My college education program taught me what it was to sit in the classroom. It gave me the opportunity to observe teachers in the classroom setting and even to teach for an entire semester. But my education program lacked in more than one way.
The one on my mind today? Dealing with parents.
I don't know how many of you educators have struggled to navigate the murky waters where diplomacy and realism collide, but I do know that it's a struggle that isn't going away. For the most part, I've been really fortunate. I've had parents who listen to me and know that I'm concerned for their student/student's grade. I make every effort to be available to answer questions and help whenever possible.
Unfortunately, that isn't always enough. I've had my share of "little darlings" who behave one way in front of parents and entirely different inside the classroom. Then, when the darling gets in trouble for his/her behavior, the parent requests a meeting with the principal and the teacher because "I feel you just don't like my child" (Yes, this actually happened to me). I tried to explain that when the student snaps at me and says, "It's your job to answer all my questions," I feel a respect boundary has been crossed. The parent felt that was up for interpretation.
In addition to behavior problems, I've faced students who simply do not want to do anything. Normally, I would assign a grade accordingly and feel that was the reward for a job not done. That, regrettably, doesn't work when the child continues to turn in work he/she did not complete on his/her own. Even more unfortunate? When the parent does the child's work for him/her. Personally, I would think that parents have better things to do with their time than to write papers for a high school English teacher. And, apparently, I would be wrong.
Now, I came up with a solution that will likely work in my classroom. Are the parents happy about it? Hardly...as evidenced by the calls to my principal all day long. Am I in the wrong? I don't think so. But I am curious to know: how would you handle a situation when you know (because the student told you) one parent wrote/writes papers for the student? I'm curious to see your answers.