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Home : 2003 : Oct : 4

    I'm flabbergasted, too.
    By Carolyn

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    I understand completely what you mean. This is happening to all of us. One thing I have found is that a phone call is more effective than a note home. I used to send notes home, but then without your presence to explain the note, the child can fabricate all sorts of stories to defend himself/herself. The parent may then choose to excuse the child, saying that maybe the adult teacher just doesn't know what she is talking about. (Duh, a child knows more than the adult!)

    I usually start out with a warning. If the child continues the behavior, I take away recess. The third time results in a phone call home. I make sure I follow up, even if I have to stay late for a staff meeting. I call and speak pleasantly for a minute about the child, then I move to the problem. I explain the situation thoroughly while the parent listens. Sometimes the parent will ask that the child come to the phone while I am speaking to him/her so that we can have a three-way conversation. By the end of the conversation, we have worked out a satisfactory solution.

    One thing I think is important to emphasize to parents is that there is no BLAME. If you approach the situation as if you are making the child appear wrong, they might get touchy. Instead, I approach the parent as a fellow adult who can also speak with the child about what was done inappropriately, what the child should have done instead, and what could be done differently the next time.

    Keep in mind that no matter what, you are going to have those belligerent parents who feel the need to cuss out everybody, including your principal. One day last year I was called into the principal's office while the principal was meeting with a parent. The parent got very ugly with the principal, even shouted at him and insulted him. He told her that she would have to speak appropriately, or he would have to dismiss her.

    I have also had those parents who threaten to move their child out of our school and send him/her somewhere else. Ha! I've heard that enough to want to roll my eyes whenever I hear that. I have a tough discipline problem this year. I have called her father, but his response was that he was thinking of moving her to the school down the street. It's October. She's still in my room. That's all talk, and I think that the parent is using this "tactic" as a way to bow out of the situation.

    I agree with the part about kids respecting adults. I teach fifth graders whose parents have obviously not instilled good manners within their children. Some of them talk back when I make a simple request. My principal last year used to suspend children for two days, automatically, when children showed disrespect to adults in our school. I would like to see the same from our new principal. (She's mostly gung-ho about curriculum and seems to avoid the discipline issues.) Without proper help from administrators

    I don't really think that school is like boot-camp. I believe that children should just do what is routinely expected of them without question and arguments. Parents have become too lenient with their children at home, so when they come to school it probably seems like boot-camp. I often think that there is a different standard at home and at school for children's behavior. (Witness the remarks of parents like: He doesn't act like this at home!)

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