not about parents in general (my opinion from reading the posts). There are so many wonderful parents out there, but there are also ones that you may feel are coming after you. It just so happens that is what we always talk about, the negative. This is an anonymous forum where people are expressing there concerns and frustrations (again my opinion) and getting advice. This is not about disrespecting anyone. I don't think any one here would actually do those things, even though we might think it and say it out loud to relieve stress and frustration.
     
  23. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    My words are entirely related to the post. Bullying ANY parent is not acceptable, period and I will speak out against it whenever it is even applied let alone directly recommended as it was here just as I would if it were one student to another.

    You let me know when you're okay with a parent putting you down because they were relieving stress and frustration.
     
  24. HistoryTeach4

    HistoryTeach4 Rookie

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    The post was about advice of what to do with the situation. You took it to the level of bullying. You picked two or three posts to focus on instead of all the other ones which were supportive and helpful. So you are saying that you or a colleague has never said anything out of frustration. I have worked in a few schools and other businesses and it happens all the time. I am sure that parents have put me down when talking about me. I've had parents put me down to my face. I got over it. Some of those parents I am very close with today. Stress and frustration happen. We do or say things. We're human. No one's perfect.
     
  25. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    You win. Congrats.

    Good luck with the parent.
     
  26. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Last year, I had one parent who wanted to observe my classroom, and I did feel like she was going to be judgmental and critical in the process. Luckily, my supervisor vetoed this parent's desire to observe my teaching, and so she did not come to my classroom. She has since cooled down, but I am glad she didn't observe me because it would have been disruptive. Who are the students supposed to think is in charge of the classroom? The teacher who teaches the class, assigns homework, and returns grades, or the parents who are apparently grading the teachers? I think teachers should be accountable to their communities, but teachers cannot go into the homes of parents and grade them on their childrearing practices, and I also do not want people outside of the official school hierarchy grading teachers on their own work.

    To the poster, I would include the parent to some degree and certainly introduce the parent to the class of students, so it appears like the parent's visit is collaborative and you consented to the visit, which will eat away less at your authority in the classroom. Then teach the best, most collaborative, inclusive and energetic class that you can teach. Give the parent copies of your handouts and assignments. And tell the parent you are happy to answer any questions he or she might have.
     
  27. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    I don't mean this to be directed at you specifically, but your post got me thinking.
    If you're allowed to sit in on teachers classrooms to pick the teacher that you feel would be best for your child, shouldn't ALL parents get that privilege? Are we going towards a time when it's not enough to be hired at a particular school, but then you've got to be deemed "worthy" of teaching each parent's child?

    And if parents can have the right to do this, why can't teachers? Maybe teachers should be allowed to observe their upcoming students the year before and inform parents which students they feel would be a "best fit" for them and which wouldn't. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Smith. I observed Billy in his English I class today and I just don't think he's a good fit for my English II class. I'm sure one of the other English II teachers will like him better than I do. Thanks, and have a great summer!"
    To me, one of the most important aspects of school is that students learn how to function in society. This means learning how to deal with all sorts of people in all sorts of circumstances. Especially at the secondary level. These kids are a few short years from being adults. If they are allowed to avoid anything and everything that might not be ideal for them, they're going to have very frustrating lives as working adults.
     
  28. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    In my state parents are allowed to observe the classroom. You have to check in with the office and/or make an appointment. I've invited parents in multiple times, and it has always worked out. I've had a couple of parents who I felt were out to get me, say they would come in, as a threat, but when I welcomed them to do so, they never showed up. I teach high school and it would be downright humiliating for a child's parent to come in, so most parents don't take advantage of the opportunity.

    Adult visitors aren't that disruptive. We have people come in and out a lot, and the kids don't really act any differently. I'm sure if Johnny was lying about me and his mom wanted to prove his point, he'd be a perfect angel. But that's never happened to me.
     
  29. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I think you touched on the reason I was allowed to have such an impact - my son was going into second grade. But in my circumstance, the sending district was trying to save money and they needed me to give up a program which had been highly successful and accept a program I had grave reservations about. They were trying to sell me on their qualifications, and I was reluctant to go backwards in my son's progress. The year prior, not one of the first grade teachers wanted an NI child in their class without a full time aide, which the CST refused to write into the IEP. There was some unrest between admin, CST, and parental interests.

    My son was classified Neurologically Impaired, and had been in a self contained classroom out of district. My home district did not have an NI classroom, but wanted very much to bring my son into district to cut down on the costs of transportation ($40,000/year) and out of district tuition ($16,000/year). They were trying to convince me that their pull out resource room and a gen ed teacher would be just as good as the NI classes he had been in for the last three years, and the self-contained preschool handicapped classroom that he had attended for the two years before that. No one questioned the progress that he had made during this time, and the district could not remove him from the program without my permission, since the resource room version did not quite check off all of the boxes in his IEP.

    Because I had volunteered in the receiving district and spent a lot of time in that district, and because I had a good relationship with our CST, I was encouraged to come observe the gen ed teachers for the grade he would be going into. The district was hoping to save money, I was hoping to finally have my son in district, 3 miles from our home, instead of the 28 miles he was traveling each way out of district. I had observed the types of teachers and aides that seemed to get the most out of my son, and he was no longer going to have an aide if in district, so the gen ed teacher really mattered. I was willing to consider the changes if the right gen ed teacher could be found, because I already knew that the only teacher in the resource room could not control the classroom, and I was highly resistant to lose the progress of the last five years.

    Now jump ahead 25 years and I frequently get adults who observe my classes - we are an all SPED school, and all of our students have to be approved by the sending district. I have been down that road, and I do feel that the sending districts/guardians should have the option of observing my classes, since we have three different divisions to consider, and seeing how the classes are run in each division may make a parent more likely to understand our goals and objectives with each of the populations we deal with.

    Returning to my son, he did well with the gen ed teacher, but hated the SPED teacher - the class was always in chaos. By the end of the second year there, he begged to have a chance to function without the resource room. He was willing to do whatever was necessary to stay out of that room. He was self aware, capable of being retaught at home, and I stood up for him. His IEP was accepted "with reservations", because I said I would take it to court if they didn't let us at least try to accommodate his wishes. I would reteach him every night, he worked without complaining, his grades rose, and math, long his hardest subject, went from Basic Skills Enrichment to highest math group by grade seven. By the end of MS, the CST helped craft his 504 Plan, so he would be covered for the help he would continue to need (increased test times, use of a calculator, preferential seating). My son graduated with honors, and is now an ESL teacher.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
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  30. HistoryTeach4

    HistoryTeach4 Rookie

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    Well it's happening this Friday. The parent was supposed to inform the principal when she was coming last Friday, but did it' cert the weekend and then changed the date. One of the "rules" was the days needed to be set by last Friday afternoon, but that one wasn't enforced so now I am wondering which other ones won't be. The parents escort its someone I trust to keep this parent to those rules. It just doesn't makes me feel good that I can't trust administration. When I didn't hear I figured it wouldn't be happening this week so I planned a special activity for Friday that I now have to change for the sake of my students. I am seriously contemplating using one of the many sick days I am lose at the end of the year. If the parent it's trust there to observe hee could it should matter if I am there our not.
     
  31. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    You never know. I've seen an observing parent go from complaining to "I don't know how she does it!"
     
  32. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Doing so would lend support to the parent's supposed position. You would come out looking worse not just to the parent but to administration. It would make it appear you have something to hide.
     
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