Unintentional Confidential "Oops" :(

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by HOPE-fulTeacher, May 2, 2012.

  1. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    May 2, 2012

    I have a student who was a great behavior student until the past several weeks. I was talking with my mentor, and she suggested talking to the older sister about the mom & dad custody schedule (since they're divorced) to look for patterns and I *thought* she was also trying to tell me to ask about the new baby at one of the houses.

    Well, I talked to the sister, and originally I just asked about the schedule and how my student felt about switching so often (since the schedule was a really back-and-forth thing). The sister was telling me a lot and seemed comfortable telling me, so I asked how the student's relationship with the parent with the baby was (already having some info from the other parent that it wasn't the best), and how the student felt about the new baby. Then, since my mentor was working with me on this and curbing the behaviors I'm seeing, I sent her a brief email with what the older sibling told me.

    The day after this happened, my mentor spoke to me privately and said that I had gone too far with confidential things by talking to the sister, and that I should get the email off my computer. Apparently, I misinterpreted what my mentor suggested I do, and I feel terrible about it. I am trying to get to the bottom of why this student's behavior has suddenly changed, and I was honestly only trying to help my student in talking to the sibling. I had no idea that I was "going too far" or doing anything to break confidentiality, especially because I have already been talking to the student about things too.

    I am worried that since I'm a first year teacher that this could affect me having a job next year if the sister talks to the parents about it and they are really upset about it. Has anyone been through a similar issue? What could happen with this?? Soooo nervous....
     
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  3. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    May 2, 2012

    The parents could be upset. If they do call, apologize and then solicit their help in understanding your student. Or be pro-active, and call and ask for their help.

    For future reference, I would never consult a sibling of a student about behavior concerns. Always go to the parents about academic and behavioral conerns.
     
  4. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    May 2, 2012

    I think your mentor was wrong to suggest that you talk to the sister in the first place. The sister is in elementary school too, right?
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    May 2, 2012

    You didn't share anything confidential with the sister, she was sharing with you. Could your mentor have been referring to the fact that you sent the confidential information via email to her?
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 2, 2012

    This is what I was thinking. Or, could it have been possible that your mentor believes that you went beyond the scope of practice of your position? Could it have seemed like you were trying to counsel the sister in a way that would be more appropriately handled by a licensed counselor?
     
  7. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    May 2, 2012

    MissScrimmage, I will definitely keep that no sibling involvement rule in mind for the future! I have been in contact with the parents several times, though, so I know both parents are aware of the behaviors going on. I thought about calling the parents to tell them about my talk with the sister, but then I didn't know if drawing attention to my mistake would be making things worse?? If they contact me about it, I will definitely explain my reasoning that I was trying to make sense of the behaviors.

    orangetea, the sister is in middle school, but she comes to help the elementary kids in an after school program we have. (But I do see your point...she's still young.)

    mopar, I wondered if that's what she meant too, but I got the impression that my mentor thought it was the content of our conversation that wasn't ok. (She said I should've only talked to the sister about the custody schedule, not the other stuff.) I realize now that I misunderstood what her advice was, but I also wouldn't have asked any follow up questions had the sister not been so open and talkative with me. I was actually surprised with how much she shared.

    Caesar, it's something to think about, but I am positive that I didn't give any advice or anything resembling that to the sister. I was just a listener and actually didn't even share the fact that this student was having behavior problems (though I would think she's probably aware of them from hearing things at home.)

    It doesn't help that I'm not a parent...I don't have that parent perspective to know how they might react. Will they see it as I was trying to get to the bottom of the behaviors to help the student or will they see it as I was trying to pry into the dynamics of their lives?
     
  8. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    May 2, 2012

    I think your mentor was at fault. I would never suggest to someone to ask a sibling about any issue. Especially a custody issue.
     
  9. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    May 4, 2012

    I agree that it was the mentor at fault. You shouldn't discuss a child's behavior with anyone but the parents, that includes siblings and grandparents or other family members.
     

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