Zero parental support

Discussion in 'General Education' started by scholarteacher, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    I'll try to tiptoe around some of the issues involved here because some of them are very sensitive. I am in a low income school, which is where I have believed for years that I am needed. I'm starting to doubt this "calling". Many parents won't discipline their children in any way--no time out at home, no taking away of privileges, video games, or toys, no good old fashioned spankings (we'll just leave that right there). Many kids who have received notes home for disrupting the class tell me their parents don't do a thing; the parents just tell them, try to be good tomorrow. These same parents won't read to their children or have them do one page of homework.

    I am living on my income only (without benefit of a spouse with an income, no alimony, etc.), but I buy the kids clothes, school supplies, and pay for their field trips whenever I can, and I don't mind that at all. But moms come in with fancy new cell phones and new manicures and get onto me because I asked for some support with behavior at home, request field trip payment, ask them to read to their child, etc.

    Maybe I'm just missing the good old days of responsible citizenship, and yes, while I've been in situational poverty because of a divorce (and a crooked lawyer; thus, no alimony), I've never lived out of my car or gone for days without food. I know there's a lot about living in poverty that I don't understand. But the atrocious behavior of some of my students--plus the chewing out by the parents that, here in March, their child knows only 3 sight words out of 80 taught--is beating me down. I know teachers everywhere are being blamed for things out of our control. But having so many such parents is taking a toll on my mental, emotional, and physical health (migraines).

    Should I try to transfer to a school that is more balanced with responsible parents, or am I really making a difference here? Sorry to be so long! I guess I needed to vent! Thanks, everyone!
     
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  3. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Stop spending your own money ASAP!!!
     
  4. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Two things first: low income areas need good teachers, but you need to be in a good place yourself before helping others.

    To give some generalization, the attitudes and behaviors given by these parents are fairly common with poverty: homework takes a back burner, discipline is unstable, available money tends to be used on fun things to make these families feel better. I also think you're setting yourself into an expectation by giving so much. There's only so much control you have over what happens at home.

    There's no shame in changing schools, but if you desire to stay here, you'll need to accept you can only affect the classroom.

    Also, out of curiosity, why doesn't the school pay for field trips?
     
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  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    What you are experiencing is pretty typical for the type of school you are working it. Your reaction to those issues sends a red flag up that it may be time for you to switch schools. You could be experiencing burnout. Perfectly normal and perfectly acceptable. It just might be time to try something different to get you back to feeling more positive.

    Good luck with your decision!
     
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  6. renard

    renard Companion

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    1. You are burning out because you can't be a parent to 25-30 kids. Stop paying for things, especially clothes! The day a child "needs" tbeir T to buy them clothing is the day you call CPS.
    Hey, I grew up with irresponsible parents too. Never helped with homework, didn't care about school, always had money for booze though. Education is not important to many, a reality that one does need to recognize, regardless of opinion. Kids like this need coping skills and to be taught extra self-care/responsibility, not have their T burn out trying to fix a problem that runs deep in socioeconomic-historical contexts. Do your best within your responsibility.​
     
  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I want to also go a little further on paying for all these kids' things.

    To begin, I really don't mean to sound uncaring or jaded. I myself work at a high poverty school. I don't exactly have a big con against teachers buying things for their students, but it's not my personal philosophy, which I shall now share.

    The trouble with thinking you have a calling to this type of school can put you into some problems: you may think you're there to solve every little problem in their lives. You can't. You give your best and your all by teaching your best.

    Yes, it sucks to see kids in old clothes, but at least they're wearing clothes. Food? I can't help but think your kids have the option of free/reduced breakfast and lunch. I still am surprised your school makes kids pay for field trips as I thought most schools tended to budget for that sort of thing.

    I'm getting the impression you're trying to do everything their families and communities should be doing for them, and then getting upset because they're struggling with the schoolwork: your field.

    Again, I don't know your philosophy on buying stuff for kids, but I would recommend putting education first as far as your control is. Perhaps stop sending home homework (I don't care for it.) Work on getting to kids during the school day to help them study. By buying things left and right for your kids, you're taking away their responsibility. You bought my kid food and clothes yet you can't magically bring up their sight word fluency?

    In general, please focus first on your teaching and your classroom. This may help with the burnout feeling.
     
  8. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    Thanks for all the good words and advice. Our school is a uniform school, and kids get in trouble when they don't have on uniforms. All our teachers here help with that. Then, in academics in the classroom, we're expected to provide differentiated literacy and math activities that are not just worksheets. At the least, that requires buying cardstock, games, color printer ink, etc. I'm just stuck in rethinking my expectations--in the classroom and for myself!

    renard, I'm sorry you had such a rough background! Thanks for sharing!
     
  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    We're also a uniform school. We keep a running uniform bank. Does your school have that option?

    I'm surprised to hear the school or state doesn't give teacher money to pay for all those extras!
     
  10. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I agree.
     
  11. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I've been there. I'd only get parent conferences when a parent came to school to sign up for free Christmas presents and the office would call us down for a quick conference on the spot. Parents would tell us they didn't have money for pencils even though the parent reeked of cigarette smoke, had the newest model phone, nails done, carrying a nicer purse than any of us had, and hopped out of a new Caddie.

    It's frustrating.

    If you're buying things for the class to use in lessons, I can't throw stones there. I just spent 50 bucks this weekend for things we are doing this week. If it helps you do your job and you want to do that activity, then go for it. If you resent the money spent on the activity, you usually can come up with an alternative in my experience.

    But stop paying for things their parents should provide. Food and clothing are not your responsibility. I've bought many an outfit at Wal-Mart and many lunches myself so again I can't throw stones. It's tough to watch a kid go without, but it's causing resentment and that's not healthy.

    You might need a few years in a different setting. I'm in a different school now but there are still those who don't value education in almost any setting. There are probably some schools where every single child goes home to families who value the education their child is getting, but I've yet to teach at one. Since most of my kids have those values from home, I can find a way to focus on those who don't.
     
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  12. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Scholarteacher, I've been in one of the highest performing schools in my district and one of the loewest performing schools. Each has its own set of issues when it comes to supportive parents and motivated children. In my high performing school, one of the things I hated most was to sit in on a conference where I had all the documentation known to man that a child was failing to have the parent say, "you really aren't planning on failing my child are you?" I think the key thing here is growing thicker skin, setting limits, and saying no every once in a while. I've never paid for a fieldtrip. I've left children behind and some may consider that heartless, but it helped the child learn quick to speak up for themselves when it came to communicating with their parents. You have to find the best fit for you where you are having the greatest impact.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  13. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    Thanks, all. We're not allowed to leave a child behind for a field trip, and yes, I've been in the high-performing schools where parents hover and dare you to give their precious little genius a B (shocking!), even though the kid will never do their school work or homework. Are there not any normal schools with reasonable, normal parents? Oh, yeah, they never have teacher turnover, so you can never get a job there! I think my cynicism is showing!
     
  14. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I teach in a high poverty area. We aren't technically a uniform school, our parish just has a "strict dress code" which restricts what they wear to certain colors. (We all view it as a uniform.) we have several churches in the area that give away gently used uniforms. Can you reach out and see if there are resources like that in your area? I have purchased items for kids. Usually a pair of shoes or winter coat. I do it anonymously. I have paid a field trip or two as well. The few times have been kids in situations that they were being raised by grandparents or great grandparents who lived on social security. Field trip prices have gotten ridiculously expensive with what we have to pay for gas. We have enough kids that it takes two buses. That makes it twice as expensive. My heart breaks for my kids and I wish I could do more. But I'm 19 years in and have realized I can't do it all. I give them all the love I have at school. I make my room a safe place and make sure they know they are cared for. I go to baptisms, ball games, dance recitals, and other outside events. I do limit what I pay, though.
     
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  15. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    Our school tries to keep a few clothes on hand for bathroom accidents. They never get returned by the parents, so then we're out.
    Our state give money to teachers?! It's so bad here, my friends in other states can't believe I have the nerve to teach here. Our promises stuff but it never materializes.
    I just want to teach. I've already raised my kids. I don't have the energy anymore to raise all these kids, too!
     
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  16. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    We've had teachers at our school call CPS because they've witnessed parents slapping their children in the face repeatedly right here in the school. CPS says they're too busy to deal with that "minor" stuff; they have bigger fish to fry.
     
  17. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    I hear ya loud and clear scholarteacher. Teaching is a tough job and can drain you mentally, physically and financially. You are still in North Carolina aren't you? Share a little about your state and education so we can get an idea of how the situation is. I think a lot of us may already know. You aren't in this boat alone, though. There are lots of others out there in many places sharing the same experiences as you are. It is tough! You are a good person and in the end, you do what's right for the kids. The profession wasn't like this when we started teaching.
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    If your school is going to expect a highly impoverished area to come in with uniforms then they better be ready to provide those uniforms themselves. YOU should NOT be paying for their uniforms. That's all on your school and your district. You should also not be paying for their field trip. If your school doesn't allow kids to be left behind, then let the principal pay for them. That is NOT your responsibility. If admin doesn't want to pay, then they better find a place to put students who don't pay.

    Also when it comes to holding students accountable at home, whenever I conference with a parent, I fully assume that zero action will be taken at home by the parent. The conferencing is only to inform them of the misbehavior, and ask them if they think whatever prepared consequence I have is an appropriate consequence for their misbehavior (usually a lunch detention). This relieves most parents from having to think up a punishment on the spot, which they are always grateful for, and keeps kids accountable who aren't normally kept accountable by their parents. If a parent also wants to hold them accountable at home, then that's icing on the cake, but I'm not going to expect any of them to do that from the get go because it just doesn't happen normally.
     
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  19. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    First paragraph: I really hate this teacher martyr belief where teachers are expected to be saving the day regarding every little issue. No. Schools and communities indeed need to get their acts together.

    Second paragraph: Brilliant idea. I don't think I've ever bugged parents about providing a consequence. It happened in my classroom, that's it. I don't even have much parent contact over classroom misbehavior unless it's severe or persistent. Kids can sense when teachers and parents are fussing over their every little misdeed--sure takes a lot of pressure off of Little Junior having to actually behave.
     
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  20. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    Thanks for reading and responding. I was just talking to a coworker who was saying that our problem here is so many parents with a sense of entitlement, and we're enabling that. We send home 5 hot pink copies of the field trip permission slip, and even have someone here at school call the parent in their language (most of our parents refuse to learn any English), and we ask the parents to just sign the slip and the school (or somebody) will pay for it, and the morning of the field trip, we're required to delay leaving and scramble around to get mom to come to the school and sign a slip so we can leave. Where is good old fashioned responsibility?
     
  21. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Maybe the kid sitting in the principal's office while the class is on the trip (when no slip is signed) will get it through their heads. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.
     
  22. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Sadly, there's the rub. Why sign a permission slip when you're going to get 4 more copies and don't have to actually sign until the field trip?
     
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  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree with this. While it's too bad that a kid would miss out on a field trip over the actions (or lack thereof) of his parent, it may be the only option at this point. If parents want their kids to participate in these educational activities, they need to step up in the very slightest of ways and sign a permission slip. Really, that's not asking a whole lot.

    Unfortunately, I have heard of districts where there are policies in place stating that kids can't be left out of field trips unless the parent has specifically opted out (and not signing a permission slip is not the same as opting out), so the entire trip ends up getting canceled.
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree with this, too.
     
  25. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    I'm afraid you're really not making a difference with these kids or this community, at all.
    I agree with the posts that urge you to stop buying things for these kids. Both the kid and the parent really don't appreciate it.
    Education is really far down the list in neighborhoods you're describing....I've been in them, so I know.
    Flims like "Lean on Me," "Stand and Deliver," etc. are heart-warming movies, but they're just entertainment very loosely based upon fact. If you can improve your situation, I would strongly suggest you do it. You'll find a better place where you'll make more of an impact than you may think.
     
  26. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Parents that cannot find the time or energy to sign a permission slip are not going to download an app to keep up with school communication.
     
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  27. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Do you work for myly?
     
  28. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    We already use free apps to communicate with families but only one fourth of parents sign up.
     
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  29. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Yep. I use an app. Out of 32 students, and their 64 plus parents (including steps), I have four people signed up in that class. One of them is me.
     
  30. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Now, many of these communication apps are brilliant and useful in and of themselves, but they were never ever meant to make uninvolved families suddenly involved. Got a group of families who are great at keeping in touch and checking in? An app might be a great way to streamline things and modernize the already stellar communication, but it's not going to bring in a significantly higher population of users.
     
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  31. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    no
     
  32. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I work in a high poverty school. Our students are required to wear the school uniform & pay for any field trips. They just do it. Of course, at the beginning of the year, it's a little challenging for new parents. We do have parents who donate out grown uniforms so that helps. As for field trips, we keep costs down, no more then $10 a trip. If a parent honestly can't pay for a trip, the office helps out or we take it out of the bus fund. Our 5th grade teachers fund raise to take the kids to camp.
     
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