. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Let the Crazy-Making Begin

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let the Crazy-Making Begin

The fun is over now…

I had my first screamer of the year.

No, not screaming student. Screaming students; THAT I can handle.

This was a screaming parent.

On the playground.

At dismissal.

With all my kids gathered around me.

What did I do?

Let her scream at me.

What should I have done?

Sent her to the office to scream at the principal. He gets paid to be screamed at by parents who choose not to check their facts before screaming at teachers. Besides, my principal will simply tell a screamer to go home and come back once she's calmed down and then walk away from her. (Note to self…try THAT next time.)

What's another reason why I should have sent her to the office, and now I feel like a rotten teacher?

Because she turned and screamed at my kids who were standing with me (insert dagger into heart) because they were staring at her, mouths agape, as she screamed at me. Evidently, she thought they should not be staring at her as she railed their teacher about her "stupid, friggin' homework policy" and wagged her finger in their teacher's face while her son (this kid) stood there sobbing.

Yeah, she's right. Move along, kids. Nothin' to see here.

I feel like absolute crap that I didn't ask her to leave right then and there. NO ONE should be allowed to talk to any kids that way, especially when that person is





I should have stepped up, but instead I simply quietly asked my kids to take three giant steps behind me and wait for their parents there.

What was she screaming about?

Her son's conduct report that had the box checked next to Incomplete Work.

Why did I check that box?

He had incomplete work.

Why did SHE think I checked that box?

That morning her son came to me sobbing because he forgot his school planner in his desk so he couldn't write his homework down in it. The ONLY requirement I have with homework is that they write what they did at home for reading and math in their planner. They choose from a list of acceptable at-home activities that have them read for 30 minutes and practice math for 15 minutes. Then they write what they did in their planners. There is nothing to turn in.

Because the ONLY requirement is that homework be recorded in the planner each day, I am firm with that requirement. I give students one "freebie" per trimester to forget their homework, but after that I begin to lower their homework grade each time it is not completed correctly. There are no other consequences assigned.

I make every attempt to help students be successful with homework. It is specifically designed to be completely independent for every child, despite their ability level. As part of our end-of-the-day routine, I remind students to take out their planners and put them in their backpacks. I ask before we walk away from the room if everyone is sure they have their planners.

Because I do take those steps daily, if child forgets his planner I will not accept notes from parents confirming that their child did indeed complete their homework.

Even from screaming parents with sobbing little boys.

That's my stupid, friggin' homework policy, in a nutshell. (That lady needs to be in a nutshell.)

Was that the incomplete work that earned him a poor conduct report?

No. That conduct report resulted from the mountains of incomplete class work he has. The incomplete class work that I have been talking to her about on a regular basis. The incomplete class work that I've talked to her husband about. The incomplete class work that I agreed, at her request, to allow him to take home and finish each day. The incomplete work that he hides in his desk so as to avoid taking it home and finishing it.

THAT incomplete work.

What did she say BEFORE she learned the truth behind the conduct report?

"You're the worst teacher he's ever had!" (I can live with that. Someone has to be the worst.)

"I've never heard of such a stupid, friggin' homework policy." (Well, you heard of it when you came to Back to School Night…twice. Once in my room, and once in the other 4th grade room where your kid's twin brother is enrolled.)

"I'm going to the office to have him put in another class." (Newsflash… There IS no other class to put him in at our school. The only other 4th grade is full. She could transfer him to another school, if there's room, but I can pretty much guarantee, with our district's over-crowding issues, there won't be room for 2 kids so her twin boys will be in different schools and she freaked out when we put them in different classes this year. Besides, as you learned at Back to School Night, the other 4th grade has the EXACT same policy.)

"He had all A's at his old school!" (Checked his cumulative record. No A's. All C's, D's, and F's. All Needs Improvements in Responsibility for Learning sections. Teacher comments included things like "Student does not complete class work" and "Student often off-task.")

What did she say AFTER she learned the truth behind the conduct report?


What is her kid's reason for not completing his work?

He claims that he is not getting his work done because of all his tablemates talking to him and asking for help. (Which one? The one from Cambodia who doesn't speak English or the girl who is so shy she doesn't talk to anyone?)

Whatever. She believes him so I agreed to move his desk and give him a "privacy wall" to put up around him to prevent others from talking to him when he should be working. If the problem is others talking to him, we should see a great improvement in his completion rate next week when he not being bothered by those pesky non-English speaking mutes.

And when he doesn't get his work done, which he won't, and he gets another poor conduct report, which he will, what is she going to do?

Why, come and give me a great big hug and apologize for being so irrational.



The Bus Driver said...

Wow that parent seems psycho. A cross between helicopter overprotective parent, and parent who doesnt see that their child isnt the best thing since sliced bread.

As a bus driver, I can completely sympathise. I've had parents chew me out while I'm at their stop, dropping off their children. They will step on the bus and get all irate and angry with me for writing their children up for poor behavior on the bus, and the fact that the regular bus driver (i'm a sub) is always "picking" on their child is always a sore spot. All you can do is refer to the principal in that case.

Ms. P. said...

I completely understand. I've had several parents like that over the years. It's too bad that a parent can't realize that there is an appropriate place, time, and way to discuss such matters. I guess, though, that your students might have gone home and told their parents about what happened. If they did, maybe it was a lesson that the other parents will keep in mind if they ever need to speak to you about something.

Don't beat yourself up over not walking away or asking her to go to the office. Most of us are usually so stunned that another human being would speak to us in such a manner that we kind of freeze. Now that you've gotten through that one, if another comes along,which I can practically gaurantee, you'll be better prepared to handle it. Take it as a learning experience and as an example for your kids in how not to behave. :^)

Anonymous said...

Ahh, yes. The Psycho parents. Aren't they a treat? I didn't let mine get to the office if I could help it, because my principal is a nice person and I don't want a nice person to deal with it, usually. However, last week there was an incident and for the first time in 4 years, I saw her angry. I don't mean just mad, I mean ANGRY!!! I think she might be just the person to send a psycho parent to.
Mystery Teacher

Edna Lee said...

Ms. P,
You're very correct in saying that it's a learning experience. I've learned something from every interaction I've had with parents, especially ones like these. I seem to get one every year. Twelve years of teaching, twelve "challenging" parents.

It makes me kinda miss waitressing...

Melissa B. said...

I had a Screaming Parent bypass the main office one day and come down to my classroom to scream at me to my face--while I was teaching! I muttered something about him making an appointment with his child's counselor and then slammed the door in his face. Hmmmmmmmm...I probably didn't handle that one very well, did I? BTW, on a completely different subject, we're Sharing the Caption Love over at my place today. Yup, it's time for the Silly Sunday Sweepstakes--come play along!

askthehomediva said...

So sorry you had to deal with such an out of control parent. I find that the nicer one is to those screamers, the more irrational and rather stupid they look (which always makes me feel better).

Don't beat yourself up over what you should of/could have done. Consider the source. You have nothing to apologize for.