Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Inside Four Walls: 2009 - 2010 school year reflections part 1: parent interactions

Ok I have said it before on here last year was a pain when it came to parent interactions. Parents complained about everything I did. I couldn't do anything right last year. You can read about the joys of last year, HERE.

This year? Much better. I had only one formal complaint (I know that sounds bad, but gimmie a second). My TA's phone was taken from my desk while I was teaching (she was returning an assignment to another teacher). I called the counselors to check the students, but some had left to the bathroom or locker so it could have gone anywhere. The next day, I told the class that I would have to treat them differently and that I couldn't trust them because that could have been my phone or anything else of mine. I also let my TA talk to them and she basically said the same thing. She threw in that she wouldn't help them if they needed help (she would help them when they asked) because she was a teacher's assistant not a student assistant. I didn't have any problem with what she said. I felt the same way. Now remember this is like the first 2 months of school.

So I get a call the next day from the secretary saying a parent complained about me to the principal. Now I wanted to stay under the radar and this was not a good start. I called the mom, who wouldn't tell me her name, tell me who her child was (male or female), or the grade out of fear that I would retaliate against them...cause all teachers want to do is retaliate right? The phone call started spinning out of control quickly. She was upset that I allowed my TA to talk to my class like that. I said, "she wanted to talk to the class to to ask for her phone and she had a right to do so". The mom then said that my TA couldn't do her job without prejudice against the class because she said she couldn't trust them. I asked her what she wanted me to do and she said remove her from the class.

So I said, "well I feel the same way. Are you saying that I can't do my job effectively?" The mom says "Can you? Maybe you can't. Maybe you should be removed from the class." To which I said, "Why don't you move your son/daughter out". And the next sentence maybe me think it was going to be a bad year...she said "No I won't do that because I am standing up for all of the students in your class. The ones that are too scared to stand up to you, well I won't be intimidated!"

It got worse, with her accusing me of twisting her words around. Because at UPS, we were trained to repeat what was said and start it off with "So what you are saying is..." I think that pissed her off some more. Whatever.

She called the principal and I went in and talked to him and he said try to avoid "blanket" statements. That was it.

All the other parent interactions were pretty smooth. I have over 120 emails back and forth to parents some serious, but most just updates. I sent home grade checks after every test, so the parents would always know where their child's grade was. I had them signed and returned. And I simply told them if they forged their parent's signature that they would be in more trouble when they were caught.

I guess the funniest interaction came with a parent who was worried about their son's grade and his connection with math. I told her that he never asked questions and kind of looked complacent at times. Now this kid is a junior, going to be a senior. We are trying to prepare them for college and all of that good stuff. In fact, the mom said his junior year was to sharpen his study skills for college. So I am thinking we are on the same page when she said, "You know he was really successful in math in the 5th grade. His teacher related everything to basketball for him. Maybe all of your lessons could revolve around basketball so he could pass and be interested." I obviously said no because if I did it for one, I would be doing it for 179 others. I was just shocked that a high school junior's mom would bring up the 5th grade...I mean that was 6 years ago. Oh well...it could have been worse.

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