Strange parent note

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by otterpop, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I got a weird note from a parent today.

    It said, student will be doing -aaa- instead of -bbb- (the assigned task) for their homework assignment each week.

    No extra explanation was given.

    Honestly, activity -aaa- is a fine activity that practices the same skill as -bbb-. But I find it strange that the parent provided no reason, and didn't ask, instead just assuming this was their decision to make. The assignment is just basic practice, so there's no chance it's a moral disagreement or anything like that, and the alternative assignment they chose is about the same level of difficulty, so it's not that they need their child more or less challenged.

    How would you handle that?
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Honestly, I'd just let it go. I wouldn't say a word.
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Yeah, I think I will too. At least it's practicing the same skill.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I think I'd talk to the parent and inquire about the change. Doing nothing implies consent which could lead to more parental decisions/changes regarding your pedagogy.
     
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    This was my concern too. I don't mind their choice of assignment, but there was a reason I assigned the original work.
     
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  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'd also want to just open a discussion -- with no ill-intent/feelings behind it, but just to understand their reasoning. I've found that almost all of the time, remaining open to their thoughts, and then finding the commonalities in our mindsets and utilizing that from there forward, not only smooths things out but also strengthens our relationship.
     
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  8. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    I think I would probably leave it alone for now. If another instance happens where they are questioning something, then I would go ahead and start a conversation about it. But I'm a little passive :)
     
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  9. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    They aren't the same activity. I would think about the difference between the two to help give you a better idea why they want one over the other each week.

    I would ask
     
  10. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I would ask why. If it's a non-graded activity then I'm not sure you could change their minds but if it happened to be graded, and the student will NOT get credit for tasks, then maybe they would change their minds.
     
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  11. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Absolutely agreed. The parent thought this was needed for some reason and maybe they're right and it's appropriate, but you should at least be aware. It also indicates something peculiar is going on which could be helpful or interesting to know about the child's circumstances.
     
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  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    You could always invite her in to help you lesson plan.
     
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  13. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    :whistle: Eh... maybe not. Haha.
     
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  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    This is a good point... Maybe it will help you better understand the student and find out if there are changes that you need to make in the classroom.

    I guess it really depends what grade you teach and what your purpose for homework is. I teach third grade, and I'm very lax when it comes to homework. I don't like creating it. I don't like assigning it. I don't like tracking who turned it in and who didn't. I don't like grading it. I don't like dealing with parent questions and concerns about it. I just have much better things to do with my time. And, frankly, I think the same is true for kids and their families. I encourage reading and math practice of an open-ended kind, but I don't send home regular homework worksheets anymore. If I was in your situation, I'd just be happy that the student is doing something at home. I wouldn't care what it was he was doing. The fact that his parent cares enough to engage him in something academic is good enough for me. And that's why I'd let it go. I can think of twenty other things on my school to-do list - let alone my home to-do list - that seem like a bigger priority than engaging a parent over why she wants her child doing a different kind of homework. Maybe I'd ask about it casually the next time I see her, but I wouldn't make a special contact about it. That's just me, I guess.
     
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  15. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Are you able to ask the teacher they had last year about the parent? Maybe you can find out from them whether the parent is known to feel entitled to have a hand in the decision making at school or is usually supportive of the teacher. It may help you decide whether to approach the parent or let it go.
     
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  16. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    At the very least, by talking to them, you'll get the real answer.
     
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  17. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    When I read your post, it sounded familiar. There are some parental advice organizations that encourage parents to alter assignments and send just such a note to the teacher. The reasons for altering vary. The occasional situations I've encountered have been for the smallest details in the assignment, but to the parent, it was a major concern, which I respected and attempted to work with the parents when possible. I'd recommend politely discussing the situation with the parent; communication opens doors.
     
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  18. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I would just ask the parent about it. If you don't, this, what ever this is, could grow and get out of control.
     
  19. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Hmm... I'm curious... what types of organizations?

    I have seen some viral posts on facebook of parents sending a note saying their child would not be doing any homework, period.
     
  20. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I would be supportive of this.
     
  21. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I'm very supportive of it if it's on a school level, but I think that everyone has to be on board, otherwise there is parental confusion over it - why does my child have homework but students in Mrs. A's class do not? or why does my child not have homework but students in Mr. B's class do?

    And, if it's one parent/student in a class, it's "why do we all have to do homework but Abby does not?" Then, you have to either give that child zeros on all assignments or excuse the student from all homework, and is that really fair to the other kids who do complete theirs?

    Optional homework is okay too, but again wouldn't work in my school culture, in which parents expect students to really be pushed (and to get lots of homework, whether they like it or not).

    Anyway, though, I digress - I don't think this is the parent's issue with the assignment.
     
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  22. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I'd argue that not all students and families are alike, and what works for one family does not work for all. Just like many things, homework is not something that needs to be equal for all students in order to be fair. In fact, just this week, a colleague and I had a parent email us about her two adopted children who suffered trauma in their early life. She explained to us via email that both children spend their evenings during the week going to counseling sessions and therapies, as well as extracurriculars that they need for social development. She said that she didn't know how to juggle all of that on top of homework and trying to find the time to be a family. We both responded with the same thought, which was echoed by our principals: Don't do the homework. All of those other things are the priority. Homework is so far down the priority list, it shouldn't be causing any additional stress on the family. Meanwhile, all of the other students in the class are expected to do the homework... My answer to any other parent who questioned our decision would be that we differentiate for homework the same way that we differentiate in class. And, I'd tell any other family that they should feel empowered to make the decisions that are best for their family, too.
     
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  23. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Only complaints i ever got was too little homework.
     
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  24. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    I'd say talk to the parent, like other have suggested. Some kids hold it together during the school day and once they get home parents have to deal with fall-out. An emotionally exhausted kiddo is not a rational kiddo, and the parents might be picking their battles to maintain the peace at home and school? Maybe the other assignment is perceived as "easier" by the child and therefore less of a struggle for them? Just some guesses.
     
  25. DAH

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    If you didn't indicate that students had to do both activities, then there's nothing more for you to say. It sounds like the parent had concerns about her child doing both, so she administered "parental permission" (which trumps the teacher's authority:relieved:) for her child to do only one, and not get in trouble for it.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Could you give an example of activities -aaa- and -bbb-?
     
  27. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I can't recall any specific names of groups, but I've been familiar with this common recommendation given to parents and to respond with a note that the assignment won't be completed and an alternate assignment will be done instead. I recall hearing this advice given on radio broadcast(s) that deal with parenting issues (but again I can't recall specifically where or when). However, I've seen what you mentioned concerning amount of homework in recent books--again, I'm stretching my memory, but I think (and if my memory falters, I apologize to the author) I read this in

    Abeles, Vicki; Grace Rubenstein. Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation. N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 2015;

    and I know I read it somewhere else--perhaps it was a magazine and not a book.
     
  28. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Yes, this is a bit confusing. I would call the parent and find out why. If not a phone call, then a simple, short, and friendly e-mail. I find reasons parents do things can be quite surprising and difficult to guess.
     
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  29. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Only your boss should be telling you how to do your job. I don't understand why people have issues with everything and believe they should have a hand in how you do your job (as long as you are following state/district procedures).
     
  30. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I don't disagree with this. Talking with the parent would clear things up. True, the parent might have thought it was insignificant, just a minor modification based on needs, but I think a heads up beyond a note would have been more appropriate. "Hey, teacher, knowing my child and his abilities, what would you think if we switched to bbb for homework?" And bbb might be just fine, even better, but to the student it looks good to have Mom not going behind the teacher's back.

    On the homework tangent...

    I have officially stopped giving out homework beyond a class letter that talks about what we're learning, maybe even gives examples, and even includes an optional reading tracking area for kids and families who actually enjoy tracking such things. I talk up home reading like I assume they're reading.

    Feels really good.
     
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  31. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Probably.
     
  32. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    I too have stopped giving homework, for the most part. I have given two pages of math this week. Extremely simple and I was shocked when everyone did it. I do send a newsletter that has what we are learning. I only really gave this homework because we didn't get our math books until last week and I wanted to make sure they got some extra practice before testing next week. I will not send out much more than that in the future. And you are right it does feel good to not have to stress about it.
     
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  33. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I'm all for high expectations, but kids also need time to rest and play and explore. Even my high school kids. I don't give much homework. When I taught elementary, I really didn't give much homework. I still have very high expectations for kids as far as behavior and academics go. I just also value their free time as much as I value mine. I don't want to grade their homework, and they need time to be with their families.
     
  34. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I have high expectations too for my students. I just don't see how homework make or breaks that. If it has no academic purpose and supporting evidence, I am not bothering with it in 2nd grade.

    I just had this conversation last afternoon with a neighbor. Her daughter has joined a very intense and rigorous school with lots of homework. She has never had homework before. Apparently beyond the one complaint typical of a 13-year-old girl while I was there, she has taken the homework shift in stride, simply part of being older and in middle school. She is plenty responsible and a lack of homework in the 2nd grade didn't ruin her. I daresay her story isn't unusual.
     
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