Monday, November 22, 2010

Lack of Preparation

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.

6 comments:

ktjane said...

I wish I had a good answer for this. It's been a while since this has been a problem in my room, but it remains one of the more awkward ones to deal with. Will be curious to hear what you did...

CrysHouse said...

Kate--

I told the student that I would no longer be accepting anything that wasn't typed in the classroom...and I would need to see ample evidence that s/he was on the right track. Since I give plenty of time in class to work, and stay in my classroom before and after school so students can have access to the computers, I didn't see this as being an issue. The parents, however, believed their child to be a slow typer and wanted him/her to have permission to bring the assignments home. Guesses as to why?

Brooke said...

I wish I knew that teachers actually thought about teaching this much when I had Mrs. Moser for Statistics. I never knew how much effort you guys put into it. The last thing I ever imagined you guys doing was blogging about your students, or the curriculum you were teaching, or situations you were faced with at school, such as upset parents saying that they felt you just didn't like their child. Thinking back on it now, no wonder Mrs. Moser hated me. I mean I know I'm about as smart as a kindergartener when it comes to stats but c'mon. I think we could've been friends if I wouldn't have gotten kicked out of class so many times.

CrysHouse said...

Brooke,

I think you would be shocked about a great number of things teachers do on your behalf. First of all, that we actually care about you and your grade. Secondly, when we blog or prepare, little of it actually has to do with the situation in the classroom. Instead, we are trying to figure out ways to do it better--to teach better, to discipline better, to develop better policy. I'm constantly concerned that what I'm doing isn't going to meet up with the expectations placed on you later in life--particularly for those students who don't go to college.

I don't want to be the teacher who comes in, reads from the book, hands you a worksheet and then collects it the next day. That's not teaching. Unfortunately, while I'm in the "figuring" process, some classes have had to endure that sort of classroom. But you'd be shocked at what you'd learn if you just asked a few questions of many of your teachers...of course, without sounding like a smart aleck ;) I've told so many students this very thing. Most of them came back to me and were shocked to learn that I was telling the truth.

The fact that I'm a teacher doesn't mean I've got it all figured out. Hopefully it means I'm willing to go back to the chalkboard every year to figure it out. We'll see, I guess.

Rebecca Louise. said...

That is a difficult situation but I would trust your instincts. It is case of trial and error but if you think what your doing is fair then by all means do it. As a teacher I am sure your're aware not everyone will like your methods :)

ktjane said...

Crys--

I assumed that was your solution, as it would have been mine. I wish we had the equipment so that all students could work at one time in my classroom! We only have eight working computers in the non-classroom lab right now.