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    Another Idea
    By Curious

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    Hello-

    This parent needs some good training from teachers who care. If you don't address this issue with her, she will pull it with you and future teachers. She needs to hear it from you and her next years teacher, and the next year, and the principal until she understands what is appropriate parent (and student) behavior. She may not learn, but at least you tried.

    What I suggest is that you talk to her in a civil manner. Perhaps invite the principal as a third party so that she can't go "marching" to him after the conversation. Let her know that you need her support as a parent to help her child. It seems that one of her first interactions with you was unsupportive. In the future, if she has a question regarding the practices of your classroom, that she should come directly to you. Also let her know that you would appreciate her not discussing these topics with you in front of her child unless it is mutually agreed that the child joins the conversation. It undermines your authority as a teacher if a child hears her parent "discussing" your opposing opinions with the teacher. In addition, let her know that as a teacher you make many decisions on how your classroom is set up. And sometimes, your child may not like how things are different from years prior. It is helpful to you if she could be supportive of your decisions and realize that everything is not negotiable. You will listen to her concerns, but in the end the decision is yours. You expect that she respects your decision and realizes that it is based on careful thought and experience. Perhaps you will change your practice, maybe save it for next year because you don't want to try something midstream, or maybe you might not agree with her thinking. . . it is something that you as a teaching professional have the right to do.

    I know in teaching you need to pick your battles, you need to decide if this is a worthwhile one to pick. I think if her child can't share her supplies she has a big problem. It sounds like this kid is bellyaching too much at home, and rather than setting limits with her child she is giving in because it is easier for her at home. You can't do that in your class. You need to set standards and unless her child is on an IEP, you are not necessarily required to make exceptions for her child. Your decision was not harmful to the child.

    On another note, it probably wouldn't have been a big deal if the parent had come to you and said, Junior has some difficulty sharing her pencils. We encourage hand washing at home and she is very germ cautious and gets sick easily. It would be really helpful if we could donate a set of supplies for the classroom to use, but would prefer that she keep her personal items in her desk. Another reason is she is very careful when using her crayons. She is particular about whether they are broken and not pressing down too hard when she colors. When she shares supplies they aren't in the same condition as when she uses her own. I understand your rationale for why you share supplies, but would appreciate it if you could consider her individual idiosyncracies.

    I am more receptive to this type of feedback, and in this case, I might say ok. But the point is, this parent needs to be supportive of you and convey to her child at home that she needs to respect the decisions of her teacher and that not everything is negotiable.

    Also, express with her that you see that her child is oppositional, that she fails to comply with a simple request and is argumentative. Also let her know that her child is having trouble taking responsibility for her behavior. Often parents have trouble hearing that their little angel isn't perfect, but if they hear it again and again from teachers, they will realize that maybe their child isn't been completely honest. Let her know that this is a struggle that you have in a class of x amount of students and ask if she has seen this behavior at home. Ask her what strategies she uses to combat this inappropriate behavior. If she doesn't know what you are talking about and doesn't see it as a problem. . . document, document, document! Jot down all the times you see this problem. It is not appropriate behavior and perhaps her child has an emotional (ok that is a kind word for mental illness) problem. It is not typical behavior for kids to argue about everything under the sun. Also, hold her child accountable. Just because mom gave up at home, doesn't mean you have to.

    Good Luck! I know all the advice in the world will never solve your problems, but maybe one small suggestion may help you out. Keep a good attitude and know that you are supported by teachers if not by the parents. Sometimes it just helps to hear "no, you are not crazy, you are right!"



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