Intro and a question (M)

Avatar for sharlene1
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Intro and a question (M)
23
Sat, 09-11-2004 - 5:36pm
Hi, my name is Sharlene and I teach first grade in IL. I have a 4yo DS (Benjamin) and a 19mo DD (Julianna), oh and a new baby due in February. This is my tenth year teaching. I taught PreK for 3 years and ran a program for kids at risk. DH is a computer technician for another school district. My mom watches my children while I am at work and Ben goes to 1/2 day preschool at a local Catholic school. I used to hang out at the Parent's Place Teaching Parents Board (*Hi Lori!*) and lurk there occasionally. I stumbled on this board today and it looks a little more active than the PP board so I thought I'd post my question here:

A parent came to visit me yesterday (ok, visit is a nice word . . .) and was angry that I kept her daughter in from recess for not returning her homework on time. (I assign a short assignment each night to encourage responsibility-Monday is a math sheet, Tuesday is sight words or spelling words, Wednesday is read a book and write the title on a strip of paper I provide to make a paper chain in our class, Thursday is study sight/spelling words for the week, and Friday is empty papers from your take home folder and have a parent sign the journal. All directions are well covered in class. Assignements can be done independently and take about 10 minutes.) Well, on Wednesday I sent home a book strip and info for parents (basically the child should "read" a book to the best of their abilities if that be picture walk, retelling a story, picking out words they know, or actually reading.) We also practiced as a class what needed to be done. On Thursday the girl was absent (mom chose to keep her home and take her to Great America-an unexcused absence, no make up work allowed for the day) and when she returned on Friday I asked her for her book link. She gave me a note from mom saying she would have it on Monday. I told her it was due yesterday and she would have to miss a recess period. She replied rather snottily "My mom sent a note and she said if I can't go to recess I have to call her!" Well needless to say I did not let her call and she still had to miss recess. (The kids know this is the policy as do the parents.) The mom felt that she sent a note and that should exempt her daughter from her homework. (Yes, if it were an emergency or some serious situation.) She also stated it was her choice as a parent to take her to Great America and keep her home for the day. Technically the homework was due Thursday and I was being generous allowing her to return it the day after an unexcused absence. Mom's reasoning for her not doing it was mom didn't have time to help her with it ("Do you even realize she can not read a word! I have to help her with this and I just did not have time!" but she had time to take her to Great America for a day?) She did not agree with me that using prereading strategies to "read" a book is acceptable. She told me "I have higher standards than that!" and could not accept her daughter doing that to complete the assignment. (Yet with such high standards she has not taken the time to teach her almost 7yo to read.)

She went on to question why I do not use reading groups (the old style like robins, bluebirds and vultures as we commonly refer to them now) and prefer to use flexible guided reading groups (which is what we are required to do). She was surprised that the old style groups were no longer recommended and sounded wary of guided reading even though I explained the goal is for each child to get instruction on their level on a daily basis in addition to the class instruction. She complained that her daughter had no concept of addition (she passed her pretest) and we have only been doing it for 4 days, one of which she was absent.) I told the mom she missed a great opportunity to practice the day she was absent as all the kids had partners and used cubes to demo different problems, perhaps she can work with her at home since she chose to have her miss that experience. I even worked with each pair of kids until everyone could do it. She also complained that I used big words the kids don't understand (reminder) and her daughter had no idea what I meant. (I tell the kids "this is your second reminder that you need to work quietly. If I have to give you another reminder I will write a note in your journal.) I never even used the word with her daughter--she was complaining that her daughter heard me telling another student that. (I asked my 4yo what a "reminder" is and he told me "it's when you remind me I need to do something" so I don't think it's such a big word, but then again he can use "responsibility" correctly in a sentence and has been for quite a while now.) She complained that I have too many kids in the class with no help (take it up with the school board, I have no control). She requested that I give her daughter more individual attention (I try to give ALL the kids individual attention on a daily basis), she wants to come in every week to check her daughter's desk to make sure it is neat (she walked in my room and was checking her desk one day last week when I was doing bus duty even though she was told to sign in and wait for me), she wants me to call home before disciplining her child, I should be writing in her journal daily about her progress, and she ended it by saying "I just feel that the public schools are failing my daughter. I am certified to home teach and I will if I feel like the the schools are continuing to fail her!" Oh, how hard it was not to respond "that's fine with me--then I will have only 28 kids in my class and I will have more time for the others.

Am I wrong to feel like this parent is a little crazy? I've sent home a letter before school started with basic information: a letter each week with class info, news, reminders, etc. and always respond to parent phone calls and notes. The school has sent home a policy book with lots of info in it. I put in many hours before school started to get the class ready, arrive 1/2 hour before school starts and stay a little late each day. I work through 1/2 of my lunch and put in time at home in order to make the class what I think a class should be. Sure there are things that aren't done, but I do have 2 kids at home who need a mom too. What do you do with parents like this? Our principal is not very supportive of the staff (we should bend over backwards and do whatever the parent wants) so I don't even think asking for her help is an idea. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas!

Sharlene

Pages

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Sat, 09-11-2004 - 8:54pm
Hello Sharlene:

First of all, allow this woman to be a lesson in HOW NOT TO PARENT A CHILD. You have children, whenever you feel the urge to overindulge your children, allow this woman to be the example that stops you. Hey, I am not saying you are not a good mom, but I personally see parents and personally write down in my journal that I hope I will be a smarter parent than this person. The next time this woman complains, you get your adminstrator in there. Don't bend or change your rules because this woman wants you to "babysit" her child. UGH!! Yes, she is nuts and is exactly the parent we hate to have around. As much as I loooove parent involvement, this woman will make me change my mind. Anywhoo....

You are preaching to the choir about this issue. Take care of you and stand by your rules. You are a wonderful teacher AND AN OUTSTANDING MOM!!

GT33

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-08-2003
Sat, 09-11-2004 - 9:36pm
\


Edited 10/10/2004 9:32 pm ET ET by jacqueline2015
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-08-2003
Sat, 09-11-2004 - 9:39pm
[


Edited 10/10/2004 9:33 pm ET ET by jacqueline2015
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Sun, 09-12-2004 - 11:06am
YES, we can agree to disagree. I have had a parent like that person that the original poster spoke of AND SHE IS CORRECT. You take your child out of school whenever you feel like it and then get MAD at the teacher if she doesn't bend over backwards to accomodate a child. This woman may have reedeming qualities as a parent but she does OVER INDULGE her child and when you allow the child to run things, it creates problems....

Now, I know you are more experienced than me and you are a mom and I am not. But I have been in the original poster's shoes. I am there now. I have kids whose parents just don't bring them to school cause THEY DIDN'T WAKE UP. But wants me to give tons of make up work or accept late assignments 2 and 3 days later than they were due. Come on!! Yeah...

It's not the child's fault, but you can't make the parent's suffer the consequences. Plus, if this woman continues to confront the teacher about not making HER CHILD suffer consequences when rules are broken, every time that student breaks the rules, they WILL THROW IT IN THE TEACHER'S FACE. "MY MOTHER SAID I DON'T HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU." Like I said...

She should stand by her consequences and if mom continues to be "in her face" you are supposed to get your adminstrator in there. That's what they are there for. If the consequence is not "outrageous" I don't see why the adminstrator won't stand by the original poster. Now for me....

I just wouldn't have accepted the assignment. You can't have it both ways. Either you miss recess and I accept late work or go to recess and I don't accept it. But you can't have both. Also...

The OP said this child can hardly function in the classroom as far as her work is concerned. I have the same problem. Parent wants to complain that, "My child doesn't read well." So I ask, Do you read to them at home, "No" Do you have any books at home for children, "NO" Do you take them to the library to check out books, "No" These type of parents do nothing with their child at home and then look at you like you should be the miracle worker....

Children care about what their parents care about. If reading isn't important at home, it won't be that important in school. I respect your post and I understand what you mean. It is hard for me to keep kids inside for recess as well. Those are things that I hate to take away from a child, but if that is the rule for missed work, then she will serve the consequence no matter what the excuse. As far as....

The parent coming in to clean the child's desk, if it's after school, I don't mind. But a parent had better not walk up in my class during a lesson and clean out a child's desk, I don't care if she is a taxpayer. I am one too and you have no more rights than I do. Oh and just because she is a taxpayer does she have the right to interrupt the learning process of the other children in class. Like I said, after school, no problem, but anytime before that and I would ask her to come back later.

Let me say one more time that I am certain that you are a great mom and a great teacher Jackie. I don't totally disagree with your point, but until you have had ONE TOO MANY parents like the one mentioned, you don't really understand. There is a point when you must be flexible as a teacher, but there is also a point that you have to be firm. If a student misses an assignment, I don't count it for them or against them and I only calculate the amount of work they have done. So if I have given 10 assignments but they have only done 5, then that's what I count. That's as much leave-way as I can give. Also..

If this parent is so BITTER about the public school system, she should take her child out instead of making the teacher's life hell over certain things that the teacher has no control over. Good luck to you and GOD BLESS. I am sure you will be an awesome teacher and I would love some advice from you about improving student reading comprehension.

GT33

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Sun, 09-12-2004 - 12:56pm

Welcome, Sharlene! I completely understand your feelings and opinions. After reading your post and the replies, I also understand what GT is saying. If a parent has higher priorities than school and education, the child must be handled carefully. When a parent doesn't send a child to school, won't help them at home, expects to have have no responsibility, and then blames the teacher for the child's problems, the parent is setting the child up for major problems in the future.

Sherry

 

Avatar for sharlene1
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 09-12-2004 - 2:44pm
Thanks! Yes, I am careful not to overindulge my child. I am the adult in charge and it's my job to teach them and form them into a productive member of society. Even my 4yo knows he goes to school everyday and does his homework. He is only 4, but he knows the importance of rules and listening to authority.

As far as parent involvement, I have had some wonderful parents (and grandparents) helping in my class. It is a really great thing when it works well, but it does take some work to get it working smoothly. I know not every parent is suited to help in class and not every teacher is suited to have parent helpers. It took a while before I figured it out!

Sharlene

Avatar for sharlene1
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 09-12-2004 - 3:37pm
" unless it is the last resort and you've talked to the parents, you never keep a child that young in from recess. At this young age, mom is the one who decides if the homework gets done and the child should not be punished...an older child you can kind of do that to...because they can reason with parents and do have more of a choice in the matter"

Sorry, but I disagree. I have taught 1st grade for many years and I know the assignments I send home can be done by a child without help. 99% of the time 100% of my class returns homework. First graders are a lot more capable than many people give them credit for. It's awful that so many people see them as such little kids. I have high expectations and the kids can and do rise to them! At this age, when they are still excited about homework, it's a great time to develop lifelong habits. My assignments take less than 10 minutes and the purpose is for the child to check the backpack, do the work, and return it on a daily basis. These are skills my 4yo is learning now that he attends school daily. Parent have thanked me for the consistent routine because they are more successful in the upper grades. If you need to sit with your child to make sure homework gets done every night you have not taught him/her to be independent. The children miss 15 minutes of recess at the end of the day, it's not like they miss recess during the whole day. (they play before school and have 20 minutes at lunch time.) The parents have recieved a copy of the homework policy. The only question I have ever received about it is "why every day?" and parents are satisfied when I explain the work is quick, simple, and designed to teach the routine.

"I am wondering whether you had a curriculum night or open house to go over the classroom rules and how curriculum is carried out? I am thinking you probably didn't show your frustration to the mom face to face..but most parents do want to know why their child is being taught a specific way and why the 'old' way is no longer THE way to go. Curriculum night is perfect for letting the parents know how you teach and why..in a positive, pleasant atmosphere..not waiting until there are problems"

Our curriculum night is planned for Wednesday. Before school starts I send home copies of the discipline policy, homework policy, and a letter introducing myself and what we will do during the year. It includes routines to help the kids feel at ease. I also arrange to meet the children and parents before school starts. (out of 29, only 7 cared to show up) I have given out my e-mail, phone number, and best times to reach me in person based on the class schedule. I encouraged parents to call or send a note if they had a concern. The only call I got was from a parent telling me they had moved and the child would not be in my class. I will be available to answer questions at curriculum night and will go over our routines in more detail.

"NCLB"

(That says a lot, LOL) Yes, we have made many changes. No more robins, bluebirds and vultures. Our district has moved to more effective methods and teachers have recieved additional training. There doesn't seem to be such resistance here. I explained guided reading to the mom and explained how it uses groups, but it allows for each child to get reading instruction on their level every day and she still seemed to question it, though not directly. I wish NCLB allowed me to have less than 29 students, more books in the class, and required parents to read to their kids daily.

"As far as coming into your room and cleaning her desk...well, she is a tax payer and basically, you are working for her. If she was doing this in the middle of you trying to teach, it would be different."

The problem is she was asked to sign in in the office, get a visitor's pass, and wait till I was finished with bus duty. She chose skip signing in and getting a visitor's pass, walk past several teachers who asked her to return to the office, and go into my room when I was not there. She also took her 4 children in my room, allowed them to play with my books and manipulatives, creating a mess I had to clean up. She stated to me she can come in anytime and check her daughter's desk. She doesn't need me around to go through it. She was looking for reading, math, and science books and was angry her daughter didn't have them. (Science is hands-on and has worksheets we keep in a folder, our first reading unit uses individual decodable books in the beginning and each child has a ziploc bag for their mini books, and math has 6 individual workbooks so it looked like we only had a 30 page math book. She disrespected the staff, the rules, and my classroom. Sure she is a taxpayer, but I am too and I would never barge in on a teacher, policeman, or other person whose salary I "pay." I am thankful they do the jobs they do and would never throw that in their face. It is just plain rude! Treating someone with respect goes a long way. You have to give respect to get respect. I'd be happy to sit with her and go through the desk and explain what she has and what she will get later. It would have been better than her getting angry about what her daughter did not have. While a parent has a right to come in, they should be aware that they are 1 of 29 and be respectful of the teacher's time. If they call ahead they are assured to have my undivided attention, not catch me as I am running to a staff meeting or trying to prepare materials for the next day.

" I know you work hard and have little ones at home and are pregnant and probably exhausted. Be assured that your hours are probably less than a lot of teachers put in. I am not even cert, and I come in an hour before I am paid, just to get things done and feel caught up all day. I sometimes stay up to 1/2 hr or hr after school, but I really try not to do this. I know teachers are paid before and after..and rarely take their full lunch, so it's part of the job, really."

Thanks for reminding me that I don't work as much as others. I never thought I'd have to justify to another educator the concerns of how much additional time is needed to make a classroom work successfully. Yes, I know it's part of the job. Until I had kids I spent every night until 7 pm or later at school. I would arrive while it was dark and stay till it was dark. I worked in my room on the weekends and took work home. Sure there are educators who work more than me, I just hope THEY are not neglecting their own kids. I do have to set some boundaries in order to spend time with my own children. I am blessed that my mom is their caregiver while I am at work. They love their time with "Maia" and she loves to be able to be with them on a daily basis. I am also lucky to be an organized person who can plan well in advance. I do a great deal of planning ahead and during the summer, so while I may not put in as many hours now, please be assured I am dedicated and have put in more than enough additional hours of my own time in order to have a very successful class. As for being exhausted from being pregnant, maybe you had that terrible side effect, but not me! I actually enjoy being pregnant and am more energetic. I am also lucky to have a supportive husband (who works in a school also doing computer repair) and knows the demands of my job. The time I spoke of before and after school was in addition to my paid time. I don't consider that extra as I am paid, but arriving 30 minutes BEFORE my starting contracted time, staying 15-30 minutes AFTER my contracted time, taking home an hour or 2 of work nightly, and working through half my lunch every day is a considerable amount on top of the work done on weekends and in the summer. Add on top of that all the supplies I purchase to make the class successful and I DONATE a considerable amount to the job. I love what I do and don't believe in doing a job half way. It sure is frustrating for you to tell me "it's part of the job" because it is not. Teaching is my passion and I do it well, even if I have to put in extra time and money, but it's just that: EXTRA TIME AND MONEY! Sure lots of teachers, even most do it, but not all because it's not part of the job. Please don't discount the educators who truly give their all! We need to build each other up, not tear each other down!

I'm surprised you have such an important position teaching reading. We are only allowed to have highly qualified (certified) teachers in that position. Are you working on your certification? Were you certified in another area?

Sharlene

Avatar for sharlene1
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 09-12-2004 - 3:48pm
Thanks Sherry!

Your ideas sound great and I agree with what you said. I have been successful getting children to follow rules when parents are not supportive and it's always nice to see those children doing well a few years down the road.

I can't believe you had a parent going through your files! That really is amazing. What grade did you teach? You are teaching college now, right? Sounds like you have some great experience to share with new educators.

Sharlene

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2004
Sun, 09-12-2004 - 4:49pm
I think there is something wrong with this parent. It sounds like she got mad about the child missing recess and came in to complain. In my opinion, I think you did the right thing. How do we ever teach children to be responsible without consequences? Besides, her child had an entire day of recess the day she was out. Anyway, she realized that recess alone is not a "good" complaint, so I think she just brought up those other things (reading/math) to "strengthen" her position. I have had parents do that to me before. They get mad about one thing and feel the need to come in and say all sorts of negative things to make the teacher look (and/or feel) bad. Of course, that doesn't help you. I agree with the person who said to send home extra work and notes. Also, the most important thing is (and I know this is more work) to document. If you send home a journal, so you do it there or in a notebook of your own (probably better). Write down when you send home extra work and copies of notes you send. Keep track of individual time you give the child. Once a parent (in my experience) gets that upset with the teacher, they will take every opportunity to cause problems. I am not saying all parents, but the ones that I have known who are like this parent. Keeping track of those things is more work, but should only take a few minutes a day. Having those notes will help if she reports you to administration. It's really sad that we have to deal with things like this. Last year, we had a parent like that and it got to the point where I wished she would home school.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-08-2003
Sun, 09-12-2004 - 6:20pm
Hmm, I see now that you did not post your original post to ask a question and get suggestions...simply to vent and have all the other teachers pat you on the back and say, "You are great!! BAD parent!" This board has been pretty unsupportive to me in general, but this takes the cake. You are getting wayyy too defensive here, Sharlene. Did I say this woman or any parent had the right to not sign in or barge in in the middle of your teaching a lesson?? No, I don't think I did. I also NEVER meant to imply that you didn't put in enough hours or didn't work hard enough. My goodness, it IS part of the job, isn't it? I wasn't being sarcastic in the least. I have had many, many jobs (not just in education) where I put in more time than I was paid. Why do teachers assume they are the only ones working 'off the clock' at times? Where did I say (the other poster implied this too about me) that you should not have rules or high expectations??? My goodness. I also expect a great deal of my students...I work with 1st graders too and know that DEVELOPMENTALLY they need a great deal of exercise and movement. None of the wonderful primary teachers I know keep their kids in for the type of thing you have described. Also, I asssumed this was the first time this mom had confronted you. I stand by my original post..I am seriously confused sometimes as to why people become teachers.

I am not going to touch on every point that you slammed me on. It's a beautiful day and I am going to enjoy it..but suffice it to say, the end of your snotty post tells a lot about you. If you read my original post to you, you'd see what my plans are for certification. YOU don't know me from Adam and have NO idea how 'HIGHLY CAPABLE' I am. Good for your school for only hiring 'qualified' reading teachers! I have been doing this for over 8 years and have been trained, gone to many classes and have a great mentor and teachers and a principal in my building who trust me and think I am doing a great job.

Pages