Intro and a question (M)
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|Sat, 09-11-2004 - 5:36pm|
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!